There’s a lot of great curry inside this machine, but one in particular is really something special.

Japan’s awesome vending machines have long been one of our favorite things about the country, but recently they’ve really been on a roll. Our recent visits to Sriracha and blind-buy whiskey vending machines already had us falling in love with mechanized commerce all over again, and then we found a vending machine selling all sorts of different types of instant curry!

We came across this wondrous machine by accident when we tried going to Curryland, a curry specialty shop in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood. Unfortunately, we rolled up on a Tuesday, which turns out to be the store’s regular day off. Shortly before our eyes filled with tears at the prospect of going home empty-handed, though, we spotted the curry vending machine just outside the entrance.

Taking a look inside, our eyes were greeted by a huge variety of regional curries incorporating local ingredients from Hokkaido, Hiroshima, Yamanashi, and several other prefectures.

We narrowed our options down to three types, and unable to pick just one, bought all of them to take back to SoraNews24 headquarters and taste test. All of them come in vacuum-sealed pouches, and before eating them you either boil the unopened pouch in a pot of water or pour the contents into a dish and heat them up in the microwave.

Staring off with the least expensive of the bunch, we’ve got the 470-yen (US$4.50) Hokkaido White Seafood Curry (which you can boil for 3-5 minutes or heat for 90 seconds in a 600-watt microwave).

Hokkaido shellfish is especially prized, and as soon as we opened the pouch there was an enticing marine aroma from the curry’s scallops. There’s also squid, and the seafood combo goes great with the curry roux’s sweet notes, though there’s still a proper spiciness.

Next up is our representative from Yamanashi Prefecture, the Peach Orchard Peach Curry (650 yen, five minutes boiling time, no microwave directions provided). This one seemed like a definite oddball, since we’d never heard of using peaches for curry. We wondered if maybe there was just some peach nectar or extract mixed into the roux…

…but nope, there were actual peach slices!

Surprisingly, though, the combination works really well. The roux here has tomato puree in it, and the flavor of the peaches ends up feeling more tangy than sweet. The texture of the peaches can take a little getting used to, since they’re quite unlike the meats and vegetables usually used in curry, but overall this is also a great-tasting meal.

Finally, we come to the Curryland Kuroge Wagyu Cream Cheese Curry (780 yen, 3-5 minutes boiling, 90 seconds at 600 watts microwave). As the name implies, this is Curryland’s own original curry, and the marque ingredient of Kuroge Wagyu, one of Japan’s finest varieties of domestic beef, helps justify the high price.

Honestly, we wouldn’t have been disappointed with a few bigger pieces of beef. But how does it taste? For that, let’s check the notes from our taste tester, Japanese-language SoraNews24 reporter Seiji Nakazawa, who says…

“This is, by far, the best-tasting curry I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m not talking about just instant curries either; that includes curry I’ve eaten at restaurants and for home-cooked meals.”

So what makes this so great? According to Seiji, the cream cheese has no discernable effect o the taste, and the star is the incredibly deep beef flavor of the roux. “It’s like you have 20 cows’ worth of beef flavor in one plate of curry,” he says.

With Curryland’s original curry available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from its curry vending machine, the next time we look around the office and see Seiji absent from his desk, we can probably safely assume that he’s run off to Asakusa to pick up another pack. And if you want to try it for yourself but can’t swing a trip to Tokyo, the Curryland curry can also be purchased through the Curryland online shop here.

Vending machine information
Located next to Curryland / カレーランド
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Nishi Asakusa 2-24-7

Related: Curryland online shop
Photos ©SoraNews24
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