Kare-Ken Japanese Curry House | San Francisco, CA

A new Japanese curry joint in the Tenderloin

The thick brown curry sauce at Kare-Ken Japanese Curry House contains neither MSG nor coconut milk.

Rather, it's a sweet-savory, roux-thickened matrix, seasoned with curry powder, carrots and apples, along with myriad spices.

At this newcomer, located on a dodgy block of Jones Street in the Tenderloin, five varieties of curry are available. Try the classic pork katsu ($8.50) first. The golden, fried cutlet is placed on a heap of rice with sauce alongside, so you can drown or dip.

Dry beef curry is bolstered by ground beef, cubed carrots and peas ($8). Like all curries, it can be ordered mild or spicy, and comes accompanied by pickled cabbage, sliced hard-cooked egg and tempura onion rings; you can also add a side order of rings to any curry ($2).

For patrons who don't score one of eight stools inside, a takeout window opens to the street. You can place your order and wait, hassled by junkies, until the gatekeeper passes it through the curry portal.

Given Kare-Ken's proximity to Bourbon & Branch, we predict lots of late-night customers. The Kare-Ken owners do, too: Starting next week, after 10 p.m., you can order a hot dog topped with curry sauce ($6), or a fried-pork-and-curry sandwich ($6).

Kare-Ken Japanese Curry House, 552 Jones St., 415-292-5273 or kare-ken.com