There’s something severely underrated about curry. Beneath Tokyo’s mind-boggling gastronomic scene lies this comfort food, a modest and unsuspecting national treasure. With a mellower flavor, curry fundamentally captures the essence of Japanese cuisine: A harmonious blend of ingredients that allows for each flavor to shine. It’s simple, yet wholesome. It’s the reason why I still keep curry cubes in my pantry and why we’re losing count on just how many Tokyo restaurants have dedicated themselves to this one dish alone.
So, it stands to reason that we’re giving this staple the spotlight it deserves. Some are all-time classics; some are newer renditions — but each one is finally getting its due. These are only some of the best gourmet curry restaurants at Tokyo Station, as determined by the head chefs of The Tokyo Station Hotel and Station Restaurant The Central in a competition organized by the Tokyo Station City Management Council.
1. Poo Nim Pad Pong Curry at Mango Tree Kitchen “Gapao”
Mango Tree Kitchen is almost a rite of passage to everything Thai. They load their curries with spices, white pepper and chili paste. Large softshell crab, stir-fried sardines and fluffy eggs, drenched with the coconut milk-based sauce blanket over the aromatic jasmine rice. Sour, spicy and sweet, it’s truly exquisite.
Where: B1F Gransta, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
2. Beef Tongue Curry Rice at Rikyu
For a quick bowl of Japanese curry, head to Rikyu at Tokyo Station. This place is best known for its beef tongue which is simmered slowly and served in generous thick cuts. It’s straightforward, cozy and fully deserving of its stellar reputation due to its simplicity. “It’s a gem,” the judges say. We couldn’t agree more.
Where: B1 Gransta, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
3. Shrimp Veggie Curry at Koi To Spice
You’ll undoubtedly catch a whiff of a delightful spice-packed fragrant coming from this restaurant. One look at this visually and texturally appealing curry plate would have anyone veering away from the ever-decent family chain Coco Ichibanya. Downright delicious, the plate contains bountiful shrimps and vegetables, topped with papad (thin Indian wafer), sautéed spinach, coriander, fried onions and fried eggs.
Where: B1F Gransta, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
4. Katsu Curry at Tonkatsu Maisen
No one can deny katsu curry is the ultimate soul-satisfying plate of home. As one of the oldest pork cutlet shops (founded in 1965), Tonkatsu Maisen makes sure food junkies and salarymen alike know that. The restaurant serves panko-crusted cutlets using tenderloins. They are so soft you can “slice through them with a pair of chopsticks.” Deep-fried with sunflower oil and served over slow-stewed curry, it’s basic and humble with no pretense. Put simply, we all need something like this once in a while, if not every day.
Where: 12F Daimaru, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
5. Tokyo Curry Pan at Burdigala Tokyo
The hollowed-out sourdough bread becomes a vat of overwhelmingly delicious butter chicken curry and clotted cream. This is a heavenly marriage of carbs. It’s also a nod to just how far a mundane curry can be taken to the next level.
Where: 5F Daimaru, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
6. Curry Soba at Edokiri Sukerokusoba Nurukan Sato
At this udon house, you can choose from 20 kinds of soba-age, but it’s their curry soba that takes the top prize. A buckwheat soba floating in a bonito-based and vibrant curry soup with a subtle umami derived from dashi, it’s no wonder this Japanese cuisine garners such a respectable reputation.
Where: 1F Gransta, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
7. Zopf’s Original Curry Bun
If we’re doing this right, we have to include the classic curry bun on the list. Plenty of minced beef, onions, carrots and mushrooms provide a delicious and thoughtful balance to the hearty curry base, which itself is finished with more than a dozen kinds of spices. The chewy bread dough complements the spice. As a result, it’s a great treat to be eaten piping hot or slightly chilled.
Where: B1F Gransta1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
8. Tokyo Black Curry at Book Compass Cafe
A spoonful of this curry will get you a day’s worth of vegetables. Located in the premises of Tokyo Station, the cafe is adjacent to the bookstore Book Compass. Their notoriously eyebrow-raising black curry uses four kinds of vegetables and tops the dish with grilled cheese that makes for a perfect nap-inducing, albeit healthy, feast.
Where: 1F Ecute Tokyo, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
9. Hokkaido “Potato Donut” Chickpea Curry at Boulangerie La Terre
The curry bread in this renowned bakery is delightful. The dough is made from Hokkaido potatoes and Japanese wheat grain Kitanokaori. Unlike most variations that feature the same traditional condiments of carrots, potatoes and some kind of lean protein, they stuff their donuts with chickpeas, which further enhances the rich curry sauce.
Where: 1F Ecute Keiyo Street, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
10. Tofu and Vegetable Curry at Esaki no Obento
The takeout shop is all about finding joy in good health with the right culinary execution. The nourishing bento is colored with vegetables and soy meat. This makes for a very appetizing vegan-friendly option. For those who can’t handle the spice kick, their curry roux is moderately flavored with the right hint of sour, sweet and aged umami.
Where: 1F Ecute, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku