Curry House CoCo Ichibanya World offers dishes and roux “reverse imported” from the chain’s overseas branches.

In Japan, curry is comfort food. Sitting down with a plate of rice, half-covered in roux with a hearty yet balanced mix of spicy, savory and sweet notes, and accompanied by time-tested toppings like potatoes, carrots, and onions is like seeing an old friend…an old friend who’s come to visit your stomach and provide you with nourishment.

But one of Japan’s favorite curry restaurant chains, CoCo Ichibanya, is looking to venture away from that familiarity with the opening of a new branch in Tokyo’s Kyobashi neighborhood on October 11 that specializes in Japanese curry from outside Japan.

Curry House CoCo Ichibanya World is in part a celebration of CoCo Ichi (as the chain is called by fans) opening its 200th overseas branch earlier this year. Just like how foreign food/beverage brands adjusting their products to appeal to local tastes when they come to Japan (like with Coca-Cola Japan’s Bleach Coke), CoCo Ichi does the same when it arrives in a new country, and the concept for Curry House CoCo Ichibanya World is to be a restaurant that will “reverse import” these adapted Japanese curry rice recipes back into Japan for Japanese diners to enjoy.

For example, Curry House CoCo Ichibanya World will be the first place in Japan where customers can order the Mac and Cheese Rice Omelet Curry

…and the Four Types of Mushrooms Cream Rice Omelet Curry.

Rice Omelet Curry, or “Omu Curry,” actually plays a starring role in many of the reverse-imported recipes. Though it’s passed over by many customers at in-Japan branches, according to CoCo Ichi the Rice Omelet Curry variant became the chain’s first hit in many overseas markets, especially in countries where Japanese-style curry rice wasn’t something that was already on local foodies’ radars, resulting in several unique Omu Curry toppings that debuted overseas, like the Tomato and Clams Rice Omelet Curry.

There are also some reverse-imported non-omelet curry rice offerings too, like the Mapo Tofu and Eggplant Curry Rice.

Diners in a less adventurous mood can also opt for curry rice with traditional Japanese toppings. However, even this will taste different from how it does at other Japanese branches, because Curry House CoCo Ichibanya World uses a different roux. Ordinarily, customers at CoCo Ichi in Japan choose between either a pork or beef-based curry roux. For its overseas branches, though, the chain often uses an entirely plant-based roux, prepared at their facility in Saga Prefecture and shipped to CoCo Ichi restaurants around the world. In keeping with its internationalized concept, this plant-based roux is the one Curry House CoCo Ichibanya World will use.

The new branch will look different from what Japanese customers are used to as well. Many Japanese CoCo Ichi branches are little more than a counter with stools lined up in front of an open kitchen, but Curry House CoCo Ichibanya World is trying for a more stylish approach. It might not qualify as fully fancy, but it has the ambiance of a nice cafe to relax in, as opposed to a place to fill yourself up with curry and leave right after finishing your last spoonful.

Given curry’s comfort food status in Japan, it’s a bit of a gamble on CoCo Ichi to shake things up like this, and the prices for Curry House CoCo Ichibanya World’s reverse-imported dishes are a bit on the high side (the Mac and Cheese Rice Omelet Curry, for example, is 1,150 yen [US$8], compared to the 864 yen the chain charges for its all-star Pork Cutler Curry Rice). On the other hand, curry itself made its way to Japan from India via Great Britain, so it’s not unthinkable for it to become delicious in new wats as it crosses international borders.

Restaurant information
Curry House CoCo Ichibanya World
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Kyobashi 2-2-1, Kyobashi Edo Grand basement level 1
東京都中央区京橋二丁目2番1号 京橋エドグランB1
Open 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Source, images: PR Times via IT Media
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