Matsuya is branching out beyond typical Japanese curries, and we couldn’t be happier!

While Japan’s own sweet, mild curry is making a splash on distant shores, one of the country’s homegrown restaurant chains, Matsuya, is taking a leaf from various other countries’ curry cookbooks. Though Matsuya serves a perfectly adequate spicy curry of its own– the Gorogoro Chicken Curry — it’s a seasonal item and is cycled out frequently like most of Matsuya’s ever-evolving menu.

There’s a spicy, delicious light on the horizon, though. Matsuya has turned to Thailand for inspiration for their latest addition to the roster, with a new Massaman curry option being tested at a limited number of their stores. A regular serving costs 730 yen (US$7.05), a pricey option when contrasted with the 490 yen standard Japanese curry. The banner promoting the curry does bill it as “allegedly the most delicious food in the world”, though, so it seems like a reasonable price in that context.

While the true origins of Massaman are still hotly debated, as it’s argued that the dish contains considerable Indian and Malay influence, it’s commonly associated with Thai cuisine. The name “Massaman” itself is a corruption of the word musulman, an old Persian word for “Muslim”. Due to its Islamic origins, the dish is most commonly cooked with chicken as the main meat, but variations with beef or goat meat are popular too.

Our Japanese-language reporter, Tasuku Egawa, headed to one chain that was serving the curry and promptly placed an order.

▼ Matsuya’s version uses chicken.

It arrived promptly, on one of Matsuya’s typical lacquered trays. His curry was, naturally, accompanied by a healthy serving of white rice.

Tasuku observed that it looked very much like butter chicken curry, with a rich orange roux.

▼ Hearty chunks of chicken meat and potato abound.

Tasuku’s first step was to ascertain the quality of the curry itself, so he took a little sip of a spoonful of roux.

It tasted incredible! Tasuku’s mouth was inundated with vibrant, unfamiliar spices. This was truly a curry like none other that he had ever experienced before, and definitely not inside the cheap and cheerful walls of a Matsuya!

And spices here specifically refers not just to chili peppers, the most typical harbingers of heat, but spices as in varied, lively flavorings that light up the palate and compel the senses. The bay leaf in particular took a center stage in this powerful wave of taste. The Massaman curry is a relatively mild one; not so mild as butter chicken, but certainly milder than the typical beef curry that Matsuya sells.

Tasuku compared the spice of the Massaman curry to a rapier stab — a sudden flash of heat that dramatically and rapidly recedes. The spices are so varied and complex that it’s hard to narrow them down to one particular profile, and it makes for an enjoyable meal down to the last bite.

The Massaman curry offers a perfect middle ground between the mild, inoffensive butter chicken curry and the roiling spices of the Gorogoro chicken curry. Tasuku was previously a devout Gorogoro enthusiast, but just one order has converted him thoroughly to extolling the virtues of Massaman curry. If you live near a Matsuya that’s participating in the Massaman curry trial, have a taste yourself and see how it stacks up to other curry powerhouses in the nation!

Images © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!