CoCo Ichibanya isn’t the only curry chain you can visit in Japan.

Recently, our reporter Seiji Nakazawa has been checking out Tokyo restaurant recommendations from foreigners on Reddit, leading him to discover some unusual dining spots he’d never even heard of before.

His latest poke around Reddit unearthed another surprising recommendation, so he immediately headed out to try it, hopping on a train to taste Japanese curry at the chain that had received sterling reviews:

  ▼ Hinoya Curry.

When it comes to Japanese curry chains, CoCo Ichibanya, or “CoCo Ichi”, is usually the name that comes to everyone’s lips, as it’s not only famous throughout Japan but overseas, where it has branches set up as well. Seiji was surprised to see so many foreigners on Reddit singing the praises of Hinoya instead, but when he arrived at the branch in front of Okachimachi station, he immediately saw the first thing it had going for it — the prices were cheaper.

▼ The katsu curry, for example, was 880 yen (US$6.19), compared to 917 yen at CoCo Ichi.

Stepping inside the store, Seiji felt it had a similar vibe to CoCo Ichi or Matsuya (a popular Japanese rice bowl chain that also serves curry), and its bar-stool seating gave him the impression that this was a place where you could grab a quick bite to eat before heading out again.

To order, simply purchase the meal you want from the ticket machine at the entrance and once it’s ready, your ticket number will be displayed on a screen in front of the kitchen, indicating it’s ready for you to pick up from the counter.

▼ Seiji ordered the “Dodeka! Katsu Curry” (“Huge Cutlet Curry“) for 980 yen.

When you go to pick up your food, you’ll find things like cutlery and seasonings and pickles, which you can add to your meal.

According to what he’d read on Reddit, fans had heaped praise on Hinoya’s curry with comments like: “It’s different from CoCo Ichi but it’s really good” and “It contains everything I want in a curry”, so Seiji was very keen to see if the reviews were correct.

▼ It certainly looked delicious, but how would it taste?

The curry roux was undoubtedly delicious — sweet on the palate, but followed by a tangy spiciness that gave it a wonderful depth of flavour and made it super easy to eat. If he had to compare it to anything, Seiji would liken it to a House brand Vermont curry, as it had something of a homemade curry taste to it, which nourished not only his belly but also his heart.

Unlike a chain like Matsuya, whose curry tastes a bit store-made to Seiji, the Hinoya curry conjured up memories of home-cooked meals that made him feel nostalgic for his childhood, prompting him to describe it as a real Japanese curry roux.

▼ For Seiji, this is an authentic Japanese curry.

If he had to complain about something, it’d be that the rice was a little dry. In that regard, Matsuya takes the edge on Hinoya, but in terms of curry roux, he’d have to give the win to Hinoya, saying it’s even better than CoCo Ichi, although you can’t beat CoCo Ichi for its curry toppings.

As of July 2023, there are 34 Hinoya stores in Tokyo, with more nationwide, and the chain has expanded overseas with locations in Bangkok and San Francisco. Seiji had no idea the chain had so many locations, but now he does, he’ll definitely be sure to seek them out during his travels.

Store information
Hinoya Curry Okachimachi store / 日乃屋カレー御徒町店
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Ueno 5-27-1
Open:11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Closed: Year-end and New Year holiday period

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