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Curry

If not too many people mind, let's digress from comparing Y30k sushi courses and Ryugin visits for a sec...where's the curry good?

Here's what I know about:
- In Jinbocho, I've been to both Ethiopia and Sumatra, and was impressed by neither. Too 'Indian' style for me, since I like the fattier, sweeter Japanese style
- In east-side Kanda, I really like Budoya (written in kanji, 'grape room') because they had a sort of vegetable-based, Japanified take on the Indian style. And I like the atmosphere and owners.
- Around the corner from there in Kanda is Hongokutei (you may call it 'moto-ishi-tei' if that helps), which is a weird curry-and-whisky place with suited staff and spicy curry (in a better way)
- In west-side Kanda, and also in Nihonbashi (Kyobashi) and also in Tokyo Station, there's Dom Pierre (actually called Loup de Mer in Kanda), which makes, I think, the best purely Japanese-style curry I've had. I'm a little suspicious of it because they sell their curry mix at the register though...

What else is worth trying? The older and grubbier (call it retro if you want), the better! I haven't been to Manten, so go ahead and recommend it. Extra points for places I can walk to from the office (Otemachi).

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  1. I know what you mean about being "too Indian" - at a certain point I'd rather just have real Indian food. Maybe it made more sense 40 years ago when there wasn't much real Indian food around.

    I like Loup de Mer; I think it's run by a Dom Pierre graduate. Also Hachinoya in Ginza: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/513429 . If you like Oufuu curry, here's a rundown on several places in town that I put together: http://www.bento.com/rev/curry.html .

    For Oufuu curry I think Tomato is my favorite, although it's a bit hard to get to and sometimes there's a long wait. Bondy is also quite good (in Jimbocho and another branch between Jimbocho and Otemachi), and Petit Feu a la Campagne, if you don't mind cigarette smoke.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robb S

      Tomato is a schlep, even from the west side of the city. I found it had a "medicinal" aftertaste. Perhaps they are a bit too enthusiastic about ingredient quantity. It was interesting and not bad. But I found myself guzzling water. It is pricey too.... The Curry Database seems to be picking up steam--> http://currydb.supleks.jp/ .

      1. re: Silverjay

        That's cool, I should be able to go to Bondy for lunch, and Manten also, if I ride my bike or combine with a weekend guitar store run. Ogikubo is on my list of 'places to spend a day', so Tomato could happen too.

        I see on the currydb that Delhi in Shinkawa is ranked highly. I know that place and it's not one I would have considered in the past. I also see that they have a fried rice db!

        LdM is actually on the Perignon web site, so I was figuring it was all part of the empire but didn't ask. It still makes me laugh that they have expensive French, pastry and curry under one company.

        1. re: jem589

          I have nothing to say 'cept for Manten. I'm not a fan of japanese curries in general and Manten is the only version that I actually like. In general it's a bit too sweet for my tastes.

          If you do go to Manten, be prepared for them to provide your spoon in the water glass and for a shot of the worst coffee I've ever had - it's really quite an experience.

          I may have told the story before, but the first time I went with 3 co-workers we all ordered the massive zenbu-no-sei. None of us finished, and the man manning the curry station politely (if snarkily) asked 'give up?' as we waddled outside to decompress.

          Stick to the katsu or fried shumai (or both!)

          1. re: jem589

            Just got back from Bondy (only took 18 months from the above post). Quite nice, surprisingly spicy, complex and sweet. I wouldn't compare to the low-end tasty junk at Manten; the styles are so different. Both have their place.

      2. I don't really like the gluggy Japanese curry, but I enjoy the dry curry at Haiti Curry:
        http://www.cafehaiti.co.jp/
        it is lacking heat but they have some good hot sauce that straightens that out.

        This place in mishuku near Ikejiri-ohashi station always has customers lined up but I don't understand why.
        http://www.bistro-kirakutei.co.jp/

        1. I'm going to plug this real quick:
          http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pi...
          The Curry Database is correct about M's: The best I've had in memory. Ethiopia, pretty underwhelming. I went to the Bondy in Shibaura (near Mita), and thought it to be pretty good. Mostly empty in that neighborhood.

          6 Replies
          1. re: rockrock

            Agree with you on Ethiopa - I just can't understand why it's so highly ranked. I wonder if everyone giving it a great rating ordered a much spicier version. Perhaps one of us should go back, order a 50 and see how it fares.

