The curry chain that’s all about giving you exactly the kind of curry you want expands its no-animal-product lineup.

Coco Ichibanya is Japan’s most popular curry restaurant chain, and it deserves to be. Not just because it’s delicious and affordable, but because of its amazingly flexible meal options.

See, the menu at Coco Ichi (as it’s called by fans) is really more of a road map for you to plot your own path to custom curry greatness with, letting you freely select how much rice and roux you want, the level of spice, and which of dozens of different toppings you want (and yes, “all of them” is an option).

Coco Ichi is currently expanding those options even further with a new type of soup curry, but the really unique things is that this new curry is vegan.

The Coco Ichi Vegetable Soup Curry uses no animal products whatsoever. That goes for not only the toppings, but the roux itself, which is free of the beef and pork that go into the restaurant’s other curry bases.

The curry and toppings are served in a separate bowl from the rice, and you get a huge variety of vegetables: potatoes, cabbage, carrots, okra, eggplant, kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), lotus root, cauliflower, red bell pepper. They’re chopped into large chunks to give the meal a substantial, satisfying meal, and Coco Ichi’s chefs have also whipped up a special topping just for the Vegetable Soup Curry, in the form of delicious tofu corn nuggets, which taste great when slathered in curry.

As for the roux, Japanese-style soup curry tends to be a little thinner and spicier than regular Japanese curry, and that’s also the case here. Underneath the spice, though, you can still taste the deep, rich sweet notes that are Coco Ichi’s beloved calling card.

Priced at 966 yen (US$8.95) and with a 795 calorie count (when paired with the standard 200 grams [7.1 ounces] of rice), he Vegetable Soup Curry won’t do much damage to your wallet or waistline, while keeping your taste buds and stomach happy. It’s currently a limited-time-only item, scheduled to be offered until February, but if enough people order it, we can always keep our fingers crossed that Coco Ichi will make it a permanent part of the menu.

Top image: Coco Ichibanya
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[ Read in Japanese ]