Signs of a Fancy Curry Boom Emerging – High-Class Traditional Japanese Gourmet Restaurants Also Getting Involved, One Place Even Offers 10,000 yen Curry
Recently, curry rice, loved by children and easily made with stock bought at supermarkets, has been undergoing a transformation in Japan. Long-standing ryotei (high-class Japanese restaurants) and French restaurants are entering the market one after the other. Even a 10,000 yen premium curry with carefully selected ingredients has come on the scene. Perhaps the next star after the ramen boom will be fancy curry?
“The Flavor of the Old Ryotei“
Funaba Kitcho Shinsaibashi in Osaka’s Chuo Ward started selling curry for lunch limiting their offering to 20 meals (per day) in September 2005 for customers “to casually enjoy the taste of a ryotei.”
Famous Hyogo Prefecture beef brand “Sanda Beef” sirloin and more than 10 types of vegetables, including sweet potatoes from Kagoshima Prefecture, are cooked in a Japanese-style curry stock that uses a dashi broth of skipjack tuna and kombu seaweed for a touch of flavor.
Though somewhat expensive at 2100 yen, the meals are almost sold out every day since they have gained popularity since diners can enjoy a ryotei’s “curveball.” Manager Noriyoshi Kawaura (43) explains, “We have a good reputation from a wide demographic including women eating together and (male-female) couples.”
Selling 10,000 yen curry is the “Yokohama Curry Museum” in Yokohama City. The dish is full of top-class ingredients such as top-grade Yonezawa beef, 40 types of spices, and a gold-medal winning wine for a touch of flavor.
The Museum began offering the high-class curry last September on a limited basis, but changed its plans and continues to sell it due to unexpected popularity. The Museum’s analysis: “Curry’s base has spread even to those with deep pockets.”
“A Secret Menu Item”
There are even French restaurants inserting curry into their courses and gaining popularity for it. The Lunch Course (2310 or 3465 yen) offered by “Comme chez vous” (sp?) in Yoyogi, Tokyo, allows guests to choose from meat, fish, or curry for the main course.
The murmuring curry, which does not include any meat or vegetables, adds curry stock, wine and spices to a buillon made from boiling 10 types of vegetables and beef shanks for 8 hours. “The concept is not curry,” claims chef and owner Yoshihide Koga. “It is an excellent sauce from French cuisine.”
Originally, this was a “secret menu item” brough out to customers who asked for it after finishing the night’s courses. The meal’s reputation spread through word of mouth, and last summer Koga opened “La Sauce Koga,” a restaurant specializing in curry, in Tokyo’s Ginza district.
Jinsuke Mizuno, culinary researcher who has authored many “restaurant tour” and recipe books, analyzes these signs of a boom: “Much like with ramen, more and more specialty stores will open that offer various soups. The needs of customers who want “delicious food even if it’s expensive” will increase, I think.”
(Picture: “French” Curry that costs about as much as the new hard drive I can’t afford)