Just over a month ago, the poor relation of the convenience store chain family that is Save On unveiled a dish that it hoped would appeal to the hungry man on a budget and entice customers through its novelty value: an enormous 1 kg (2.2 lbs) tub of curry and rice. Even by western standards, the dish looks intimidating, sitting there taking up nearly twice the shelf space as its brethren and with a deep dish brimming with thick, dark-brown liquid and gut-filling fluffy white rice.
Since the dish is not yet available in all Save On stores, the gluttonous RocketNews24 team — famous for its food challenges like the 1,000 cheese slice Whopper and the 30 patty cheeseburger eatathon — was itching to try it but hadn’t been able to track one down until recently.
Luckily, late last week our reporter Yoshio was able to pay a trip to Saitama prefecture to pick up one of Save On’s monster curry tubs. And, even better, they were on sale for half price! Without stopping to wonder why such a gargantuan amount of food could possibly be on offer for such a meagre sum, our hungry writer bent at the knees, grabbed one with both hands and headed to the register.
To western eyes, Japanese karē raisu (curry and rice) probably doesn’t look especially appealing, nor particularly like the spicy dish that they know and love. Despite hailing from India, the curry that is enjoyed across Japan with rice, bread and even noodles on a dialy basis is considered to be a western dish. Originally introduced to Japan in the late 1800s by the British Navy (who, in turn, had
deliciously butchered simplified and adapted the dish to suit their own tastes), curry soon became incredibly popular and is now a firm family favourite, with dozens of brands available on supermarket shelves and in family restaurant chains. Its main ingredients incude potatoes, onion, carrot and often has meat or prawns, scallops or shellfish thrown in for good measure.
The dish our reporter sat down to, however, was bare-bones curry and rice. No delicious seafood or vegetables, no juicy pork, chicken or beef; just mounds of sticky white rice and a small swamp of rich, brown liquid.
Here’s Yoshio’s gums-on experience of the mega meal:
- Curry, curry, curry!
After entering the lesser-known convenience store and heading to the ready-meal corner, the first thing that struck me was just how many of these monstrous things are being sold. Among the other ready-meals, these gargantuan tubs of food stand proud, no doubt being stared at every other minute by customers who would never dream of tackling such an amount of food in one sitting, daring customers to try and lift them.
- And it’s on sale!
I couldn’t help but laugh, though, when I noticed the stickers adhered to the clear plastic lids: “Now just half price!” Reduced from 498 yen (US$ 5.96) to 249 yen ($2.96), how could I not pick one up!?
I took my gigantic purchase over to the cash register and, noticing the label warning shoppers that the liquid inside may leak out if the container was not handled properly, placed it down on the counter like a four-tier wedding cake balanced on a set of pin-pong balls. The store clerk assured me with a smile that despite the massive discount there would be no difference taste…
▼Save On! As cheap as the name suggests!
- The taste test
The store I visited had a small eat-in corner where shoppers can sit down to enjoy their food purchases right away. The clerk (just barely) inserted my mega meal into one of the microwaves and set the timer for two minutes, which, considering how powerful their ovens are, seemed like more than enough.
With the dish in front of me, I slowly, carefully, removed the sturdy plastic lid and the second layer of film. With the smell of strong, tangy curry wafting over me, I realised that it was too late to go back. Picking up my plastic spoon, I steeled my nerves and set to eating.
The first thing I noticed was how good the rice was. This is no cheap junk thrown in simply to add bulk; this is high grade stuff! Soft, fluffy and great smelling, it reminded me of the rice served at the Japanese hamburg (not hamburger!) chain Bikkuri Donkey. Seriously good stuff!
Remembering my mother’s words, though, I reminded myself not to fill up entirely on empty carbs and dug my spoon into the huge brown lake of curry that gently lapped at the fluffy rice shore.
Despite having been microwaved for a full two minutes on “high”, the curry was barely lukewarm in some places. It was thick and gloopy and, as you can see in the video that I shot during my trip to the store, wobbled around in the plastic container like jelly. And plentiful though it was, without any meat or vegetables, the meal was a fairly lonely experience. But having paid just 249 yen for this enormous bucket of food, I soldiered on an gradually made my way through it.
Despite the curry gradually growing thicker and thicker as it cooled (and be sure that it will cool down before you make it to the end!) and the fact that I wish I’d had the clerk nuke the meal for another minute or so, this wasn’t actually all that bad a dining experience. Rich, tasty and, of course, filling.
For those of you looking to fill up in one meal and on a budget, Save On’s curry rice is definitely worth a try. Just be sure to nuke that bad boy good and long first!
Rather you than me, Yoshio. Rather you than me!
I’ll leave you now with a couple of snaps our reporter took during his visit to the convenience store-cum-restaurant. The very sight of this monster is enough to put me off my sandwiches…
▼Behold! Save On’s leviathon curry rice!
▼Cheap, cheap, cheap!
▼White, fluffy rice (and mud-like curry…)
▼”I laughed out loud when I saw how cheap Save On’s ice-cream was. Wow”
[ Read in Japanese ]