A longtime favorite dish in Japan, Japanese curry was adapted from influences of Indian cuisine during the Meiji Period, a filling meal that’s popular for its intense flavor and hearty spice. Introduced by the Imperial Japanese Navy to prevent vitamin B deficiencies, in its early days, exotic French-inspired curry roux was made using imported British curry powder. Japanese curry is now recognized as yoshoku, a Western-style dish that’s since been modified to better suit Japanese tastes. Maintaining popularity today, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force still eats curry every Friday, with coastal regions like Hiroshima Prefecture specializing in local curry varieties.
Typically served with vegetables and your choice of protein (make scrumptious katsukare by adding deep-fried pork cutlets), curry rice features curry roux generously ladled over a fluffy bed of Japanese rice, while curry udon uses noodles instead. For a quick curry fix, karepan or “curry bread” consists of a plump dough filled with curry then baked or deep-fried, sold at convenience stores and bakeries. Completely in a league of its own, Hokkaido’s soup curry is another popular spin-off dish, a watery version peppered with secret spices and served with plenty of local vegetables. Join a Japanese home cooking class and learn how to make curry from scratch or enjoy the best backstreet Japanese curry during a local food tour. After just one spicy spoonful, you’ll understand why it’s one of Japan’s most popular dishes.