Curry Bondy
Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaBondy

6 best Japanese curry restaurants in Tokyo

Dig into a beef, chicken or katsu curry at one of these Tokyo restaurants dedicated to this Japanese comfort food

Youka Nagase
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Japanese curry has been a comfort food in Japanese households since it was first introduced in the Meiji era (1868-1912). More like a stew than a typical curry, it contains ingredients like meat (often beef, chicken or katsu), potatoes and carrots, but can be customised in different ways depending on your taste – and, importantly, your spice tolerance. 

While Japanese curry is easy to make, many restaurants have put their own spin on the dish by using a combination of spices, ingredients and condiments that make them stand out from the crowd. We’ve compiled the six best restaurants you should visit to get your curry fix in Tokyo.

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  • Yutenji
  • price 1 of 4

In line with the words ‘Tetsudo Mudo no Mise’ (or, ‘Shop with a Railway Feeling’) displayed above the entrance, the interior of this restaurant is jam-packed with railway-related memorabilia. Many of the items here date back to when the restaurant first opened in 1963, with a vast collection of destination and station name plates decorating the interior from wall to wall.

By the entrance, you’ll find a ticket vending machine where you’ll need to purchase a ‘train ticket’, which offers a number of items including curry, pasta and hashed beef rice. However, the curry (from ¥800) is the most popular dish and comes in different variations depending on the topping you want. Make sure you pay attention if you’re sitting at the passenger-car-style seats (from actual trains), because your meal will arrive via an entertaining model railway delivery system.

  • Jinbocho
  • price 2 of 4

Curry Bondy was the first winner of the Kanda Curry Grand Prix in 2011 and has been a local favourite since. Despite being hard to find on the second floor above a bookstore, this restaurant attracts hungry Tokyoites daily and always has queues during lunch hours. The menu offers a dozen curries, but first timers should go for the popular beef curry (¥1,600) featuring a deep brown roux made with a mixture of spices and fruits.

All curries come with cheese, kappa zuke pickles and umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum), with a side of rice and boiled potatoes. You can choose amakuchi (sweet), chukara (medium spicy) or karakuchi (spicy) depending on your preference, and even make it into a large portion for an additional  ¥150.

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  • Jinbocho

Kitchen Nankai is a familiar favourite on Tokyo's curry scene, specialising in this warming comfort food with a few riffs on the classics. If there’s a queue (likely at peak times), one of the chefs will come out and take your order while you stand in line. If you’re not sure what to order, simply point to the dish immortalised as a plastic replica in the window display. You pay at the same time and get a coloured plastic token which you give to your waitress once seated.

The most popular combo of rice, curry and tonkatsu costs a mere ¥700. You can help yourself to the red pickles known as fukujinzuke. Portions are large here; tables shared and cosy. Afterwards, walk off the calories with a stroll through Jinbocho’s sprawling book district.

  • Japanese
  • Tsukiji

Owner-chef Akida started the East Indian Curry Company for one very simple reason: he loves curry. And after tasting his blend of Japanese-, Indian- and European-style curries, you’ll love curry, too.

The house favourite is the tuna katsu curry (¥1,400), sporting large chunks of the meaty fish breaded and deep-fried, and served with rice and the restaurant’s signature curry sauce. The tuna is remarkably soft and tender, and the curry sauce, laced with onion, zucchini and potato, is a perfect balance between sweetness, spice and heat.

If you’d rather not combine fish and curry, go for the moreish pork belly curry for ¥1,100. Don’t forget to customise your meal at the condiment stand, with different types of salads and pickles on offer, such as cabbage, fukujinzuke (pickled vegetable relish) and homemade umeboshi (pickled Japanese plums).

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  • Kanda

Loup de Mer is a yoshoku (Japanese-style Western cuisine) restaurant that specialises in curry right in the heart of Tokyo’s curry paradise, Kanda. It’s tucked down an unassuming backstreet, just two minutes from Kanda Station.

The lunch menu is pretty straight forward, with four curry options that come with a side of soup from ¥1,200 to ¥1,300. You can choose the dry curry with omelette, chicken curry, pork curry or black beef wagyu curry, which is the house specialty. During dinner you can get extra dishes that come in larger portions, like the hamburg curry (¥1,700) and menchi katsu (ground meat cutlet) curry (¥1,700), as well as side dishes like pork char siu (¥900) and crab cream croquette (¥700).

  • Asakusa

Don’t be fooled by how this shop looks on the outside. This hole-in-the-wall curry eatery serves delicious Japanese-style curry using a recipe made by a chef who honed his skills at a famous restaurant in Ueno under the Imperial Household Agency. It’s named after a dog the owner adopted, which has brought good luck over the years and is now the logo of the shop. 

The curry at Pao Pao is made with 20 kinds of spices, vegetables and fruits that have been simmered and matured for around seven days, giving it the perfect nostalgic flavour of a quintessential Japanese curry. We recommend ordering the menchi katsu (ground meat cutlet) curry (¥890), which comes with a deep-fried menchi katsu that’s been made-to-order, served with a side of cut tomatoes. The flavour is pretty mild, but you can sprinkle on some free spicy powder to give it extra punch.

Eat your way through Tokyo

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