Curry is a comfort dish that comes from different regions all around the world. Tokyo’s curry scene reflects this diversity and overtime has come to develop its own map of styles, as well:
There are some neighborhoods where it is easy to find curry restaurants, most notably Shimokitazawa, while other neighborhoods are known for their sheer quantity of shops, especially Kanda (with an estimated 800 curry establishments). It’s nearly impossible to experience them all to find your favorites, so I’ve compiled a list of mine as a helpful guide.
For a convenient katsu curry, try Joto Curry, just a short walk from Shibuya Station. Their mild katsu curry can be spiced up with chili powder as well as a variety of condiments, customizing it into the exact plate of curry you desire. (2F, 3-18-7, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku)
Akasaka’s Toyoken, helmed by chef Yoshihara Narisawa, makes this list for its use of incredible ingredients. The black curry here is one of the most memorable I’ve had in Japan. It is made with Matsuzaka wagyu beef and is cooked for about a month. This is fine dining and not cheap by any means, but it’s a great splurge for curry aficionados. (1F Akasaka K Tower, 1-2-7 Moto-Akasaka, Minato-ku)
For a different flavor entirely, Dhaba India in Kyobashi has a dosa (thin crepe) that is worth a trek across town. Be warned: this South Indian restaurant does not allow diners to use their phones or laptops. (2-7-9, Yaesu, Chuo-ku)
Dig deep into your love for curry and its history at Jimbocho’s Kitchen Nankai, which has a sign in its window proclaiming that it’s the first restaurant to serve katsu curry. It’s popular as a result and there are often lines out the front door at peak dining times, but the bragging rights are justified and the katsu curry is well worth the wait. (1-5 Kanda-Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku)
Ginza’s New Castle curry is spicier than most and topped by a sunny-side-up egg with a soft yolk. The original shop opened in 1946 , although there is a newer branch aptly located at the JR Kanda Station. (B1 Ginza Land Bldg., 2-11-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku)
For a quick bowl of curry, head to Nikuyama Shibuya Curry in the basement of Tokyu Toyoko Department Store at Shibuya Station. This tachigui style in the depachika (department store basement) is a great option for a fast meal. (B1 Tokyu Toyoko-ten Nishi-kan, 2-24-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku)
The Park Hyatt Tokyo’s New York Grill serves a vegetable curry that is on both lunch and dinner menus. Chef de Partie, Aji Kurikul, who has been at the New York Grill since 2007, makes the vegetarian curry using seasonal vegetables and offerings. At the time I went, the curry was a colorful combination of vegetables, beans and nuts that was rich in umami. (52F Park Hyatt Tokyo, 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku)
If you’re not familiar, the Camp Curry chain’s signature dish includes a day’s worth of vegetables in one serving. It’s filling and satiating (and for non-vegetarians, topped with chicken). There are branches at some stations like Ikebukuro or Shinagawa.