An unlikely place to get a curry bread, let alone a prize-winning one. 

On 17 July, the Japan Curry Bread Association announced this year’s Curry Bread Grand Prix award winners, acknowledging the work of a number of restaurants and vendors across the country. As our curry-loving reporter Mr Sato browsed through the results, one thing struck him as odd — one of the winners of the Showa Award, a sponsor’s award, went to a restaurant called Ningyocho Imahan, which is famous for…sukiyaki.

▼ Ningyocho Imahan’s curry bread, circled in red below.

Sukiyaki is a beef hotpot dish, and Ningyocho Imahan is one of the best places in Tokyo to try it. However, the fact that they did curry bread was news to Mr Sato, so he took himself over to the restaurant to try it.

If you’re looking to visit the store, be aware that there’s another famous Imahan — “Asakusa Imahan” — in Tokyo, but that’s a different establishment. If you want the award-winning curry bread, you’ll want to go to Ningyocho Imahan, which is split up across two adjacent street corners.

▼ On one corner is the restaurant…

▼ …and on the other corner is the butcher shop and side dishes store.

▼ This Google Streetview shows the setup.

The curry breads are sold at the butcher, so that’s where Mr Sato went, and when he was there he saw a realllllly little poster advertising them.

▼ Curry bread is known as “カレーパン” (“karepan”) in Japan.

Looking closer at the sign, Mr Sato smiled at the filling/feeling pun, and the fact that it said it was “No 1. addictive“, containing a carefully made filling that includes Kuroge Wagyu beef.

All those claims to fame certainly suggest this is a prize-worthy karepan, but the only way to know for sure would be to try it.

So he purchased one for 378 yen (US$2.60) and took it home for a taste test.

On the way home, he did a little more research and found out that this curry bread can also be purchased at Ningyocho Imahan’s Tamagawa Takashimaya store, the Suitengu Ekimae store, the Yokohama Takashimaya store, and the Chiba Sogo store, so there are a few other places for people outside of Ningyocho to try it.

Pulling the bread out of the bag, Mr Sato felt that this was the real deal. It looked like any other curry bread, but it felt delightfully plump in his hand.

Slicing it in two for a proper inspection, it looked like a lot of other curry breads, but the truth would be in the tasting.

Taking a bite, the first thing he noticed was the texture of the bread. About an hour had passed from the time he bought it to the time he brought it home, but even after that time, the dough still looked plump. This was an indication that a good oil had been used, as it hadn’t seeped through the exterior, and there was no oily smell or residue, resulting in a very light texture.

The curry itself was surprisingly fruity and there was less meat in there than Mr Sato had hoped for. However, it was still rich and full-bodied, with a strong umami flavour, and the crunchy texture was addictive. It was much lighter to eat than it looks, so much so that he felt as if he’d be able to eat two or three of them in one sitting.

It was a very good karepan, sitting firmly on the side of the best he’s eaten in Tokyo. It just goes to show that if you’re especially good at one thing, like making sukiyaki, you can also excel at other dishes, like curry bread. After all, last year’s grand prize winner specialised in dorayakai sweets!

Store information

Ningyocho Imahan Sozai Honten / 人形町今半惣菜本店
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ningyocho, Nihonbashi 2-10-3
東京都板橋区上板橋 2-34-12
Open 10:00 a.m.-7 p.m.

Related: Curry Bread Grand Prix 2023
All images © SoraNews24

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