Seriously, who’s in charge of this place and why haven’t they expanded to the rest of Japan?!

Maybe it’s because they spend so much time writing about food, but our writers know the secret to finding good food when they travel. The first thing they do is check out a convenience store to see if they sell any local specialties. Then they find out if there are any local chain restaurants. Those are the best ways to find out what kind of food is a specialty in that area.

That’s why our Japanese-language reporter Haruka Takagi checked out Curry Shop Indian while she was visiting Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. Haruka, a curry fan, was excited to try a curry shop she’d never been to before, and based on the name, she assumed she’d be served up some very spicy Indian-style curry.

▼ Curry Shop Indian has twelve branches, but they can only be found in Hokkaido.

The branch Haruka visited was known as the “Nishi 18-jo branch” in the central Hokkaido city of Obihiro. Located in the Piazza Fukuhara shopping center along National Highway 38, it’s in a pretty convenient spot.

Haruka’s first impression was that she’d somehow seen this shop before. The logo in particular seemed familiar, but Haruka couldn’t figure out why. At least, not until she remembered visiting a restaurant in Osaka called Indian Curry, which had a similar logo.

Haruka was curious to find out whether they were connected at all, so she called the parent company that manages Hokkaido’s Curry Shop Indian restaurants, Fujimori Shokai. Apparently, they have no relation whatsoever; they just somehow managed to use a very similar logo and go with similarly simplistic names.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Curry Shop Indian (the Hokkaido version) has three kinds of curry roux: Indian, a mild roux made from beef and ten kinds of spices; Basic, a simple curry made from beef extract and onions; and Vegetable, a curry filled with potatoes, carrots, and onions.

All three were the same price, coming out to 528 yen (US$3.78) for dine-in, 518 yen for carry-out, and 410 yen to carry out the curry without the rice. Like CoCo Ichibanya and other nationwide curry restaurants, you can also select additional toppings, including fried pork cutlets, hamburg steak, shrimp, chicken, and cheese.

▼ Apparently, you can only get eggs (110 yen each) as a topping at the Nishi 18-jo branch.

What surprised Haruka was that the restaurant was really enthusiastic about offering takeout. You have to pay 66 yen for the container unless…

▼ “Please bring your own pot. We highly encourage this.”

You bring your own pot!

According to the menu, pamphlets, and website, Curry Shop Indian really values eco-friendliness, which is why they highly encourage people to bring their own containers from home when ordering Indian’s curry for takeout. In truth, CoCo Ichibanya and other restaurants also offer this service, but Haruka feels like no other restaurant was quite as enthusiastic about the idea as Curry Shop Indian. Apparently, this is a service used by a lot of customers, who bring their own pots to take home curry in.

Haruka didn’t have a pot to bring, so she ordered a dine-in Indian Curry with Chicken. The chicken topping came out to 198 yen, making her total for the meal 726 yen.

At first glance, this curry really didn’t seem like anything special. It didn’t smell especially flavorful, and there was no sign of the promised 10 spices. Haruka felt somewhat disappointed, fearing that the curry wasn’t anything to write home about, but as soon as she took a bite, her opinion completely changed.

“W-wow…It’s really good!!!”

The curry roux was thick, rich, and sweet, and felt like the curry of olden days. It was similar to a curry you might make at home, but it was far richer and had way more umami than anything Haruka could cook.

Haruka is the type who prefers to mix her curry roux with her rice before eating it, but the curry here was so thick that she thought she would only be able to eat about half of it. But that wasn’t the case at all; it wasn’t too salty or too rich. How did they get it to taste like this?

The large pieces of chicken added to the curry were really good, too, and Haruka was delighted to find little bits of beef in the mix as well.

About halfway through she added some spicy oil to change up the flavor a little bit, and this made it gradually spicier, which in itself was also delicious.

The more Haruka ate, the more she realized: no one in Japan could possibly hate this curry. From the first bite to the last, it was highly satisfying. Haruka can confidently recommend it to anyone.

While it wasn’t the super spicy curry Haruka had expected from the restaurant’s name, that wasn’t a problem in the end because it was a delicious curry all on its own. The next time Haruka finds herself close to a Curry Shop Indian, she will definitely be trying the basic and the vegetable curry as well.

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