Japanese Restaurant Review – Curry House CoCo Ichibanya

coco ichibanya

I love curry. If you give me curry, I will love you. It’s as simple as that. But curry is certainly not the first things you think of when you think Japan, but the Japanese also really love their curry. Let’s look at one of my favorite Japanese fast food restaurants – CoCo Ichibanya.

What is Japanese Curry?

At first, Japanese curry wasn’t what I was expecting. I’m a big fan of Indian curries with their mix of meats and spices. But Japanese curry didn’t look a whole lot like any Indian curry I’ve ever had before.

Japanese curry dishes typically look like a plate filled half with white rice and the other half with a brown sauce with meat. Honestly, it really doesn’t look that appetizing when you see it for the first time.

It is said that curry was spread to Japan from the west at the end of the Edo period after the ports re-opened, and that the first curry recipe was introduced to Japan in 1872. After 200 years of seclusion, the whole nation was eager to absorb western culture, and food was no exception. – S&B

As curry grew more popular in Japan it started to transform into a style that the Japanese preferred. As rice was the most popular side dish, the Japanese curry was changed to complement the rice and eventually turned into what can almost best be described as a thick curry gravy. This gravy-like sauce goes very well with sticky white rice.

History of Japanese Curry

Image from Chef Taro

Coco Ichibanya

You won’t have to look hard in Japan to find a place to eat curry. Almost every mall will have a curry house somewhere. If you keep your eyes peeled for the plates of curry on display that almost look like yin-yang artwork, you’ll know you’ve found a curry house.

Japanese curry restaurant display

Photo by Taste Buds to Share

What I particularly like about CoCo Ichibanya (or Cocoichi as the locals call it) is that they let you custom make your own curry. For example, I like a spicy meat curry but I also like a few vegetables and potato in my curry. CoCo Ichibanya lets you start off with a base curry, then you select your rice and add the ingredients and toppings that you would like in it. Last of all you choose the spice level of how hot you want it.

For good measure, I thought I should also throw some tonkatsu on top as well :)

my curry plate

My curry creation

Stacey on the other hand wanted more vegetables and less spice, so she was able to make her own custom creation.

Japanese curry

Stacey's Curry

You can also select from pre-made curries if you like, but I think designing your own is the best way to go. Here is how the make-your-own section of the menu looks:

Coco Ichibanya menu

If you notice, they have some pretty extreme spiciness levels that you can choose form. I decided I wanted to jump in at level 5 (you can’t choose higher than level 5 without having eating a level 5 before), but when I said the level, the waitress just looked at me like I was crazy. Then she looked over at our Japanese host with a look that said “Is this guy serious?” After several seconds of awkward silence, I realized that she wasn’t going to do anything until I lowered my spice level. So I ended up going with the level 4…even though I could have totally rocked the level 5.

eating at cocoichi

This is how all the cool dudes order a Level 4

Coco Ichibanya is a great fast foot restaurant when you’re in the mood for some Japanese curry. The make-you-own curry is just too much fun not to try at least once.

Here’s a video review I found. The volume is really low, but I love this Kiyo dude:

If you have any Cocoichi stories, we’d love to hear them :)

One Response to “Japanese Restaurant Review – Curry House CoCo Ichibanya”

  1. Nyasha  on January 5th, 2020

    Damn, you shouldn’t have let the waitress make you change your level for you. Have you tried any higher levels than 6 since then? I love adding tonkatsu too or even any of the zanmai because of the hojun sauce that comes with the dish.

    There is so much that I particularly love of this chain bringing to my second favourite food. The curry house definitely upped the quality and expectation of Japanese curry in my opinion with not just the customisation but also the spice.
    It’s probably one of the three spiciest places I went to in Japan quite frequently when I lived there. I myself love CoCo Ichibanya so much that I am doing a world tour by going to branches around the world. Hope you can check out and comment on my first stop to several Japan branches:


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