Muracci’s Japanese Curry & Grill has finally opened a chain on Telegraph Avenue for Berkeley residents to experience the fresh, home-style Japanese curry it is famous for. Muracci’s was originally a huge success in the San Francisco district, with a second opening in 2010 located in downtown Los Altos.
I met up with owners Tamiko and Yasuyuki Murata, the husband-and-wife duo behind this restaurant, who were originally from Osaka, Japan. They moved to San Francisco in 2000 to introduce authentic, fresh and convenient Japanese food to the diverse set of business people in the Bay Area.
When Tamiko was introduced to this location, she immediately liked the Berkeley setting, with its bustling college students and people who were open to trying new foods. Her restaurant is based on the motto that curry is not only a staple and delicious food but also “a casual food” in Japan — one that is eaten more often than sushi! Tamiko let me in on her original restaurant recipe for the curry: because ingredients are the most important aspect of cooking, she makes sure to put vegetables, natural meat stock instead of canned broth, Chinese spices and herbs and a lot of heart into her cooking. Each batch of curry sauce takes two days of simmering and preparing in order to acquire the authentic thick, creamy taste of the curry base. There is also a vegetarian and vegan curry base available on request.
I decided to order the agedashi tofu as an appetizer and the tonkatsu with hot spicy curry. Tonkatsu is a shredded-pork fillet that has been peppered and dipped in flour and egg and coated with breadcrumbs, ready to be fried. The menu had many types of curry besides pork, ranging from beef to chicken to salmon. There was also an assortment of donburis and curry-noodle soups. All of the curry plates were served with white or brown rice and special house pickles. The delicious, steaming food came out in fewer than 10 minutes. The tonkatsu was presented very well with the curry, not overpowering the multigrain brown rice or pork portion of the plate. The first bite of the curry was piping hot with a delicious aroma and just the right level of spiciness. The tonkatsu was moist and tender on the inside and fried to a perfect crispy, golden color. The portions were great, and I was able to finish the curry, rice and tonkatsu at the same time.
Although the decor was a little bland because Muracci’s was still in a soft-opening phase, the restaurant is well worth a visit for its food and customer service . The chef came out to talk to many of the customers, asking for opinions on the taste of the curry, the blend of the ingredients and how fresh the food was.
Muracci’s is located on Telegraph Avenue between Channing Way and Haste Street. Its official opening date is Sept. 27.