J-Curry in Tokyo
I recently tried out Hachinoya (03-3547-0810). Located behind Kabuki-za in Ginza, this is the first branch of a popular Nagasaki curry shop that started in 1951. After you descend a steep staircase you reach a narrow, brightly lit dining space, with a wrap-around counter and one staff member (at least during my mid-afternoon visit). J-pop plays in the background.
I tried the beef curry - Y800 for omori (extra-large) - which was very tasty. Good-sized chunks of tender beef, with a nicely balanced sauce that was amply spiced but not overpowering. Maybe just a bit salty for my taste, but still very good. The water in my pitcher was lightly lemon-flavored. I also tried the pork-bun sandwich which comes with a pot of Pu-erh tea (Y550 for the set) - a delicious slab of kakuni (stewed pork) in a small, fluffy Chinese-style bun.
Curry varieties are chicken, beef, vegetable, and hayashi rice (Y700 each), plus omuraisu (Y850), and chocolate curry (Y980) made with chocolate from Ecuador. Toppings include soft-boiled egg, crab cream croquette and menchi-katsu. If you're really hungry there's a mega-omori option - Y1600 gets you a curry platter that's 2.5 times the normal size.
I'll probably go back to try the chocolate curry. I like the fact that they're open all afternoon instead of closing at 2pm.
Tomato in Ogikubo (03-3393-3262) is very highly rated on both AskU and Tabelog, so I thought I'd give them a try. They're an old-fashioned Yoshoku restaurant that serves "European stews and English curries," located on a back street about five minutes south of the station.
I had the veal milk curry, advertised as a mild, "creamy" curry made with veal from Hokkaido. The sauce is based on fond de veau and incorporates some 36 different spices, all of which are on display on the counter. The flavor is within the spectrum of yoshoku/European-style Japanese curries, but still quite unique, and it reminded me a little of Chinese medicinal herbs, in a good way.
Besides the veal, I opted for the Y300 seasonal vegetable add-on, and I'm glad I did. It included more than ten vegetables - asparagus, lotus root, okra, green pepper, mushrooms, daikon, etc., and even some bits of orange. The vegetables weren't mushy, and the various flavors and textures were a nice foil for the rather assertive curry sauce.
The restaurant is a small (15-seat) mom-and-pop operation, running for more than twenty years. My curry was around Y2000, and it came with strawberry ice cream at the end. The beef-tongue curry is one of the most popular, but I wanted to start out with something mild so I went with the veal.