Curry has been around in Japan since the early Meiji period, when the English brought it over from India, and nowadays you can find it served everywhere from schools and homes to more restaurants than you can count. These restaurants may deal in Indian curry, Thai curry, or Japanese curry (along with many others), but Kunkare serves something a bit more out of the ordinary: smoked curry. While most people make curry from a pan-fried roux of flour and butter, the chefs at Kunkare decided to smoke their roux instead. This unique smoked curry (which they claim is the only one of its kind in the world, by the way) has had people lining up at their Ningyocho location ever since they opened in 2011. We got word that they will open their second branch in Okubo later this year, so we decided to try them out.
Though ‘smoked curry’ may sound like a gimmick, the taste is like no other — the second the curry hits your tongue you’ll never want to go back to Coco Ichiban. The curry is made to order, and you can choose your own level of spiciness, the level of smokiness, and toppings. Their toppings range from proteins like simmered beef tendon (¥300) and hard-boiled egg (¥100) to a smoked menu, with smoked bacon (¥200), smoked vegetables (¥270), and smoked cheese (¥100). However, if you’re going to make your way over here, you might as well go all out and order the ‘full English' of smoked curry: the kunsei zenbu nose. For ¥300 (¥600 for a double size and ¥160 for a half size), they'll give you a sampling of each of the smoked toppings on your curry.
Feel like having something fried in your curry? Available only at the Okubo branch is a range of golden crispy goodies like smoked karaage, or fried chicken dipped in smoked salt (five pieces for ¥580), as well as the special katsu curry (¥1,130), a curry with a similarly prepared slab of fried pork placed on top. They also have karaage or tonkatsu as curry toppings (¥300 and ¥450 respectively). Also only available at the Okubo location is the Kunkare salad, with smoked bacon and egg, tossed in their own smoked olive oil-based house dressing (¥680).
Though Kunkare brands itself as a smoked curry joint, it's much more than that — not only is the roux smoked, but the toppings and the fried items are as well. Hell, even the mayonnaise and dressings are smoked!
Sure you could come here with a friend for lunch or dinner, but they also have plenty of counter seats for one, so you can get in and out before you start smelling like smoke yourself.
More information, including the address, can be found here.