Doria the Explorer

Japan's answer to tuna noodle casserole

Some of the best dishes blur the lines between East and West: banh mi sandwiches, for example, or a certain L.A. chef's Korean take on a taco.

At Muracci's Japanese Curry & Grill in Los Altos, the sit-down sister to the downtown San Francisco shoebox of the same name, the plate-size tonkatsu with curry sauce is a worthy draw. But the doria–a rice dish that hints at the best American casseroles of yore–steals the show.

An oversize clay bowl holds enough for a family of four: rice topped with creamy curry bechamel, shredded chicken and broccoli, all blanketed under a layer of bubbling, browned cheese ($13). A seafood version ($15) and a vegetarian combination with spinach and eggplant ($13) are also available. It's Japan's version of a gratin, and it is outrageously good.

The dish is also proof that the Japanese, oft lauded for their healthful diets and less-is-more approach to food, aren't above the occasional rib-sticking, humble, one-pot affair–with cheese on top.

Muracci's Japanese Curry & Grill, 244 State St., Los Altos; 650-917-1101 or muraccis.com