Whoever thought that curry from India would reach the Land of the Rising Sun? Possessing the spices that constituted it due to their occupation of India, the British brought curry to Japan through trade. However, there are still differences between the original and the Japanese adoption. Indian curry is lighter and runnier in consistency, whilst the Japanese one is thicker and has a darker color. The spices for Indian curries come in powdered form, while the Japanese use the block-shaped ones for convenience. But if you ask me, it doesn’t matter what type of curry I eat – as it’s one of my favorite foods. I don’t mind whether it’s mom’s signature chicken curry, that orange-tinted cream dory curry (thanks to paprika), or it’s the katsu curry I ate at Yabu some time ago. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the wonderful scent of spices makes you crave a hearty lunch.
When CJ found out that the Japanese curry restaurant CoCo Ichibanya had already opened their first branch at Estancia Mall (Capitol Commons), we wasted no time and visited it as soon as possible. We chose to have lunch there upon arriving before heading over to MUNI Market Day. CoCo Ichibanya is a popular curry restaurant with branches worldwide, operated by House Foods – incidentally the largest producer of instant curry mixes in Japan. The UCC group (of UCC Coffee fame) made possible CoCo Ichibanya’s arrival here in our shores. They plan on opening new branches at The Fort, Rockwell, and Greenhills. The pilot branch has a rather small capacity, so I don’t suggest going here at the peak of lunchtime. Before or after high noon would do as there aren’t much customers.
A color scheme revolving around yellows and browns (incidentally, the color of Japanese curry) prepared diners for a warm and earthy experience. A map of the world is shown on one side of the restaurant, marking key cities where CoCo Ichibanya has its presence. Glass jars containing various spices used for curry lined the shelves above the dining area. Four glass panels that featured four spices and their health benefits adorned another side of the joint. Service was fast and accurate, as the staff used iPads to note down customers’ orders. Menu items leaned toward the expensive side, but they were highly customizable. If you ask me, such a pricing is a guarantee that only ingredients of top-notch quality go into every order. There was an additional charge for extra rice orders and a P20 deduction if one wanted a smaller serving of rice. Adjusting the spiciness did not incur any charges, so diners are given the chance to be daring with their curries.
I’m personally looking forward to seeing CoCo Ichibanya open more branches in the future. To end this post, here are pictures from our trip. Check out CoCo Ichibanya’s Facebook page and official company website. Until the next review, bon appetit.
Curry House CoCo Ichibanya
Basement Level, Estancia Mall
Capitol Commons, Shaw Boulevard
Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City 1603