Drip Curry

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Drip Curry

This is apparently the latest craze to hit the Tokyo food scene, and very strange it is, too.

Drip curry takes the very popular drip coffee concept one step further, whilst using all the same set up and paraphernalia. But whilst it still has a counter lined with individual drip filters, this does not give you a delicate china cup of limited edition coffee, but a cardboard tub of curry rice made with flavoured boiling water.

(I should pause briefly to explain that the classic Japanese curry rice bears little resemblance to the Indian variety you may be imagining. Instead it is slightly sweet, rarely very spicy, and is a great budget favourite on a cold night when you do not fancy noodles.)

Here there’s a choice of beef, seafood and spicy chicken, then a range of options with which to flavour the water – you could for example choose maple sugar or jasmine tea for your chicken, or red pepper or bonito for your fish. I hesitated over the coffee for my beef but went for the garlic in the end.

What happens next is intriguing. The tub of par cooked rice is topped with a block of condensed curry which looks very much like a large flat stock cube. This goes on a small scale under the dripper. A container of whichever flavour you chose is emptied into the paper filter then boiling water poured over it until the scales measure the right weight.

At this point you realise that it is less of a fast food option than you had imagined, because you need to wait for several minutes – and there is a very confusing ‘sauna’ clock which ticks round 12 minutes instead of 60 to help with this – before you can stir it all up and tuck in. As the outlet I chose was on the platform of the Yamanote Line train at Shibuya, it felt like I ‘missed’ a whole series of trains before I could eat my lunch. I confess I found this somewhat stressful…

Once I was able to eat it, I found my curry was full of flavour and there was so much I could not finish it. At only ¥290 for a hot and filling snack, this is very good value, and whilst it isn’t the tastiest thing I’ve eaten it was a vast improvement on instant noodles. It probably won’t overtake their universal popularity, but as it also comes from noodle giant Nissin, this will not matter.


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