For when the hot, steamy action you’re craving is of the curry variety.

Walking around cities in Japan, you might sometimes spot a storefront with a sign plastered with the kanji 無料案内所, which means “free guidance center.” However, these aren’t tourist information centers ready to help direct you to the nearest museum, historical building, or other cultural attraction. Instead, they’re filled with fliers and directories for hostess bars, host clubs, and other sorts of adult entertainment establishments.

But our ace reporter Mr. Sato was surprised to stumble across a free guidance center in Tokyo that’s not just for people with a hunger for titillation, but also for people who’re just hungry for lunch.

Located a short walk from the south gate of Tokyo’s Kinshico Station, the Waku Waku Info free guidance center had a menu board outside its entrance offering curry when Mr. Sato walked by. He was intrigued, but also felt a little apprehensive, since to any passersby who didn’t notice the menu, it’d look like he was out cruising for some sexy fun in the middle of the afternoon.

Still, he was hungry, and if he could overcome the recent awkwardness of looking like he’d stolen a microwave he legitimately paid for, he could do this too. So before he lost his nerve, he strode inside Waku Waku Info.

The interior had a counter on one side where staff would keep the information on local clubs, and lined up against the opposite wall were tables and chairs where customers could sit and leaf through their options, but also behind the counter were a few stovetops and pots of cooking curry, presided over by a single non-Japanese cook.

Waku Waku Curry, as the establishment calls itself when it’s serving food, has a simple menu, with just two options. One is Mr. Iwaki’s Pork Curry, and the other is Akkil’s Family Recipe Chicken Curry. However, Mr. Sato had no idea who either of those people are.

Helpfully, though, the photos for Mr. Iwaki’s Pork Curry and Akkil’s Family Recipe Chicken Curry were respectively accompanied by a Japanese and Indian flag, giving some more recognizable information about what they probably taste like. Mr. Sato decided to opt for the 770-yen (US$7) Mr. Iwaki’s Pork Curry, and add a side salad for another 160 yen. “Sorry, no salad right now,” the cook informed him, though, so instead he opted for a bowl of soup, for the same price.

This turned out to be a more dramatic choice than he’d expected. Taking a sip seared his tongue with spiciness and caused a sheet of sweat to start running down his face, and he decided to hold off on trying to consume any more of it until after he’d had his curry.

As weird as the idea of eating lunch in a free guidance center is, the Mr. Iwaki’s Pork Curry looks surprisingly orthodox, and the first mouthful confirmed that the flavor is classic Japanese curry. The menu lists it as “medium spicy,” and while Mr. Sato wouldn’t call it mild, it didn’t sear his soul with spice like the soup had.

Chewing his second mouthful, Mr. Sato had a vague sense of warm and happy memories, and as he continued to eat, it became clear why. This unassuming yet tasty curry is remarkably close in flavor to the curry Mr. Sato’s mom used to make for him and his brother when they were little kids growing up in Shimane Prefecture.

▼ “Man, I should really give my mom a call,” thought Mr. Sato, right before thinking “…it’s weird that I’m thinking about my mom inside an adult entertainment guidance center…”

As he polished off the last of his Mr. Iwaki’s Pork Curry, Mr. Sato got a pleasant surprise when the cook set a small dish of Akkil’s Family Recipe Chicken Curry before him, saying “On the house.”

Never one to turn down free food, especially free curry, Mr. Sato turned his spoon to the complimentary curry, and this one was back to the furious spice level of the soup, instantly flushing his face in red from the fiery flavor. Yes, it tasted good, but you’ll definitely want a lot of rice to help soak up the heat.

So why is a free guidance center serving curry? Primarily because the majority of the people looking for adult entertainment are looking for it after sundown, so during the afternoon, Waku Waku Info’s floor space was going unused. So they decided to start serving curry from 11 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon on weekdays, since the building itself is pretty much a fixed cost. The extra line of revenue has also been helpful during the pandemic, when fewer people are going to hostess bars and host clubs because of social distancing.

So in the end, Mr. Sato was glad he worked up the nerve to go in. If you’re feeling self-conscious, though, Waku Waku Curry also offers meals to go and you can always wait outside while yours is being prepared.

Restaurant information
Waku Waku Curry / ワクワクカレー
Address: Tokyo-to, Sumida-ku, Kotobashi 2-17-2
Open 11 a.m,-2:30 p.m.
Closed Saturdays, Sundays

Photos ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]