Big eaters in Japan have a saying: “Curry and rice isn’t something you eat. It’s something you drink.” And as with any beverage, nothing’s better than free refills.

We’ve talked about it before, but it’s worth repeating. The Japanese curry chain CoCo Ichibanya (also known as just CoCo Ichi), provides a free refill of curry sauce to any customer one who asks for it.

We’re not surprised that this service has stayed under the radar for as log as it has. There is an additional charge for extra large helpings of rice at CoCo Ichi, so most people naturally assume they must charge for extra curry sauce too.

But the curry refill offer is indeed true. It’s an official company policy and available at all of CoCo Ichi’s locations in Japan. Refills are available for customers who order pork or beef curry sauces, regardless of the toppings they choose to go along with it.

CoCo Ichi’s generous service neatly eliminates a problem faced by many curry fans: eating too much of the sauce too quickly and ending up with a plate of dry rice left over. There is one catch, though. Although we’ve heard whispers of pushy patrons getting multiple extra helpings, the policy states that customers are limited to just one refill per order.

We sent our reporter to field test the system at a local branch. He ordered a plate of beef cutlet curry, and when his sauce ran low, he asked the server if he could have a refill, to which she smiled and replied, “Sure.” The refill was equal to about 30-40 percent of the amount of sauce that came with the order initially.

Some diners might feel a little embarrassed flagging a server down to ask for a refill, and we’re sure some others show up so hungry they know they’re going to need the extra curry. In that case, it’s also possible to ask for an extra large portion of sauce from the beginning (in Japanese, kare ru ome ni shite kudasai) when putting in your order. Be aware that this counts as your refill though, so when that sauce is gone, it’s gone.

In recent years, Cocoichi has expanded overseas. Curious about whether the curry refill system made the move across the Pacific, we contacted the company’s U.S. division and received the following response:

We do not provide the service of free extra curry sauce. Instead of that, we provide extra spicy / mild curry sauce at $1.49 and keema curry sauce at $2.49 for our customers.

So there you have it. CoCo Ichi’s refill service is available only in the restaurant’s country of origin. After years of being tacked onto the end of stories about panty vending machines and tentacle porn, the phrase “only in Japan” can finally be used to describe something appetizing.

▼Beef cutlet curry
▼Some seriously good grub!
▼Oh no! Running out of curry!!
▼And here’s our refill! Awesome!
▼Our delicious beef cutlet curry, back at full force. Down the hatch!

Images: RocketNews24
Related: Coco Ichi official website
[ Read in Japanese ]