Curry in Japan is not usually a fancy affair. It’s mostly found in places that are closer to a fast food level than a top-tier restaurant in Ginza — and that’s fine! Who can argue with inexpensive but delicious?
But not every curry restaurant is merely “cheap ‘n’ tasty.” Take, for example, Ishikawa Prefecture’s Go! Go! Curry, where you can get both regular curry and high-class 5,500-yen-a-plate curry! But is this US$45-curry worth the trip from Tokyo? We sent our Japanese writer Meg to find out!
Go! Go! Curry has a number of locations in Japan — and around the world. You can even get a plate of their curry in New York, Massachusetts, or Sao Paulo! But if you want their super-high-quality curry, you’ll have to go all the way to Wajima City in Ishikawa Prefecture — a seven-hour drive from Tokyo! You’ll also want to be sure to stop at the ATM before you head inside, since one plate costs 5,500 yen (about $44.75).
Fortunately, Meg was up for the trek north, but the real question was: Would she be happy she came?
Meg told us that the restaurant is located in the center of Wajima City, which is famous for its “mushi awabi,” or steamed abalone. As you’ve probably guessed by now, this is the exclusive curry’s special ingredient, but this was also what concerned our writer — Meg couldn’t even begin to imagine what such a combination would taste like.
▼ Meg, contemplating the appeal of curry and steamed abalone
On the other hand, if the restaurant is charging 5,500 yen for one plate, it couldn’t possibly be bad, right? Surely they wouldn’t have the gall to serve nasty curry for that price? So, steeling her nerves and tensing stomach, our writer headed inside.
For those of you who haven’t spent much time in curry or ramen shops in Japan, it helps to know that most places sell food tickets via a vending machine at the entrance. This usually seems to make the whole process a lot smoother, but that’s not the case at Go! Go! Curry in Wajima City! Instead, Meg discovered that an actual person would come and take her order. Which is when things got kind of…weird.
Upon asking for the high-priced curry, the employee grimaced slightly as if about to apologize in that very Japanese way. “I’m afraid that dish will take a bit of time to prepare. Is that okay?” he said. Once Meg assured him that she was perfectly happy to wait, the staff member turned, walked away, and… made a phone call. So when they said the dish would take a while, they clearly meant that they were about to go and buy the abalone to put in it! Meg began to see why this is a specialty limited to Wajima City — in order to avoid keeping the abalone in storage for a long time, the staff just go out and buy some every time there’s an order!
But eventually the waiter did return — bearing food, no less! And there before Meg was none other than the steamed-abalone, 5,500-yen-a-plate curry!
Sitting atop the dark, thick curry the restaurant is famous for were thick, succulent pieces of abalone, which took the place of the pork cutlet that you’d normally expect to find on Go! Go! Curry’s dishes. But that wasn’t the only special thing going on here; the utensils were also made with wajima-nuri lacquer, as were the tray, spoon, and curry dish. It was truly a meal steeped in local culture!
But as beautiful as the utensils and dishes were, the real question is: How was the food?
Meg said she was initially captivated by the appearance of the curry — and it certainly does look impressive.
▼ You can look and touch!
But how was the taste?
▼ The moment of truth…
In a word, “delicious!”. Meg found that it had a mellow but sweet taste along with a crunchy texture and told us that the pricey ingredient definitely pairs well with the curry. And rather than the curry losing to the abalone or visa versa, she found that the pair perfectly matched each other.
Another point of interest here is the volume of the dish. Of course, everyone eats different amounts, but Meg felt that there was almost too much here to eat by herself. And yet…it turns out that the volume was the same as the smallest “healthy-class” serving! We suppose the abalone added a bit of heft to the dish, but still…this picture is leaving us scratching our chins.
▼ “Healthy” class on the left, abalone curry on the left
Finally, Meg told us she has absolutely no regrets about eating the high-grade curry. It might be expensive, she commented, but it’s worth trying 5,500-yen curry at least once — especially something as rare as abalone curry!
If you are interested in this dish, you should be aware that only five servings are available each day! And since the food isn’t prepared until it’s ordered, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have plenty of time before you order!
Go! Go! Curry Wajima Branch
Address: 石川県輪島市河井町20部1-131 (inside Do no Eki Wajima/ Furatto Otoyume) Google Maps
Hours: 10：55～20：55 (open every day)
Website: Go! Go! Curry
All photos © RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]