Food

Instant Japanese Curry Is One of, If Not the Most Popular Dish in All of Japan

Main image by Ocdp

If you have very little cooking skills, instant Japanese curry is for you because millions of Japanese already know how great it is, and you can also make great Japanese curry again and again.

Millions of Japanese families survive and live off of karē raisu (curry rice), and now you can find out how easy it is to make it again and again without getting tired of it.

Photo Description: a white background (table) with a plate of curry and rice shot directly above. The rice is on one half, the curry on the other. You can see chunks of potato, beef, and carrot. There's also a small dab of pickled radish that is red in color. The plate has blue stripes radiating out from the center.
If you want to know what Japanese people eat, this is it and it might be the national dish of Japan. Not to mention, you know you made it as a food when you have your own emoji 🍛 (emoji’s were invented by the Japanese which is another reason why it exists).

Japanese Curry Has Roots in Indian Curry

To give you an idea of what it is like if you have never had Japanese curry, it is a lot like Indian curry because Japanese curry originally came from India via the British Royal Navy who introduced it to the Japanese in the mid to late 1800s. After a few centuries tho, the Japanese have made it distinctively their own.

House Foods and S&B Are the Two Major Brands

Two Major Types of Products

  • Instant curry roux: It comes in “bricks” that look like chocolate bars, so all you need to do is a drop a few bars in a saucepan with water.
  • “Ready to eat” curry sauce: comes in a pouch that just needs to be warmed up which is why this would be my goto product for camping trips.

The Ingredients You Will Need (All Optional)

You can get by with just the curry roux and water, and you don’t have to include everything else to make it a meal.

The main ingredients

  • Meat
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Mixed vegetables

What to eat your curry with

  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Udon (noodles)
  • Bread
  • Anything you want

Ingredients used to tweak and switch up the flavor

If you are crazy enough, you can combine two different brands of curry roux together for another flavor hack.

  • Milk/cream/yogurt
  • Butter/ghee
  • Beef stock
  • Red wine
  • Ketchup/tomato
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Apples
  • Honey

Condiments

  • Beni shoga (pickled ginger)
  • Fukujinzuke (daikon/eggplant)
  • Green onion and fried garlic chips (something I picked up on in Korea at Abiko’s).

S&B and House Food’s Product Line up and Pricing

There’s only two types of products that I buy which is Vermont Curry and House Foods Ready Made. I’ll buy either one in whatever range of spiciness because Japanese food is never spicy even if you get HOT (Thai spicy is eff’n spicy AF).

Also about the pricing, Amazon typically has the fastest turnaround times, but they can be outrageously priced if you go through businesses that specialize in Japanese food (I have one of them listed below, along with a link to a full listed of specialized businesses).

NOTE: the links are provided to make it easier for you to shop, and I they are not affiliate links (I make absolutely no money off of these companies).

HOUSE FOODS

For the curry roux, House offers 3 products: Vermont Curry, Java Curry, and Kokumaro curry.

Photo Description: the packaging has in English the words: House Foods sauce mix, Vermont Curry, curry with a touch of apple and honey, and in the upper right "mild" with "apple & honey in the mid right side.
I’m a creature of habit, so I keep getting Vermont Curry which reminds me of Abiko’s in Korea.

VERMONT CURRY

My favorite is Vermont Curry, and I prepare it the way I had it in Korea (yea, not in Japan, but it was at a Japanese style curry shop called Abiko’s), which is with garlic chips and diced green onions.

“Enjoy the rich, smooth taste of curry, made possible by a blend of apple, flavorful honey, and onion.”

Amazon, Trust the Process Trading$20.95, 2-pack (way overpriced)
Tokyo Central$4.08
Photo Description: House Foods brand. The product is called Java curry with the text "robust flavorful curry" along with "concentrated for maximum flavor." The packaging is green and white, but it also has a graphic of palm trees on the left side of the packaging.
I love garlic and onions, so I need to switch it up and try these other two.