            It's a shame the waiter always pushes people towards the 7 and under levels. None of my party was able to discern any level of spiciness.

            1. re: rockrock

              I waited on line about 45 minutes for Sunday lunch at M's Curry. The curry roux was quite good, but I thought the chicken filling was rather skimpy; I wish they had some more meaty options like a combination plate or something like that. The garlicky salad dressing was amazing though, and the garlicky cabbage slaw quite good.

              1. re: rockrock

                I hate to report this, but M's is gone. After a fair amount of wandering down some quiet streets past the end of the Chiyoda line, I found myself at 2-10-6 Sasazuka, but there was a restaurant named... I forgot. There was an 'R' involved, i think. Anyway, I finally asked some guys who were hosing down the alley outside their fish stall, and we had a classic international conversation. I said "excuse me" in Japanese and "curry" in English, and they conveyed in hand gestures -- don't ask me how, but I got it -- that the place had closed, and there were new owners. I then asked if this was a thumbs-up or thumbs-down and I basically got sad smiles and 'meh...'

                So, back to the neighborhood near my hotel, where I sat with some serviceable barbecued pork on a stick, kimchi, and some Kirin beers, followed by a box of Pocky and an update to the Chowhound community. It was actually a pretty enjoyable evening, even though I didn't wind up with any kick-ass curry. But, I wanted you all to know in case any of you find yourself considering a similar venture.

                1. re: TreatyOak

                  Thanks for the update.

                  Apparently the master died suddenly a few months ago:
                  http://curry401.blog94.fc2.com/blog-e...

              2. By far the best curry I have had in Tokyo is a tiny Indian place in Shibaura called Rani. Residential and office area, nothing there, and then suddenly you chance upon this very makeshift looking grubby little place with two or three tables, the TV running permanently and the owner's child playing in the room. The curry is sensational. I normally find curry terrible in Tokyo; the Indians producing it should be ashamed of themselves. This restaurant on the other hand is very good. Everything is prepared from scratch and you can watch the chef prepare it (you are separated from the kitchen by glass). Everything is prepared to order, so it often takes ages to get served (half an hour even if you are the only person in the restaurant), but it is worth it. I lived in London for many years and had good curry all the time; this is better than the vast majority. An English friend used to eat there four or five times a week before returning to London. He is a curry fanatic and also rated it very, very highly.

                Not sure about good Japanese style curry. I don't particularly rate it so have not tried to find any exceptional places. I would not really even call it curry. It is OK, but it is something rather different.

                11 Replies
                1. re: Asomaniac

                  Would love to get an address, google maps link or some clue of how to get to Rani (from Tamachi station I presume).

                  Thanks

                  1. re: kamiosaki

                    I will see if I have their flyer at home and will pass on the address. It is very close to the two Shibaura Park Tower buildings, maybe 8 minutes' walk from Tamachi station.

                  2. re: Asomaniac

                    Of course Japanese curry is different from Indian curry - they're two very different cuisines. Expecting it to be like Indian curry is kind of missing the point. Thai curries are different from Indian curries too, but you wouldn't say that you can't call them curry just because they're different.

                    My favorite Indian curries are probably served at Dhaba and its sister restaurants Gurgaon and Khyber. The quality is excellent, and the different varieties all have very different flavors - they're not just the same sauce with different ingredients. They're also nicely decorated dining rooms with decent service and nice ambience. (If you've tried them, how does Rani stack up?)

                    1. re: Robb S

                      Except that unlike Thai curry, the Japanese curry actually was trying to imitate Indian curry, having been introduced by the British as a bastardisation of the curry they knew from India which they administered at the time. That's what I meant by 'can't really call it curry' - it is so different from what it was trying to imitate when it was invented. I don't think it is bad - a nice katsu kare really hits the spot sometimes - but I have not come across a great deal of variation in terms of the flavours in comparison with Indian curries. Will be very happy to be proven wrong though, if someone can recommend some kick-ass Japanese curry house that is very different from the usual.

                      I will definitely try the restaurants you mention (have not been yet), and will report back as to how the stack up against Rani. Where are they?

                      1. re: Asomaniac

                        I'm actually more fond of the Oufuu curries to tell the truth; when J curries get too close to Indian I'd rather just have real Indian. And they're all a bit of an acquired taste (it was years before I really appreciated them), but I think there's enough variety and craft and tastiness to make them chow-worthy.

                        Here's a link to Robbie Swinnerton's review of the Dhaba group: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bi... . They're all near each other at the north end of Ginza and Kyobashi.

