The first time I had CoCo Ichibanya outside of Japan was in Korea. I never thought it would be as popular outside of the country but I realised there are more branches with different toppings and spice levels involved. Some of the branches I went to in Seoul were Hapjeong and Gangnam as they are spacious and quick. But there are over 30 branches in the country, the second biggest outside of Japan.
Korea is the only country outside of Japan that I have been to so far that has been to so far that has 10 levels and from 4-10, the build up on isn’t consistent. The good thing for people who don’t like meat in their curry roux is that it is not present as Korea does not have a pork or beef base.
Now the spice is amazing but I’m still convinced that gochujang or gochugaru (chilli powder) is added into their recipes as something seems really odd to the original taste. It’s as if the original spice from Japan and added gochujang in it. But I wouldn’t be surprised as when I worked there, I served YG and his staff members in Japan. His team ordered levels 6, 7 and 9 and had no troubles finishing at all.
Level 4-6 tasted more like Japan’s level 2-3 but once you get past 8, it jumps to a level 6 in Japan, I would say level 10 is perhaps a level 8. As the spice warms your throat then the rest of your body. If it gets too much, cheese is your friend if you’re not lactose intolerant and can deal with a lot of heavy foods together (the rice, cutlets and potatoes to name a few). You’ll definitely need something to handle the spice. And it’s definitely more than the Level 6 I had in Japan. I’d definitely recommend having a nap after eating Level 10.
Apart from the standard toppings, there is a few additions that Korea presents and it’s not all kimchi and cheese. Some new items I discovered there were the cheese in pork or chicken breast steak but everything else is similar to japan. I highly recommend prawn tempura, vegetable curry or fried chicken as of course, separate curries.
For starter spicy foodies, I would start at a level 6 or 7. But don’t be afraid to go higher!
It’s definitely top 4 after I revisited in September but Japan and Taiwan are still number 1 and 2. Despite the slight taste, the spice is a great challenge and the taste gradually builds up especially in your stomach. The sensation is amazing.
- CoCo Ichibanya Japan / Spice Rank 7
- CoCo Ichibanya Taiwan / Spice Rank 6
- CoCo Ichibanya Korea / Spice Rank 6
- CoCo Ichibanya UK / Spice Rank 4