Curry Zen

Japanese | Vegetarian
excellent
Worth a detour
Save

Las Vegas’ Chinatown is one of the tastiest neighborhoods in America, offering more than Chinese food. It is a concentration of strip malls packed with all kinds of Asian fare: Thai, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and good Japanese katsu curry.

Curry Zen’s curry is the color and texture of mashed-potatoes gravy; but its flavor delivers the simmered-all-day complexity of Nona’s Sunday gravy. The sauce is vegetarian, which is unusual for Japanese curry; but what’s most notable is the daredevil spice level. Customers are invited to choose between 1 and 10. 3-level has us sweating; 8 makes us cough violently if we swallow carelessly. Those not enamored of very spicy food should start at 1.

It’s curious heat, more like Indian spicy than Thai spicy. You feel it in your stomach more than in your mouth, but it’s no less intense. While it’s easy to sweat in Las Vegas — just walk a couple of blocks outside any afternoon — curry sweat has a purifying character (which is, in fact, a much rarer experience in Sin City). Curry Zen’s blend of fifteen spices is no secret. It’s a checklist of essentials from the Indian pantry, from turmeric to cloves. 

Japanese curry is always served with rice, and usually with panko-crusted fried meat. Chicken katsu is everything you’d hope from a cutlet: juicy meat and crisp shell. 

Vegetarian options often are a novelty at curry shops, but they are featured at Curry Zen. Vegetable curry is tasty enough, but we especially like spinach curry. It has a texture like cheese dip, reminiscent of Punjabi Saag. Get it topped with cheddar cheese and it is resembles a creamy Indian curry.

One order of curry is plenty of food, but the menu also offers tempting fried snacks. Tiny, crispy, meaty gyoza are much better than you’d expect — evidence that the perfectionist attitude of Curry Zen isn’t limited to its signature dish.

What to Eat
Curry Zen, Chicken Katsu Curry
Chicken Katsu Curry
Must-Try
A fresh take on the classic Japanese curry: Katsu.
Curry Zen, Spinach Curry with Cheese
Spinach Curry with Cheese
Must-Try
We’d never had Japanese curry this way, but it’s a great idea.
Curry Zen, Vegetable Curry
Vegetable Curry
No one would mistake this for Indian food, this is extra-spicy Japanese comfort vegetarian.
Curry Zen, Gyoza
Gyoza
These were tasty little warm ups the gut pounding curry yet to come.
Information
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner, Late Night
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
Yes
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

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