Joto Curry comes from Osaka to Tokyo, and then to our stomach.

Tokyo has an amazingly dense distribution of restaurants. Step out of any moderately sized train or subway station, and you’re likely to have dozens of dining options within a five-minute walk

Having so many options can actually make it harder to pick just one, though. So when he needs to narrow things down, our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa has been scanning English-language Tokyo restaurant discussions on Reddit, to see if there’s anything the traveling and expat foodies have been talking about but he’s missed.

Recently Seiji was feeling both a rumbling in his stomach and a craving for curry, which were just the conditions necessary for him to try the latest on his list of hot-topic-on-Reddit-among-foreigners restaurants: Joto Curry.

Joto Curry is actually a chain based in Osaka, but with five branches in Tokyo. Seiji, otaku that he is, has actually walked past the Joto Curry in Akihabara multiple times, but he’s never stepped inside to try it out, partially because of the name. See, the “Joto” part of the chain’s name means “high-class” or “premium,” so Seiji had always just sort of assumed that Joto Curry is an expensive place to eat. Looking at the signboard outside Joto Curry’s branch near Shibuya Station, though, Seiji was surprised to learn that its prices aren’t at all unreasonable for curry rice. The standard curry rice plate costs 740 yen (US$5.35) and the most expensive item on the menu, curry rice with sukiyaki-style beef and spinach, is just 1,290 yen.

Even Joto Curry’s tonkatsu (pork cutlet) curry rice, the dish many curry fans consider to be the pinnacle of the curry rice dining experience, squeezes in under 1,000 yen, at 990. It’s also the most popular item on the chain’s menu, so that’s what Seiji ordered.

Rather than placing the cutlet off to one side and covering only half the plate with roux, Joto Curry puts its tonkatsu right in the center and pours curry over everything. This let Seiji get to the taste-testing immediately…

…which in turn put instantly put a smile on his face. The roux has a creamy, melty texture, neither too watery nor too thick. When you pop a spoonful into your mouth, the first sensation you get is sweetness, which then progresses to spiciness as you swallow.

While it doesn’t have the fiery heat of a Thai or Indian curry, Joto Curry is decidedly on the spicy side for mainstream Japanese curry, but not so much that the spice drowns out the other flavors in the roux. It’s unmistakably restaurant quality, but there’s also something about the strong flavors and filling consistency of that also reminds Seiji of a home-cooked meal.

Maybe it’s that mix of restaurant-made and home-cooked qualities that makes Joto Curry special. Curry is, after all, a great comfort food, and so any plate of curry rice that can give you a home-away-from-home feeling is definitely worth eating for both travelers and locals alike.

Restaurant information
Joto Curry (Shibuya branch) / 上等カレー(渋谷店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibua-ku, Shibuya 3-18-7
Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Monday-Friday), 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (weekends, holidays)

Related: Joto Curry location list
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