Once a dish found only in fine dining, curry has now become the common folk’s comfort food in Japan. Japanese curry is completely different from any Southeast Asian curry. Its flavors are more akin to those of a thickened beef stew. You can have it for lunch, dinner, heck, some even eat it for breakfast with natto. It is typically served over rice and accompanied by a panko-breaded fried cutlet topping known as katsu. Various preparations of this dish have spawned across this island nation, but today we’ll focus on Kanazawa curry.
Kanazawa curry was invented by Yoshikazu Tanaka, the founder of Champion’s Curry in the 1960′s. It is characterized by the following:
- Curry is thicker and richer.
- Served with shredded cabbage.
- Served in an oval-shaped stainless steel bowl.
- Eaten with a fork or spork.
- Fried cutlet (カツ) is placed directly on top of the curry.
- Curry is served over the rice completely concealing the rice.
- A drizzle of tonkatsu sauce over the cutlet.
Let’s explore 4 of Kanazawa’s top destinations for this stick-to-your ribs dish.
Champion’s Curry (カレーのチャンピオン)
The original Kanazawa curry is one of the “lighter” versions. This curry is a pale brown with just the tiniest hint of spice. Although thicker than traditional curry, it is still pretty saucy. The standard here is the L katsukare (Lカツカレー). The medium thick pork cutlet has a finely ground crispy panko crust. The cutlet is quite juicy and surprisingly easy to cut with your fork considering its thickness. At 780円, this is the priciest of the four.
Go!Go! Curry – (ゴーゴーカレー)
This is Champion’s biggest competitor in the area. Their intimidating gorilla mascot is fitting as this the boldest, thickest, and darkest curry of them all. Go!Go! claims that their curry is cooked for 55 hours until all meat and vegetables have disintegrated into this thick black caramelized curry. Yum. Here, you go with the rosukatsukare (ロースカツ). You get a very thin pork cutlet covered in flaky crispy panko. The meat is very soft. The caramelization of the meats make this curry one of the sweeter ones for 750円.
Turban Curry – (ターバンカレー)
Turban is your mom-and-pop lunch spot – closed by 7pm during the week and by 5pm on the weekend. Their curry is very similar to Go!Go!’s albeit not as thick or bold. Unfortunately, this shop’s staple rosukatsu, is a bit carelessly prepared. The cutlet is not as crispy and is heavily doused in tonkatsu sauce. Its saved by the surprising juiciness carried by this thin cut of meat. The tonkatsu sauce makes the dish a bit sweet, but the curry itself is quite nice and beefy. At 650円, it is the cheapest of the quartet.
Gold Curry – (ゴールドカレー)
Finally, you have Gold Curry. As you approach the shop, you are greeted by a Ganesha-like character hinting at the flavor profile of this curry. It is definitely the thickest of the four curries – those ice cold water jugs really come in handy to wash this baby down. It is heavy on the curry powder imparting strong Indian flavors. Their signature G katsukare (Gカツカレー) includes a thick cut pork cutlet that’s a bit on the chewy-side, but with a pleasant crunchy breading for 750円. On the 5th, 15th, and 25th of the month, you get up to 200円 off of your G katsukare order!
Personally, I prefer Curry House CoCo ICHIBANYA which you can find all throughout Japan (I get to bump up the spice level here), BUT Kanazawa curry has definitely grown on me. I think I’m even beginning to crave it.
This link will take you to a Google map pinpointing the location of these shops. There are dozens of Champion’s Curry and Go!Go! Curry, so I’ve only listed a few of them.
Mauricio is a 2nd year ALT who eats close to the Japanese average of 84 servings of curry a year.