Café Latino sits in the quiet residential area of Asakusa, and seems to be your average urban curry restaurant with cozy, modern decor. Certainly, one wouldn’t expect to find something like ‘Strawberry Curry’ on the menu.

Part of Café Latino’s spring-only menu, Strawberry Curry is available from late December to mid-March and requires a reservation for customers who wish to order it. We put in ours, and made our way to the restaurant to see how this unlikely combination holds up.

This is your Throwback Thursday article of the week, your peek into the archives of RocketNews24 featuring articles from back when we were just getting started. We’d hate for you to miss any of the quality quirky news from Asia and Japan just because you recently stumbled upon our site. And if you’re a devout RN24 reader, thanks for sticking around! Enjoy this blast from the past!

(Originally published on April 7, 2011)

Sitting down at our table, we were told that we can choose the spiciness of the curry on a scale of one to ten. We decided to go with level eight, as we thought it would be a good balance to the strawberries’ sweetness. We were warned that a level eight is still considerably spicy, so we decided to add a topping of ice cream, as well as the mysteriously-named ‘panda beans’ for good measure.

Soon after, the Strawberry Curry made its appearance at our table, and what an appearance it was! Thinly-sliced strawberries delicately encircled a ball of rice, creating a very soft, spring-like feel. Additional strawberries were mixed into the rice itself, giving it a pleasant pink hue that made the dish seem more like a dessert than an entrée.

While we were being dazzled by the vernal lump of rice that lay before us, the ice cream – which was topped with red spices for some extra spring flare – began to melt seductively into the curry.

Finally, mixed into the curry itself were even more strawberries and a hearty helping of the aforementioned panda beans, which are apparently called that by the shop owner because they look like little panda faces.

The mixture was all very pleasing on the eyes, but, unsure of what awaited our palate, we took our first bite cautiously…

…and spring was here.

The sweet and refreshing strawberries balanced exquisitely with the spicy curry to fill the mouth with an incomprehensible ecstasy. And when we boldly put the entirety of the ice cream on the rice, spicy became sweet, hot became cool, and an insatiable pleasure blossomed from our taste buds. Surely you would be hard pressed to find another dish that allows customers to enjoy a variety of flavors and temperatures in their food at once!

By the end, however, we thought that perhaps we would have been better off without the ice cream as the sweetness became a little too strong, and it began to feel like we were eating an awkwardly salty, spicy desert rather than curry.

The shop owner confessed to us that over half the 950¥ ($11) price of this curry goes to cover the cost of the strawberries, and the dish doesn’t yield a profit at all.

“If possible, I don’t really want the Strawberry Curry to become that well-known. But whenever someone comes here to write about our restaurant, it always ends up being about this dish, you know? We have so many other good things on the menu, so we want people to know about those too. Still, we won’t stop serving it until the customers stop ordering it!”

■ Café Latino
Location: 1-12-10 Higashikomagata, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

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