                        1. re: Robb S

                          Excellent, thank you. Will explore; the review is making me very hungry!

                        2. re: Asomaniac

                          I don't know if it's all that true that "Japanese curry actually was trying to imitate Indian curry". I don't know much about what "curry" means/meant for the British, but most old-school yoshoku recipes for curry has little similarities to Indian curry in terms of technique and ingredients. It follows French technique more than anything else, with the use of roux, veal stock, wine, etc.
                          See this thread, for instance: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/275003

                          Though Japanese tastes continue to change for more traditional Indian or Thai curries, I'm still a big fan of curries from yoshoku restaurants. The more "traditional" the better. Like the one at Kyobashi dom Pierre (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/352892 ). I'm still jonesing to check out a number of yoshoku places on my next visit to Tokyo, like many listed here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/372884 .

                          1. re: E Eto

                            Japanese curry was originally introduced to the Japanese by the British. The British navy tried to reproduce Indian curry, hence the statement that it was trying to imitate Indian curry. Presumably the Japanese will have since adapted it in many ways (I have no idea.) I would assume that the British navy did not use wine or veal stock - presumably it would have been a simple meat stew with curry powder.

                            1. re: Asomaniac

                              Yes. I think we all know the history. But you seem to be the only one thinking it was trying to imitate the original. Is a meat stew with curry sauce really imitating Indian curry? I guess Chicago style pizza would be trying to imitate Neopolitan pizza, or Mexican al pastor is trying to imitate middle eastern shawarma, etc.

                          2. re: Asomaniac

                            n reference to the something different, the shop curry shop in Okachimachi on Tuesdays have a particular “keema curry with a beef confit”. The usual keema curry is thick, spicy, simple... (refer to my previous post for the details)

                      2. I went to Manten with mayoteiru risu and chiisu tencho and I thought it rated a 7. I found it very similar to Sumatra, so if you thought Sumatra was meh, so will be Manten. I actually prefer Sumatra to Manten, so that should tell you something.

                        For Japanese curry, I actually quite like the Tokyo Curry Labo and These in Nishi Azabu. And going upscale, way upscale, the Orchid Room at the Okura and the Shiseido Parlour both serve a mean curry.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Uncle Yabai

                          Hi Uncle Yabai,

                          Thanks for the recs. :) For the upscale ones like Orchid Room and Shiseido Parlour, are they "upscale" because of the ingredients / price (like using, say, Grade A5 Wagyu), or they're upscale restaurants in general that serve a fairly priced, great curry? Thanks.

                          1. re: exilekiss

                            I'm surprised you don't know about Shiseido Parlour. It's one of the classic places in Tokyo serving yoshoku cuisine. Shiseido Parlour opened around the turn of the century (1903?) as the first soda fountain shop, and later opened the first ice cream counter, introducing ice cream to Japan. It's gone on to incorporate more western cuisines, and gradually became the grand dame of yoshoku cuisine. Besides the cosmetics, Shiseido is a brand recognized for its yoshoku products, especially their curry (see here, for instance: http://8tokyo.com/2009/07/18/retort-c... ).

                            http://www.shiseido.co.jp/parlour/htm...

                            1. re: E Eto

                              Hi E Eto,

                              Sorry for the late reply (busy around the holidays). (^_^;

                              Thanks for the info. I usually don't enjoy Yoshoku cuisine as much as other facets of Japanese cuisine (Sushi, Ramen, etc.), so I don't seek it out much.

                              What are your favorite Yoshoku eateries in Tokyo? Thanks! :)

                              1. re: exilekiss

                                I haven't been to enough places to determine a favorite, but here's a post with a bunch of places I'm hoping to try.
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/372884

                          2. re: Uncle Yabai

                            Tokyo Curry Lab has dramatically broadened their menu as of December. They used to serve only four curries, but now they have several more options, including katsu curry, ebi-fry curry, and a great ratatouille curry that's chock full of vegetables (and ground pork I think).

                            1. re: Uncle Yabai

                              Does the Shiseido Parlour put a decent amount of meat in their curry? Given the price, one would think they would, but in my experience, Japanese beef curry in Japan doesn't have a lot of meat in it. (my first taste of Japanese curry in Japan was a far cry from the Japanese curry my mother used to make back in Canada, and she's not even Japanese!)

                              Is Shiseido Parlour a reservations-only kind of place?