JAVA CURRY

“Robust flavorful curry with caramelized onion, roasted garlic and cardamom.”

Amazon, R&J Solutions $14.99 (way overpriced)
Tokyo Central$4.08
Photo Description: House Foods brand of curry roux. The product is called Kokumaro. The text on the packaging says "the perfect blend of rich and smooth curry."
A pro move is to mix up different roux.

KOKUMARO CURRY

“A blend of rich and creamy curry mix with caramelized onion, roasted garlic and miso.”

Amazon, ClickJapan$12.99, 4.94 oz (way overpriced)
Tokyo Central, 4.93 oz$3.28
Photo Description: House Foods packaging for Curry Sauce with Vegetables with the text "smooth and mild curry ready in minutes." The additional text says "Japanese style and hot."

CURRY SAUCE WITH VEGETABLES MILD

“Our ready-to-eat, smooth and mild flavor vegetable curry sauce is easy to prepare and could be ready in minutes! Pairs perfectly with rice, pasta or bread.”

Amazon, First SuperMarket$69.99, 10-Pack/$6.99 per box
Tokyo Central$3.08

S&B

Photo Description: S&B curry roux (sauce mix).
The boxes come in different colors which are dependent on the spiciness level.

GOLDEN CURRY ROUX

I grew up eating this, and my mom never switched it up with her own tweaks which is why I can easily identify the flavor.

Amazon, Maximum Shippers$30.05, 5-pack/$6.01 per box
Tokyo Central$4.08
Photo Description: S&B Golden Curry with sauce with vegetables. The packaging has the text "no MSG added, no mat contained, and ready-made sauce."
You can’t get any easier than this, and the only struggle is the cardboard box.

GOLDEN CURRY “Ready Made” (Pouch)

I would buy these IN BULK when they went on sale for about $1 (regularly $2.68) something at Japanese markets because it can’t get any easier than this.

Amazon, NGV Nation$25.38, 5-pack/$5.07 per box
Tokyo Central$2.68
Photo Description: S&B curry instant ready-made sauce. The packaging says "Golden Curry, Extra Hot, sauce with vegetables, no meat contained."
If this were Thai, it’d be a 1 in terms of being spicy.

GOLDEN CURRY “Ready Made” (from mild to extra hot)

The entire scale of 1-5 is silly if you can down chili peppers like it’s nothing although if you’re really sensitive to heat, you may want to start at mild although I think for most, it won’t even phase you.

Amazon, First SuperMarket$45.99 5-pack/$9.19 per box (way overpriced)
Tokyo Central$2.68
Photo Description: S&B, a Japanese curry powder brand. The packaging design is yellow and red with the text "oriental curry powder, Net Wt. 85 g 3 oz."
Hearing “oriental” reminds me of the people who would use the term “colored folk,” but they’re speaking of a product, so we coo.

Curry Powder

I have never used this product before because I’m not going to bother producing curry from scratch when it’s way easier to buy the roux.

Amazon, PowerForApple$11.85 2-Pack/$4.99 each
Tokyo Central$4.28

There’s no karē raisu without the rice

This is the epitome of laziness and convenience, instant rice.

Nishiki Premium Grade Rice

Rice is ready in a mere 1 minute 30 seconds.

Amazon, KC Commerce$38.49, Shirakiku brand, 10-pack/$3.84 (200g)
Target$2.09 per serving
Tokyo Central$1.78 per serving
Walmart$8.57, 5-pack/$1.71 per serving

Where to buy

Japanese markets in SoCal
Buy online

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[…] If I wasn’t sick of instant noodles, I might go out and buy some of the original Cup Noodles that I had grown up eating as a kid although getting to try the curry version is good enough, and I am more than content now. *8 hours later* I need more, but I can stop anytime I want although if you want to switch it up, I also suggest you try Japanese instant curry. […]

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