There’s a long history of athletes associating themselves with restaurants in New York. Back in the 1880s, the place to be was the Hoffman House (it had a rather risque recling French nude hanging over the bar). Joe D. made Toot’s Shor’s joint a second home. Mickey and friends did their damage at the Copa. And then there’s Hideki Matsui. We often hear about how big a star Matsui is in Japan; with the opening of the first Go!Go! Curry franchise in NY, we get a taste of the madness. The place is a virtual shrine to Matsui. The name—Go!Go!—translates to “55” in English, and I’m guessing our readers appreciate the numerological significance. The place is festooned with Matsui memorabilia, clippings, autographs, and Yankee banners, though it all seems unofficial and sort of ad hoc, as if he stopped in one day and signed everything on the wall. It is, quite clearly, homage and not an officially licensed production. Which all makes it kind of strangely endearing. (Also, when he homers, you get a free upgrade to your meal.)
As for the food, well, there are some things about Japanese culture I just don’t understand (Hello Kitty? Really?), and never will. Go!Go! specializes in an unctuous curry that’s pastey-sweet. Imagine a red bean sauce that’s been accidentally left to ferment in the back of the fridge for 2 years. This is slopped over the fried meat of your choice: chicken, shrimp, or pork (“katsu”), which is what I had. Your order is portioned according to baseball terminology; I had the “Walk,” the smallest size, which was still large enough to feed the Hanshin Tigers for three days. The Grand Slam could probably satisfy the entire left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. It’s hard to imagine that the same nation that created sushi—delicate combinations of seafood presented with minimalist precision—also came up with this, a massive plate of rice topped by fried meat slathered with glop. Anyway, it works for Godzilla, so you might want to give it a shot.