Dec 27, 2017
When I think about my favorite Japanese foods, curry would have to come out close to the top. It's not a food that I even knew existed in Japan before I moved here - curry was a food that I would associate with Indian or Thai food, but Japanese food (in my mind) was reserved for all things sushi and ramen.
Living on an Air Force Base in Japan for our first few years here, so many Americans that we knew loved the chain CoCo Ichibanya. It probably had something to do with the fact that it was a comfort food - perhaps not the "burgers and fries" style of comfort food that people were used to back Stateside, but a comfort food that presented a foray into the world of Japanese cuisine without being too overwhelming. Plus, a food that you can add toppings like chicken katsu or hamburger steak to? It's no wonder that it had such popularity!
One thing that I've noticed though as I've traveled throughout Japan during my time here has been the difference from place to place in how they prepare their curry. Sure, you'll get the standard variations at chains - but if you stop at smaller "mom and pop" shops throughout the country, you'll get different regional variations of the much loved dish. Generally speaking, the regional takes on curry tend to focus on ingredients that are prevalent in the area. If you don't necessarily have the time or the funds to travel all across Japan right now in search of different tasty curries to try, there's an easy way that you can get your hands on unique types - and that's at Don Quijote stores!
These are just some of the regional specialties you can find there that you might want to try!
Perhaps there's no surprise here that a port city would focus on seafood in their Japanese curry! When we visited Hakodate a couple of years back we enjoyed many different seafood based dishes (try the seafood ramen at the morning market - my husband loved it!) so adding seafood to Japanese curry sounds like it could make a tasty addition.
Oysters and Miyajima? It's something that I never knew was a regional specialty in the area until I did some research. There's almost 500 years of oyster farming history in the area, and there's even an Oyster festival held there. If you do want to attend the Oyster Festival, it's held on the second Saturday and Sunday of February each year (more details are over here).
Aomori are known for apples - they produce over 50% of Japan's market for them, so popping them into some curry for a bit of added sweetness makes for a great contrast and a perfect way to highlight the region's most known export.
Kyushu are known for their chicken so the Hakata curry packets highlight chicken as an ingredient to add in. Tasty, hearty and filling!
If you are a fan of Japanese curry, hopefully you'll have the opportunity to try out some of these various curry styles that you can prepare at home. If you are traveling throughout the country, try ordering some Japanese curry off the menu somewhere - you might be pleasantly surprised at how different (and tasty) the dish will be from place to place!
(For the record, my husband and I still rave about the tasty curry we got at a small cafe in Tottori - it was probably our most favorite regional take! Heavily tomato flavored, with chicken drumsticks cooked in it. Delicious!)
After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!