The quiet neighbourhood of Jinbocho is best known for its book town, a veritable heaven for anyone interested in old tomes and a unique atmosphere virtually untouched by time. The number two attraction here, however, is curry, with small eateries lining the streets wherever you look. Finding the right spots at this site of the yearly Kanda Curry Grand Prix is a challenge in itself, so we have taken the liberty to recommend 15 quality curry houses in the area. Be it the standard Japanese version or a spicy Indian variety, we've got 'em all. And if you're looking for even more fiery fare, try our guide to the best extra-spicy curry in Tokyo.
Established in 1924, Kyoeido's got history and experience on its side. People queue up both at lunch and dinner for their thick and spicy but surprisingly light 'Sumatran' curry, which comes in pork, beef, and chicken varieties. The creations here are not overly hot and spicy, but still pack enough of a punch to properly entertain your taste buds.
The attraction here is the chicken curry. Containing two whole potatoes, and generous portions of chunky chicken, it's made with a smooth roux that perfectly complements the rice. The richness of the meat is tempered by the gentle flavour of the vegetables, and the addition of fruits like apples and mangoes also gives the dish a hint of sweetness. Sure, it's spicy, but so addictive too.
Serving both Indian and Thai versions of curry, Bambi even combines these two worlds with the 'Country Curry', a spicy and vegetable-packed dish flavoured with baimakrut leaf. The basic pork curry, with its sizeable meat pieces, is also worth a shot.
Winner of the 2012 Kanda Curry Grand Prix, this stylish eatery boasts some of the best keema and chicken curry in the area. We have to recommend the 'Chicken Butter Masala' version, a tomato-based dish with just the right balance of sweet and sour.
Their curry is often described as 'European', but don't let the strange labelling fool you – this is definitely one of the top shops in Jinbocho. Using over 30 kinds of ingredients, their curries can be adjusted for spiciness on a scale from one to six. Try the seafood curry with cheese, a strange-sounding combo that actually does much better than expected.
This small eatery gets its name from the Ethiopian coffee that was once sold on the premises. The current menu is far less exotic, consisting mainly of curries, all served with a boiled potato and butter. The veggie-based servings are probably what they do best, as the taste isn't overly heavy or dry.
One of the top Singapore-style eateries in town, Makan serves up great Malay-style coconut curries with chicken. The atmosphere is very casual, making this restaurant a popular stopover throughout the day.
Unfazed by the furious competition between curry shops in Jinbocho, this old-timer almost always fills up for lunch. The place itself may be a bit difficult to find, but the generously sized and gently flavoured curries are worth the search, even at a slightly steep ¥1,350 a pop.
The cool café-style interior provides a great background for Chantoya's excellent coconut curries. The standard veggie version includes everything from eggplant to cabbage and tomato, while other more unique combinations are also available. Choose from 25 different toppings, or just adjust the spice level to your satisfaction.
Take the ancient-looking lift to the fourth floor and step into this very retro café, which boasts a formidable food menu. We recommend the chicken curry, a creamy concoction made with a generous amount of veg and over 20 different spices.
The food menu is the real attraction at this hip hideaway bar. Try their famous flavourful curry, complete with chicken pieces, to go with your orders off the expansive drink list.
The curries at Chabo may look like cream stews at first sight, but actually pack more of a punch than you'd expect. The pork version is always a great choice, but the baked curry, served only at dinner time, is their true speciality.
The chefs at Shahi Dawat have really grasped the art of curry. Choose from 20 different alternatives, nine of them vegetarian, or go straight for the 'Shahi paneer', which contains a satisfying amount of home-made cheese. There really aren't any bad options here, and the sizes are satisfactory too.
This tea house deals primarily in Taiwanese leaves, from which they make sweet creations like jasmine milk tea or 'shaken jasmine tea'. Their chicken curry, available only on the weekends, goes surprisingly well with almost any of the drinks available.
This venerable Chinese eatery breaks with convention and serves Japanese-style curry flavoured with pickled ginger. Big eaters will do well to go for the pork rib version (¥1,200), a gently seasoned dish that should satisfy even the most ravenous curry hunter.