This curry is so good it’ll weaken your senses.

Ever since discovering the wonders of Japanese curry chain Hinoya Curry through Reddit, our reporter Seiji Nakazawa has been eagerly seeking out branches to eat at whenever he has a hankering for a good curry.

According to Seiji, this chain serves up a quintessential Japanese curry that’s unrivalled, even by bigger chains like CoCo Ichibanya, and he would go so far as to say it’s his favourite curry restaurant in the country.

  ▼ Hinoya Curry.

So you can imagine his delight when, on a recent trip to a branch of Hinoya in Tokyo’s Shibuya, he spotted a laminated flyer on his table that told him he could buy retort curries made by Hinoya to take home with him.

He hadn’t seen any mention of this at the ticket vending machine where he’d ordered and paid for his meal before taking a seat, and he didn’t see it on the takeout menu either. Looking closer at the flyer, he saw there were three types of “regional retort curry” packs available, all priced at 990 yen (US$6.69) each. There was Togen Pork Curry (“Togen” is a brand of pork from the Southern Alps in Yamanashi Prefecture), Kuro Hanpen Curry (Kuro Hanpen is “Black Fishcake”), and Shizuoka Gatsu Curry (“Gatsu” is “Pork Stomach”)

▼ The flyer also read, “Please contact staff to purchase”, so that’s exactly what he did, handing over 990 yen for the Kuro Hanpen Curry.

Kuro Hanpen is a popular specialty in Shizuoka Prefecture and an essential ingredient in oden, another famous dish from Shizuoka. Seiji had never seen a curry containing hanpen before, so this was the one that most caught his eye, and when he got it home to try it, he saw that all the retort curry packs were produced in collaboration with the Sengoku Emaki (“Warring States Picture Scroll”) sticker series, Gekito Sengokuden (Fierce Fighting Legend of the Warring States).

This series of curries, and the tales of war that come with them, invite you to become the hero of the Curry Sengoku period, and Seiji was ready to go to battle with this curry, set on the battlefield in Shizuoka.

The black hanpen inside this pack comes from Tenjin-ya, an established store that’s been in business for 69 years and is the top seller of oden in Shizuoka. This esteemed purveyor gave the curry a legendary aura before even opening the pouch inside the box, but when he did finally heat the pouch and pour its contents onto a plate with rice, the aura grew stronger still.

There, covered in glistening curry roux and the dashi powder that came included in the pack, was a large serving of hanpen.

▼ Seiji’s reaction was one that could not be put into words and best captured in a photo instead.

Seiji’s face was one of awe and trepidation. He’d never seen anything like this in a curry before, and he could not imagine what this fishy foe would taste like. It looked both beautiful and terrifying, and once he bit into the hanpen, the taste of fish exploded in his mouth with all the intensity of a samurai warrior running into war.

While the fish was powerful, so too was the curry, displaying a richness that rivalled the fishcake. The roux was even richer than a regular in-store Hinoya curry, which Seiji figured was due to the ingredients having more time to sit together in the pouch.

Combined with the included dashi powder, the allied forces of umami in this curry attacked Seiji until he was left completely defenceless. Stunned by how good it was, Seiji surrendered, belly full and senses weak after the experience, declaring it to be the best curry in all of Japan.

▼ The sticker included in the pack was one of Hachiya Sadatsugu, a warlord who fought in the Battle of Azukizaka in 1564.

Seiji had once thought that the curry at Hinoya was the best in all Japan, but after this experience, he’s come to a new realisation — the best curry in Japan is Hinoya’s retort curry. Even we couldn’t quite believe how blown away he was by a retort curry, but given that Seiji is a curry connoisseur who loves the dish so much he’s even drunk it as a cider, we’ll take his word for it.

If you’d like to try the curry too, it can be purchased at Hinoya stores, online from the Gekisen store or at online marketplaces like Rakuten.

Images © SoraNews24
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