Mujirushi Ginza item would be expensive even for non-instant curry.

The secret to Mujirushi’s success is cost performance. The home furnishings/fashion/foodstuff chain isn’t the absolute cheapest place to do your shopping, nor is it the most luxurious, but across an amazingly wide variety of products, pretty much everything Mujirushi sells represents good quality at a good price.

For example, Mujirushi (also known as Muji) sells a whole bunch of different instant curry mixes, most of which are priced at 390 or 490 yen (US$2.60/$3.25). That’s one or two hundred yen more than most of the cheaper brands you’ll find at the supermarket, but the Mujirushi curries make up for it by being extra tasty.

But then there’s Mujirushi’s Grilled Beef Cheek Curry with Demi-Glace Sauce, which costs a whopping 1,000 yen!

The Grilled Beef Cheek Curry with Demi-Glace Sauce is sold exclusively at Mujirushi’s recently renovated flagship store in Tokyo’s Ginza district, which even has a special display for it in the curry corner of its food section.

Curious to see if this high-price curry sold in a high-rent neighborhood was worth the extra outlay, we picked up a pack for taste-testing. Mujirushi’s instant curries are boil-in-the-bag style, and once ours was ready we tore open the pouch and poured the contents onto a plate of white rice we’d dished up from our rice cooker.

Right off the bat, we were happy to see visible pieces of meat. Oftentimes with instant curry, you only get a few tiny morsels that are more like the suggestion of meat than actual meat itself, but here we had some honest-to-goodness strips of beef cheek.

More importantly, Mujirushi’s premium curry tastes great. The meat is very tender, with an almost gelatin-like texture that melts in your mouth. The roux has a deep richness, and there’s a noticeable sweetness to the onion that’s brought out as it stews in the curry.

OK, so it’s good, but is it 1,000-yen good? That’s a trickier question to answer. Like we mentioned above, Mujirushi has all sorts of curries for half that price or less. If you’re in the mood for the rich-tasting, Western-cuisine touch that the demi-glace and beef cheek impart, you won’t be disappointed, but depending on what exactly you’re craving, you might be just as pleased with one of Muji’s cheaper curries, especially since you could buy two packs of that alternative for the price of one Grilled Beef Cheek Curry with Demi-Glace Sauce.

The other thing to consider is that, if you’re in Japan and in at least a moderate-sized town, odds are you can find a restaurant serving plates of curry for 1,000 yen that include the rice (which the Grilled Beef Cheek Curry with Demi-Glace Sauce pack does not), and the restaurant will handle the cooking and cleanup for you too.

So on the one hand, we could say that the Grilled Beef Cheek Curry with Demi-Glace Sauce is worth the cost in that it’s a very tasty curry that you can make with minimal cooking skills. On the other hand, the overall-high level of curry quality in Japan means there’s a lot of very stiff competition, and even if you like the Grilled Beef Cheek Curry with Demi-Glace Sauce, you might not like it two or three times as much as less-expensive instant curries, or as much as a plate of curry rice from a restaurant.

Maybe the best way to sum it up is that the Grilled Beef Cheek Curry with Demi-Glace Sauce feels like it’s worth its price the first time you eat it, but whether or not that holds for repeat eatings is going to depend on individual tastes.

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