Go! Go! Curry = So So Curry
This a new Japanese curry shop on 38th Street, just east of 8th Avenue. Apparently it is a Japanese chain and this is its first North American inroad. Loving Japanese curry as I do, I've been there twice already and found it to have some very basic problems:
1. On both occasions the curry sauce was partly congealed and only very warm. Given that curry is the ONLY thing they serve, they should serve it bubbly-hot.
2. They have several sizes to choose from, S, M, L, XL. But no matter what size you choose, you get precisely the same ladle-sized amount of curry. All that changes is the amount of rice that you get. So if you order an XL, you're left with a lot of dry white rice. That is plain stupid.
3. They serve the curry with a fork, not with the traditional spoon. That is annoying.
4. They have a tv playing an endless self-promo loop. That makes for a rather grim atmosphere.
As for the flavor itself, the curry is rich, dark, and inticing, with bits of onion, but, alas, no potatoes or carrots or other stuff. The toppings, like katsu, chicken or fried shrimp, are all pretty good and freshly cooked.
Overall, its a nice place to have in an otherwise terrible food nabe. But it is inexcusable for them not to totally nail the basics. Maybe they'll improve.
I also tried Go!Go! Curry this weekend. It is pretty good, and better than the instant roux-based curries you find at most Japanese restaurants in NYC. At least for this month, they are serving the small, medium and large sizes for $5 as an opening special, so the skimpiness didn't bother me all that much. I was also pleasantly surprised by the good quality of the tonkatsu as well. The curry itself was the thick smooth variety with all the vegetables and meat disintegrated into the stew, which is why it is a good match with the katsu. I think that's why they offer the fork instead of the traditional spoon, but it seems like they engineered the fork to be more like a spork (but more fork-like than spoon-like, like the ones from the school cafeterias) so you can really tear into the all-important katsu. And you're right about that promo-loop. I found it interesting as I was watching it, but it must be tiring if you go there more than once. I'm not sure if you noticed all the baseball theme, but the story is that the owner opened an operation in NYC because he's such a fan of Hideki Matsui, so there's a lot of references to the number 55. I think there's some kind of special on days (or day after) Matsui hits a homerun. I'm not sure what you consider the basics, but Go!Go! seems to be a successful enough chain in Japan, so I doubt very much that they'll change anything with the food. In Japan, they are a curry shop offering something different from all the other curry shops, so as far as they're concerned, they've nailed it with their style of curry. Some of the Japanese press indicate there are long lines, but I didn't find that the case at an off-hour on Sunday, but it did fill up quickly. All in all, it's a good addition to the NYC scene, and I hope it inspires other curry shops to open, if only just to offer something different.
re: E Eto
The rice is Japanese-style, probably produced in California, rather than the much more expensive Japanese-grown rice (if that is available at all by import). The lines were non-existent when I was there, albeit at off-hours. I think their buzz-machine is working hot and heavy to give the impression of a frenzied Japanese curry invasion. My guess is that the Japanese press picked up the story of long lines out the door from the Go!Go! Curry website itself, which indeed shows a photo of such a line.
If they need to skimp on the curry sauce because of the $5 promotional deal, then they may be turning off more customers than they woo.
Curiously, as with Yoshinoya on 42nd Street, most of the clientele appear to be either Japanese or local laborers. And one touch I like is that, although it is "fast food", it is served on aluminum curry platters with the aforementioned metal fork-spork combo (possibly a sfork?). Still - if they deserve to succeed they have to serve curry HOT.
re: Skillet Licker
If you go on a weekday at lunchtime, there will be a line down the block, but that is partly because they aren't doing takeout until June 1st and so will only serve people if they can seat them. The layout is terrible -- I think they could do something better with the seating. I noticed that most of the lunchtime clientele are fashion workers from the neighborhood, and Japanese, of course.
I found the curry to be tasty enough, and the katsu, as Eric pointed out, is of good quality. It's very close to my work, but after three visits I'm bored of the taste and doubt I'll return until they start offering some of the side dishes and pickles and whatnot.