Kenka’s


This one’s dedicated to my friend, Derrick.

So, let me just quickly go over what some of my favorite dishes are, then show you the epic four-pound curry challenge Derrick took on this Friday.

Kenka’s has long had a local cult following. A shallow dissent into this boisterous St. Mark’s joint transports you into a different world entirely. At first, frightening and bizarre, but then intriguing and almost captivating, this underground lair seems to take a piece of Japanese subcultural straight from the rural  scenes of the country.

An unrelenting sort of Japanese marching music blasts overhead. Folk art, mainly of nude cartoon Japanese women, line the walls and menu.  Straw-woven stools and chunky slabs of wood as tables, soaked in years of spilled sake, serve as your dining accommodations. New patrons usually eye the facilities, conscious not to get too comfortable – that is until the Kirin and sake take over.

The menu displays an overwhelming array of pictures and foreign characters. You’ll find traditional items like soba noodles and curry udon, but also more Fear Factor-like options like grilled offal and bull testicles. But for something in between, my reliable favorites are the steamed custard egg and tuna-topped salad. The dainty bowl of soft-as-tofu egg is steamed to perfection with slices of shiitake mushroom. It’s a light, healthy choice against the menu’s starch-based majority.  The tuna sashimi salad is refreshing as well, drizzled in chili oil and fresh lemon juice.

But here’s the main event – and this is not for the faint of mind or digestive system.

Derrick attempted to take down four pounds of rice and curry in 20 minutes. Normally $25 for this feast on a tray, if you ever manage to complete the task, you’d get it free of charge, plus a T-shirt. To my knowledge, no one I know has ever seem it accomplished. But Derrick, being the master speed eater that he is, came closer to the finish line than anyone else. Although it got pretty painful watching him force in the last few spoonfuls, it was an honorable shot. Good job, Derrick!

Now here’s his photo play-by-play.


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