10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics

10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics

Ask any Japanese child what their favorite dish is and most will answer curry-rice. In fact, many adults will give the same answer. So popular and so regularly eaten, that has almost become our national dish. Seriously, just writing about it makes me want to run into the kitchen and make a pot! A lot of family households eat curry-rice once a week; it is the dish of choice for outdoor communal meals and school camping trips; and practically every tourist destination in Japan has a curry-rice restaurant. 

Curry was introduced into Japan in the late 19th century by the British navy at the port of Yokosuka (more on that later). The British used curry spices to flavor sauces and stews and that practice, with some modifications, became the basis for the curries we now consume in massive amounts. These days, frying spices and flour in oil to make a roux to add to stewed meat and vegetables has given way to simpler pre-measured blocks of paste. Quick, easy, and nutritious, Japanese curry is generally milder than its Indian counterpart, and sweeter. Often, fruits such as apple or dates are used to add sweetness, but some people add honey, chocolate or even cheese into the pot. Everyone has their favorite way of modifying the taste. Meats used include beef, chicken and pork, while vegetables can include onion, carrot, potato, aubergine, sweet potato, pumpkin or anything that seems appropriate. There are no hard and fast rules to this!

Japanese curry is usually eaten atop a bed of sticky rice (hence: curry-rice!) with a spoon. We have even adapted a Japanese style sweet pickle to match it. For the visitor to Japan, finding curry-rice is relatively easy; just head the nearest family restaurant as they are bound to serve a good one. But for the more adventurous traveler, the following locations might appeal.



 

10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics

 

1. Yokosuka Beef Curry/Navy Curry

10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics_Yokosuka Beef Curry

Already mentioned, the port of Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture, is Japan’s historical curry town. The Japanese Navy adopted the British Navy’s curry, adapted it and, to this day, every ship prides itself on its curry, which is traditionally eaten on Fridays. Gyorantei is the most famous curry shop in the town.

 

2. Matsusaka Beef Curry

10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics_Matsusaka Beef Curry

Beef remains the single most popular meat for Japanese curry, and this one from Mie prefecture is widely regarded as one of the best. You can enjoy curry-rice in any soba or udon shops. Restaurant Iitaka in Matsusaka city is one of recommendations.

 

3. Nagoya Cochin Chicken Curry

Nagoya Cochin chicken was cross bred from local owari chicken and imported Chinese Cochin in the 19th century. Its richly flavored, reddish meat is enjoyed in many dishes and makes for superb curries. If you go to Tokyu Hotel in Nagoya, you can find a typical Nagoya Cochin Chicken curry in the coffee shop “Montmartre”.

 

4. Kagoshima Kurobuta Curry

10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics_Kagoshima Kurobuta Curry

Kagoshima prefecture is famous for its black pork. Slow cooked for melt in the mouth softness, this widely regarded pork makes delicious curry. “Curry teria Sara” is a place to go if you are interested in black pork curry in black source.

 

5. Hokkaido Shika Deer Curry

10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics_Hokkaido Shika Deer Curry

Slowly cooked, tender venison curries have been eaten in Hokkaido for many years, and with the deer population now too high for the environment to sustain, culled shika meat is ever more plentiful. When you arrive at New Chitose airport, “The Earth rook & tarry at the terminal building is easy to try the special deer curry.

 

6. Aomori Hotate Curry

10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics_Aomori Hotate Curry

Plump and meaty scallops carefully cooked in an apple based curry sauce offer a delicious take on seafood curry. “Restaurant La Sera” in Hotel JAL city Aomori is a choice to taste Hotate curry.

 

7. Tottori Nashi Curry

Tottori prefecture is a major growing area for nashi pears and these make a futility sweet curry sauce for any meat, though minced pork or chicken are most common. Tottori Sankouen is the most famous nashi farm in the area, who has a restaurant to offer this delicious nashi curry.

 

8. Nagano Apple Curry

10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics_Nagano Apple Curry

Nagano is another fruit growing area, offering a variety of apple sweetened curries. Often pigs and cattle are fed with apples, and this too sweetens meats used in the local curries. You can buy and take back home Apple curry packs in any souvenir shops.

 

9. Chiba Saba Curry

10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics_Chiba Saba Curry

Chiba prefecture has long been at the heart of the mackerel fishing and canning industry. Mackerel curry, though perhaps not to everyone’s taste, is nevertheless a unique blend of strong flavors and should not be dismissed. You can buy can of Saba Curry from Shidaya’s web shop.

 

10. Wakayama Kujira Curry

I doubt there will be many outside Japan who would countenance eating whale meat in any dish. In fact, there aren’t many Japanese these days who would eat it either. But Kujira Curry is usually in ready cooked packet to buy from on-line shops.

 

Conclusion

You might think that I have been exaggerating with some of my recommended curry destinations, but the fact is, we can make curry out of just about anything except old bicycles. Whatever the local products across Japan, somebody will have curried them at some time or another. Of course, the visitor to our shores will eat what they feel comfortable eating, but I still think your best option is a family restaurant or a soba/udon-noodle shop.

 

10 Destinations for Japanese Curry Fanatics

1. Yokosuka Beef Curry/Navy Curry
2. Matsusaka Beef Curry
3. Nagoya Cochin Chicken Curry
4. Kagoshima Kurobuta Curry
5. Hokkaido Shika Deer Curry
6. Aomori Hotate Curry
7. Tottori Nashi Curry
8. Nagano Apple Curry
9. Chiba Saba Curry
10. Wakayama Kujira Curry