Curry is one of the most popular foods in the world. Japan has its own version of curry. However, the typical Japanese curry and rice combination (kare raisu) has been introduced via the United Kingdom, and has very little connection to the authentic spicy meal. Luckily, Japan also has a lot of foreign cuisine restaurants.
According to 2016 and 2015 data from the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are 60,689 Nepalese and 28,047 Indian nationals residing in Japan. Many reside as ethnic enclaves within the Okubo and Hyakunincho neighborhoods. In Edogawa ward, about 2000 Indians live in the Nishi-Kasai area known as a “Little India”. That provides a great opportunity both to try different styles of curry and support other foreigners’ work.
Especially if you are vegetarian, Indian and Nepalese curry shops in Japan are something you must try. They are all over the country! Usually run by foreigners, these shops are very foreigner-friendly. The menus are usually in both Japanese and English. Plus they are budget-friendly. One person can get his or her stomach happy and full for around 1000 yen.
There is no need to look for a particular Indian or Nepalese curry place, because they are very common and easy to find anywhere in Japan. In Tokyo it happens that Ueno has quite a few of them, and one vegetarian focused location even offers vegan options. “Vege Herb Saga” is located close to the station. They offer a huge mountain shaped kind of pancake called dosa.
The staff is very friendly, and the chef even came to greet us at the table. The prices are a little higher the average, but well worth it.
Another popular place near Ueno, next to the street market Ameyokocho, is a place called “Mantra.” They offer a curry buffet where you can try different flavours. The staff speaks English and was helpful with the vegetarian options.
There is a chain of shops called Manakamana (マナカマナ). They are often located near train stations, such as Edogawa and Higashi Koenji, among others. As free of charge starters, they offer spicy crackers and a small radish salad. The water is poured in a beautiful copper cups that keep it cool. And of course, their curry and naan come in numerous variations.
There are so called set courses that include several kinds of curry and side dishes, such as salad, and a desert. You can choose the level of spice from none to very hot. I think the most spicy ones are great for the cold weather. Naan choices are usually: normal, butter, garlic, sesame seeds, and sweet.
Usually, Indian and Nepalese curry shops are small and very cozy. There would be traditional music playing, and the interior contains various scenes of nature, such as Mt. Everest. I find the food, atmosphere, and friendliness a very relaxing experience.
There is an option of taking out too.
I love eating at Indian and Nepalese curry shops with all the bright colors and mix of scents and spices. Maybe you will find your favorite too?
Disclaimer: I do not possess knowledge on the differences between Indian regional and Nepalese cuisine.