CoCo Ichibanya Japan Review

I know what you’re thinking: Why would I introduce a curry house as my first spicy food post? Don’t worry, take it from an insider that used to work at two branches in Tokyo that I know what I’m talking about. Introducing カレーハウスCoCo壱番屋 (Curry House CoCo Ichibanya) that takes the spice level up promising real pepper into your belly and actually lives up to that expectation of a burning fire in your throat.

To give you a short insight, CoCo opened it’s first restaurant in Nagoya, 1978. The first international branch was opened in Oahu, Hawaii and since then they have expanded to more than 10 other countries around Europe, Asia and America.

You see, what makes it really popular is how much you can customise it to your taste just like when you go to Subway to make your own sandwich. You can choose your own amount of rice, type of curry base, an endless amount of toppings and of course, how spicy you want your curry. The spice of the curry can easily put light and hope in Japanese curry – despite India’s clear influences.

Japanese curry is usually compared to being weaker in taste compared to Indian and Thai curries with the base of the meal just containing potatoes and vegetables. But CoCo壱 does not disappoint.

Levels go from 1 to 10 with level 10 being so spicy, the entire curry is all red. While working there in Tokyo, I’ve only seen maybe around five people eat and finish it cleanly (usually either Japanese, Nepalese or Indian people). The cheat is to order the most basic curry (Pork/Beef/Veg base curry around (¥600) with no toppings and normal base of rice. Bring a hand towel and keep relaxed. If that’s not enough, order a lassi or get cheese in your curry.
Speaking of cheese, it is an essential (if you are not lactose intolerant) as it brings a whole new taste to your spicy curry.

The curry taste is something I can never describe no matter how many times I go and eat there. Whatever they put in the curry is addictive. Just know that most Japanese people treat CoCo Ichibanya as we treat Nandos. But for foreigners and the people around me, it’s heaven. I’ve never been back to a place to crave a taste as much as I have with CoCo Ichibanya. For casual spice enthusiasts, I’d say start with level 3 or 4 if it’s summer/autumn. A level 5 or 6 if it’s winter/spring becase when it’s 5 degrees and under, it’s always better having curry more peppery to keep you warm.

If you want to order what people in Japan usually get, it’s usually a level 1 or 2 with a Katsu cutlet or vegetables. Japanese food does not really apply spice into their dishes as they accustom for more salty and saucy dishes.

So what would I personally recommend to you?

  • For vegetarians, the best options are 野菜 (vegetables with potatoes, carrots and green beans) and ほれんぞ (spinach).
  • Seafood lovers would be better adding エビ煮込み (Stewed shrimp), イカ (Squid), クリームコロッケ (Crab cream croquette) and エビカツ (Shrimp Katsu).
  • Meat eaters will enjoy フライドチキン (Fried chicken), パリパリチキン (Light crispy chicken), 手仕込とんかつ (Homemade Tonkatsu/Pork cutlet), とこトン三昧 (Triple pork), 豚しゃぶカレー (Thin-sliced pork), ロースカツ (Pork katsu), メンチカツ (Mince cutlet) ,チキン三昧 (Triple chicken).

Note: There is a vegetarian sauce that CoCo has for vegetarians. If you pick up the vegetarian menu and point to what you want . If not tell them  ベジソース or ベジカゲ (Veggie Sosu or Veggie Kage – Vegetarian Sauce) [topping 1+, rice and spice level]. If they bring it to you on a big white plate without the logo, that’s the right sauce.

Expect more #cocoworldtour posts from now on because since I left Japan, I have also tried it out in Korea, Taiwan and now London. I wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t on this blog. Just try it once and trust me, the spicier, the better the CoCo experience.

Ranking List

  1.  CoCo Ichibanya Japan #cocoworldtour / Rank 7
Level 6 and higher guarantees the spicy experience in a curry you’ll want.