We’ve had our expectation betrayed by “matcha” foods before, but what happens when we try this instant curry from Kyoto?
Last month, we found ourselves all excited for the launch of matcha green tea Cup Noodles. But while the unique variety of instant ramen was tasty in its own right, it didn’t really taste like matcha, something that was all the more disappointing since it really did look the part.
So with our matcha main dish cravings only partially fulfilled, we decided to try the matcha green tea curry which we’d heard about previously. Available through Kyoto-based tea sellers Itokyuemon, we picked up a pack at the company’s branch in front of Kyoto Station, then brought it back to Tokyo for a taste test.
▼ Packs of matcha curry standing by, priced at 540 yen (US$4.65)
Specifically, Itokyuemon green tea curry uses Uji matcha, one of the most highly prized varieties of tea produced in Japan. The roux comes packed in a vacuum-sealed pouch that you prepare by placing in boiling water, and once it was ready we tore open the packet and poured it over a plate of steaming white rice.
This wasn’t our first time trying curry that promised to be green, however. A while back, we dined on Resident Evil green curry that we thought would look as shocking as the survival horror series’ zombies, but which turned out to have a lot less visual impact. But in contrast to the video game tie-in curry, the Uji Matcha Curry is brilliantly green, much like you’d hope for with a cup of the beverage used in Japanese tea ceremonies.
But while Itokyuemon’s curry looks like matcha, its smell is unmistakably that of curry. Half-resigned to the possibility that the green tea curry would, like the green tea instant ramen, taste nothing like the beverage that serves as its inspiration, we decided to eat it with a traditional Japanese chasaji, or tea-stirring spoon.
Even as we brought the spoon closer to our lips, all our nose was telling us is “Yep, this is just curry.” Then we took a bite…
…and our taste buds offered the firm rebuttal “Nope, this here is matcha!”
See, while matcha has a distinct aroma, it’s not nearly as pungent as curry. Because of that, the scent of the green tea gets covered up in Itokyuemon’s curry, but it takes center stage in the flavor department. As a matter of fact, the flavor has so much matcha bitterness that it’s a bit of a shock if you’re expecting the spicy, sweet, and salty mixture that makes up the flavor profile of orthodox Japanese-style curry.
So is it good? Sure, if you’re in the mood for the full force of matcha, with an intensity far beyond the cursory “matcha-style” seasonings often found in green tea desserts. Just don’t underestimate it, because the Uji Matcha Curry truly lives up to its name.
Itokyuemon (Kyoto Station branch) / 伊藤久右衛門（京都駅前店）
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Shimogyo-ku, Higashi Shiokojicho 579, 1st floor
Closed January 1
Open 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
[ Read in Japanese ]
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[ Read in Japanese ]