Kare-Ken: The best damn Japanese curry in the city

  Posted by - November 21, 2014 - $ (0-20), Restaurants, San Francisco

When it comes to Japanese curry, I’m a total sucker.

The combination of flavors is just the perfect party-in-your-mouth.

I mean… delicious pork cutlets, cooked to perfection, drenched in a spicy curry sauce… heaven. 

Oh.. it’s also only $8.50!!!  (<– Is this real life in SF??)

And lemme tell yah, Kare-Ken seriously has the best Japanese curry in the entire city.

They serve a simple menu that features six curry dishes, all priced around $8.50. Your choice of chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, vegetable, or just plain curry gravy over rice.

All dishes are served with pickled cabbage, vegetables, and rice.  They also have a short list of toppings and sides such as boiled egg, corn, seasonal veggies, and tempura onion rings. 

Whether you’re grabbing something to-go or dining at one of the 8 bar seats, everything at Kare-Ken is served in environmentally friendly to-go boxes. 

Kare Ken- Japanese Curry in San Francisco

They have a tiny, unassuming space where you can watch them cook & prepare your meal right in front of you. While they ARE located in the TenderNob area, Kare-ken …isn’t exactly a hole-in-the-wall.

It’s much more hip & classier than that. 

And while it’s not exactly in the safest of neighborhoods, you’ll often see a line of people waiting for their to-go orders. Because if you’re hungry, tired, and just getting off work… this is the perfect place to pop in for a quick bite. 

Kare Ken- Japanese Curry in San Francisco

The katsu curry (pork) is my all time favorite ($8.50)– Would you just LOOK at how much they give you?? It’s impressive, isn’t it?

The katsu is flawlessly cooked- it was golden, crispy, and not greasy at all. The breaded pork cutlet was perfectly fried and the pork was tender & moist inside.

They serve the curry in a container on the side so that you can pour and use as much as you want. Their “spiciness scale” is on point. The mild was super mild, the medium was just right for me, and the extra spicy… is well, … going to hit you in the face. 

Side: I’m a huge fan of the curry-on-the-side, because then- my food won’t get soggy while I take my #foodpics lol

Kare Ken- Japanese Curry in San Francisco

My other FAV is the shrimp katsu curry ($9.50)– Again, would you just look at the size of those things?

The outside was perfectly fried, while the shrimp remained moist on the inside. The veggies were delicious– cooked to a golden brown. The pickled cabbage was on point and refreshing to the palate. It’s truly the perfect pairing to any curry dish.

Kare Ken- Japanese Curry in San Francisco

We also had a side order of their seasonal vegetables ($3). The cauliflower is seasoned in a sweet vinegary sauce, the edges were slightly crisp and the center was super soft like a baked potato. 


I know they look simple, but it’s so damn good and perfect in every way. 

Kare Ken- Japanese Curry in San Francisco

And lastly, these onion rings ($2.50) are outa this world. It’s ultra crispy and super delicious dipped in curry sauce. 

To sum it all up: It’s fast, delicious, and welp, it also happens to be super affordable! 

PS: you can totally call ahead to place your order, pop in to pick it up, and enjoy in 10 minutes. 


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  • Jack Ha January 15, 2015 - 6:16 am Reply

    What a great find! I’ve been coming here at least twice a week since it’s so close to my work. Met the owner too, pretty chill and funny guy.

  • Richard November 25, 2014 - 8:11 pm Reply

    I just tried their katsu curry after reading your review. Both my GF and I really loved the taste and texture of the pork. Thanks for introducing us to this place!

    • CynEats November 25, 2014 - 8:14 pm Reply

      You’re welcome! Glad you both enjoyed it :)

  • Donna November 25, 2014 - 12:13 pm Reply

    I used to live in Japan for 2 years, and after moving to SF…. I still haven’t found a “decent” Japanese curry spot. I’m excited to give them a try!

    • CynEats November 25, 2014 - 8:14 pm Reply

      Hope you like it! ;)

  • Daniel November 24, 2014 - 6:58 pm Reply

    I love kare-ken! Their curry is really the best and I have to limit myself to not come here after work everyday.

  • Chris November 21, 2014 - 7:44 pm Reply

    Can we switch lives please? It looks like an awesome little spot, I need to check this out asap!

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