Farm-to-Table & Spice Magic: Soup Curry In Hokkaido
In Japan, curry is one of the perfect dishes for a Table For One, as known by solo diners. The Japanese curry is a convenient food, just like ramen and conveyor belt sushi, known as Kaiten-zushi. These dining venues that serve these foods are gender-free and feel very comfortable for soloists to have lunch or dinner.
Since curry was introduced to Japan from the UK, it has been served in restaurants and cafes. Households also like to prepare their own unique curry. During the 1980s and 1990s, there was an ethnic food boom in Tokyo, led by Southeast Asian cuisine. In the beginning of the 2000’s, the media reported that “Jimbocho is the town of curry” and it became recognized as the “holy land” of curry. In addition to Jimbocho (prefecture, Tokyo), there are four other mecca cities: Yokohama (Kanagawa), Sapporo (Hokkaido), Nagoya (Aichi), and Osaka. All of these regions have developed their own very unique and completely different curry recipes. Japanese and Indian, as well as Western food hybrids flourished.
The history of soup curry spawned by Hokkaido
Soup curry, known as a special style of Hokkaido curry, is not a typical roux based curry that is diluted with water. It is more like a spiced soup. This specialty curry appeared in Sapporo in 1960, followed by the openings of Sri Lankan, Indonesian, and Indian curry restaurants in 1984. The number of curry restaurants gradually started to increase. Since 2000, this special “soup curry” has become a buzzword all over Japan. Nowadays, Sapporo is one of the best foodie cities in Japan. Soup curry is unique to the area along with special native seafood dishes containing sea urchin, crab, salmon roe, etc. Other unique dishes include local ramen and Genghis Khan-Mongolian style barbecue utilizing grilled mutton.
Here’s what you need to know about soup curry…
There are two types of soup curry, Dashi-based and spice-based. In dashi, the main flavor comes from umami -essence of deliciousness, based from shrimp, tomatoes, consommé, etc. Spices are later added as a secondary ingredient. In contrast, spice based curry, as the name implies, has less of a dashi flavor and more of a spiciness.
According to curry enthusiasts, the spicier the taste, the better the curry can be! Many curry restaurants offer the option to customize the spiciness, so if you like spicy hot food, just go ahead and make it spicy! Some curries can certainly taste better when they are spicier, so ask the waiter what level of heat you can best enjoy the curry you order. Just as a sommelier will help you choose a wine paired with a dish, a curry restaurant in Hokkaido will tell you how spicy the curry should be. And another characteristic of the curry is the lavish garnishes of various vegetables, which are typically fried in oil without batter. Many of the restaurants use fresh local ingredients to make their curry sustainable, with minimal waste. Not only is it delicious, but Hokkaido curry is also great for locavore diners. Extra toppings, such as meat, vegetables, boiled eggs, cheese, etc., can be included in the dishes for an additional charge, which adds even greater uniqueness of Hokkaido’s curry. If you can eat a lot, try it with toppings!
In most cases, the soup curry, and the accompanied rice are served on separate plates. When eating, the rice is usually scooped out with a spoon and dipped into the soup. Pouring the soup on the rice side is not recommended because it is not considered very proper. If you do pour, the soup sinks to the bottom of the rice plate, and this, you cannot completely enjoy the full flavor of the curry soup.
Perfect Guide: The Holy Curry Land of Hokkaido
Every morning, the chefs meticulously prepare a mixture of 30 spices and 15 Chinese herbal medicines. They spend six hours, starting at 5:00 a.m., to make their soup, which is unique and quite superb. Many soup curries in Sapporo seem to be westernized, but this particular restaurant is authentic with its roots based in India. It is known as one of the original soup curry restaurants. This particular soup curry was made in 1975 by adding chicken and other special ingredients to the soup stock to the medicinal herbal curry of the time. The curry is carefully prepared with much time and effort. There are only a limited amount (50 servings of soup curry) per day so it’s really worth it to find it and taste this dish for yourself.
2-18, Kita 23-jo Higashi 20-chome, Higashi-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
The historical curry is not only delicious but is very healthy for you… Start with this restaurant for a taste of Hokkaido gourmet dining.”Our members comment…
The recipe for this curry was developed by trial and error to eventually create an amazing soup curry that even those who don’t like spicy food can enjoy. Using the French technique of fond de veau, chicken, pork, beef bones, along with eight kinds of aromatic vegetables with a bouquet garni, containing 14 secret herbal ingredients, are slowly simmered for over 10 hours. This hybrid curry incorporates a variety of techniques from Asian Italian and French cuisines. It is a mild tomato-based sweet soup that is like beef stew with a hint of basil.
City Heim N15, Kita 15-jo Nishi 4-chome, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
This a must-try spicy tomato soup curry. It’s actually a mild soup with refreshing acidity that is well-balanced and bursts with numerous flavors that are harmonious.”Our members comment…
It is widely known that Ajanta’s medicinal soup led to Magic Spice’s breakthrough by renaming it “soup curry”. The restaurant also has stores in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, but the main restaurant, Hokkaido, has various exclusive soup curries. The famous dish Hokkeido curry is made with plenty of local vegetables. Frank nagai or “long sausage” curry, is served with a 30 cm/12 inch long special sausage. The clear soup, with its Indonesian roots, has a deep flavor with concentrated chicken stock and stimulating spices.
6-2, Hongo-dori 8-minami, Shiroishi-ku, Sapporo
Seven levels of spiciness, from “Awakening” to “Empty” along with 40 different toppings are available. You can travel to your own unique world of “Spicy Heaven”.Our members comment…
The signature curry is made with Nattō (fermented soybeans), ground chicken, okra, and nametake-enoki mushrooms is marinated in soy sauce. If you don’t mind fermented soybeans, you should try this curry, which has an exquisite taste. Along with Ajanta and Magispa, this is one of the best soup curry restaurants in Hokkaido that you definitely need to visit.
B1F, Kentaku Building 29, Minami 2-jo Nishi 9-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Tantalizingly delicious! The Nattō, dashi, and spices are so well-balanced.”Our members comment…
The Maharaja Curry is filled with large pieces of chicken and vegetables. The tender chicken leg from Shiretoko (the peninsula is located in the northeast of Hokkaido) is delicate enough to be loosened with a spoon. In addition, the sweetness of the colorful vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, matches well with the spicy soup. We also recommend the hamburger curry with homemade fluffy hand-grained hamburger steak, and the Pork Kakuni Curry which contains large pork cubes.
This soup, made with a blend of 23 different spices, has a rich and addictive spicy flavor that is truly unforgettable.
1-7-1, Hiraoka Ichijo, Kiyota-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
For more than 20 years, the flavors have captivated tourists and locals everywhere.”Our members comment…
The seafood curry is a Hokkaido gourmet dish, filled with local shrimp, squid, scallops, and other seafood. What makes is soup curry so richly fragrant soup curry is the use of shrimp broth made from 2,000 Japanese sweet shrimp. The story behind the broth is that the owner’s mother used to make for him when he was a child. By relying on such memories, you can taste the sweet shrimp fused harmoniously with the soup curry. Now many people from all over Japan and even abroad wait on long lines just for a taste of this delicious soup curry. Starting with the main restaurant in 2006, there are now 13 restaurants from Hokkaido to Tokyo.
PASEO WEST 1F, Kita 6jo Nishi 2, Kita-ku, Sapporo
The unforgettable taste of the amazing original shrimp soup!Our members comment…
In summary, there are about 200 different restaurants that serve numerous styles of curry in Sapporo. Half of these, about 100 restaurants specialize in soup curry. All of them are of high quality, so find your favorite!