Once the preserve of friends lucky enough to have holidayed in Japan, the Katsu curry has swiftly established itself on the national pallet (even if your elderly dad insists that it tastes exactly the same as the curry from his local fly-blown Cantonese takeaway).
While authentic city center restaurants have been serving Katsu curry for years, it’s against the backdrop the many supermarket meal-deal equivalents that this deserves to be judged.
Nudo Sushi Box, who have three places in Manchester along with a stronghold in the North East, serve their Katsu Curry under the snappy title Chicken Japanese Curry with Rice, and as luchtime fast food goes, it feels like a genuine treat.
Served in a large, round pot, it’s a bowl of sticky white rice, chunky pieces of bell pepper, edamame beans, baby corn, what I assume is cucumber and what appears to be panko covered chicken breast slices. Ordered in store, this is heated in the microwave, then the rich, dark Katsu sauce is ladled over the top for customers to either eat in or take away.
The finished product is a large, filling meal filled with enough crunchy vegetables to mitigate at least some of the guilt created by the many hundreds of calories that you consume when you eat it. The sauce isn’t particularly spicy, but it has a rich, enjoyable flavor albeit one that dominates the entire meal.
The chicken is good, given the limitations of the meal (it’s pre-cooked breaded chicken cut into strips) and Katsu regulars can often be spotted trying to sort through the pots in an attempt to find one with marginally more chicken in it. Do I do this? Yes. Have I ever succeeded? No.
And so to that backdrop of supermarket equivalents. The Chicken Katsu from Nudo is vastly superior in flavour, freshness, and overall satisfaction. However, the one I ordered, with a carrier bag to take out, cost £8.00, which is a lot more than the meal-deal equivalents, so rather elevates it to a different bracket.
Existing in a middle ground, above the convenience stores, but below a restaurant feels just about right for a meal like this. It’s good, not great. Satisfying, if indulgent. Is that enough to justify that price tag? Maybe that all depends on whether you can find the one with the extra piece of chicken.
Meal: Chicken Japanese Curry with Rice
From: Nudo Suchi Box, Hardman Street, Spinningfields, Manchester.
Overall score: 6/10