Sometimes the most Japanese stuff isn’t even in Japan.

The distinction is often made between the curries of Japan and that of other countries in that Japanese curry is much more mild and sweet tasting than the original that it’s based on. And there is perhaps no restaurant that exemplifies “Japanese curry” better than CoCo Ichibanya.

The nationwide chain has now spread to 12 areas around the world, even daring to venture into the Indian market. Although we’re dying to see how it’s doing over there, let’s first warm up by looking at the very next best thing and follow our reporter Ikuna Kamezawa to a CoCo Ichibanya location in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thailand has its own rich curry culture, and it’s also famous as a country not afraid to partake in spicy foods. So how is CoCo Ichibanya’s own brand of herbs and spices marketed here?

Ikuna learned that “Omu Curry” (“Omelet Curry”), which is curry and a pile of rice wrapped in an omelet, seems to be the most popular dish. That stands to reason as it offers something a little different with a distinctly Japanese twist.

As for the prices, a standard fried cutlet curry dish costs 175 baht which works out to 677 yen (US$4.74). Although that’s a little steep by Thai standards, it’s considerably cheaper than the same item in Japan where it will run you 864 yen ($6.05).

But perhaps the most surprising thing was their selection of spaghetti dishes. That’s not to say there’s anything surprising about spaghetti, but to find it at CoCo Ichi is a bit of a shock. It’d be as if Domino’s Pizza in Japan started selling curry…or something else that didn’t actually happen.

Other than that there was a lot of the same stuff that you’d find in a Japanese CoCo Ichibanya, or so Ikuna thought…

Just as she was about to select a Seafood Omu Curry, something far more appetizing caught her eye. It was a limited-time item called Wagyu Beef Steak Curry!

At 385 baht ($10.25) it certainly did not come cheap by CoCo Ichibanya standards. For reference, the most expensive item to grace their grand menu in Japan has been their Handmade Breaded Tenderlion (Hirekatsu) Curry which costs 1,029 yen ($7.20) so factoring in the price gap between the two countries, that’d work out to nearly twice the amount.

Ikuna abandoned all previous plans and ordered the Wagyu Beef Steak Curry immediately. To give a sense of how strange this combination of luxury topping and restaurant chain is, it’d be as if McDonald’s sold Quarter Pounders with truffle sauce…or something else that didn’t actually happen.

And it’s with great delight that Ikuna reports this beef to be the real deal. It felt so tender she thought she could chew it without teeth. Quite frankly, even if she’d paid the Japanese price for this dish, it’d have still felt like a bargain.

The beef was so delectable that Ikuna has only one regret: She wished she didn’t have to eat it in a CoCo Ichibanya curry. That’s not to slag the chain’s curry, which is certainly tasty in its own right, but these two foods exist on different plains of existence and are probably better off staying there.

Still, it’s a pretty good opportunity for anyone in Thailand to get a taste of the Japanese high life at a decent price. And if you’re the type who can get Wagyu beef on the regular, eating it this way could be a fun and unique treat too. It’d be like eating 100-dollar seaweed with some microwaved rice…or something else that we haven’t already done.

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