Product Food

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

Main image by Ocdp. Originally posted April 9th, 2020. Updated April 9th, 2022.

If you have non-existent cooking skills, instant Japanese curry is what you need in your life (especially if your life is sad and filled with only Beef Taco Hot Pockets).

Millions of Japanese families survive and live off of karē raisu (curry rice), and now you can find out how easy it is to prepare and to tweak it to make it your own.

If you can boil water or microwave a brick of roux or a pack of brown goo, then all you need to do is dump it over some potatoes, rice, noodles, or dip a Hot Pocket in will have you feeling like a pro chef (also that pack can be kept/stored between your sofa cushions or La-Z-Boy).

I know labeling it as “brown goo” doesn’t sound appetizing, but it is.
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).

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 Japanese Curry Brands

  1. House Foods (house-foods.com)
  2. S&B Foods (sbfoods-worldwide.com)

Three Major Types of Japanese Curry 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.
  • Curry powder: if you are the type that wants more control over your curry, curry powder will be your best bet. The ingredients include: Turmeric, Coriander, Fenugreek, Cumin, Red Pepper, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Star Anise, Cloves, Cardamon, Fennel, Nutmeg, Laurel Leaves, Allspice and Garlic.
  • “Ready to Eat/Made” 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.

I have provided pricing per unit so that you can compare pricing. I also have Tokyo Central pricing, which is on par with Walmart pricing for Japanese food (brick and mortar only).

The Optional Added Ingredients

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 Suggested Main Ingredients to Add to Japanese Curry

  • Meat (ideally a beef chuck)
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Mixed vegetables

What to Eat Your Curry With

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

If you are feeling cray cray, you can combine two different brands of curry roux together for a flavor hack.

Photo Description: Cup Noodle instant curry noodles.
Yup, even instant ramen by Cup Noodle has a curry flavor (it helps to mask the spongy fried noodle taste).

Ingredients Used to Tweak and Switch Up the Curry Flavor

  • Milk/cream/yogurt
  • Butter/ghee
  • Beef stock
  • Red wine
  • Ketchup/tomato
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Apples
  • Honey
  • Spice! Red pepper to flakes

Japanese Curry Condiments

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

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.

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 as of April 15th, I have included affiliate links where I may make a small commission at no cost to you.

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

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

Hot
8.1oz (230g)
Amazon
$9.99 (2 pack)
($4.99 each)
Medium hot
8.1oz (230g)
Amazon
$11.97 (2 pack)
($5.98 each)
Mild
8.1oz (230g)
Amazon
$27.64 (5 pack)
($5.52 each)
Pricing is subject to change.
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.”

Hot
6.52oz
Amazon
$49.95 (10 pack)
($4.99 each)
Medium Hot
6.52oz
Amazon
$14.88 (2 pack)
($7.44 each)
Guess what? Pricing is subject to change.
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 types of roux.

KOKUMARO CURRY

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

Hot
4.93oz
Amazon
$49.93 (10 pack)
($4.99 each)
Medium Hot
4.94oz
Amazon
$5.80 (1 pack)
($5.80 each)
Medium Hot
4.94oz
Amazon
$14.90 (3 pack)
($4.96 each)
Medium Hot
4.94oz
Tokyo Central
($3.28 each)
By now you should know that pricing is subject to change.
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."
A pouch of ready made curry makes for a quick meal.

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.”

Hot
7.0oz
Amazon
$37.98 (10 pack)
($3.79 each)
Mild
7.0oz
Amazon
$44.00 (10 pack)
($4.40 each)
Mild
7.0oz
Tokyo Central
($3.08 each)
Pricing never changes, and if you believe that, you are delusional.

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.

This is a taste of my childhood.
Hot
7.8oz
Amazon
$22.74 (5 pack)
($4.54 each)
Medium Hot
8.4oz (240g)
Amazon
$24.54 (5 pack)
($4.90 each)
Medium Hot
3.2oz (92g)
Amazon
2.73 (1 pack)
($2.73 each)
Mild
7.8oz
Amazon
$23.47 (5 pack)
($4.69 each)
Mild
8.4oz (240g)
Tokyo Central
$4.08
Pricing is subject to change.
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.

Hot
8.1oz
Amazon
$22.70 (5 pack)
($4.54 each)
Mild
8.1oz
Amazon
$21.00 (5 pack)
($4.20 each)
Mild
w/Veggies

7.4oz
Amazon
$18.02 (10 pack)
($1.80 each)
HotTokyo Central
$2.68 each
Pricing is subject to change (I’m just copy and pasting this disclaimer).
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 scale of 1-5 is silly because if you can chug down chili peppers like it’s nothing, level 5 will not be hot for you. Although, if you are sensitive to heat, you may want to start at mild.

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 are 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.

Curry Powder
3.0oz (85g)
Amazon
$11.17 (2 pack)
($5.58 each)
Curry Powder
3.0oz (85g)
Amazon
$5.90 (1 pack)
($5.90 each)
Curry Powder
3
.0oz (85g)
Tokyo Central
$4.28 each
Pricing is subject to change.

For the Japanese, There Is No Karē Raisu Without the Rice.

Photo Description: Nishiki premium grade microwavable steamed rice.
This is the epitome of laziness and convenience, instant steamed rice.

Nishiki Premium Grade Rice

Medium grain rice, gluten free, vegan, non GMO, and can be stored at room temperature. Microwavable cooked rice. Ready in 1 min. 30 sec! Product of U.S.A.

Microwable
Steamed Rice

7.4oz (210g)
Amazon
$16.09 (6 pack)
($2.68 each)
Microwable
Steamed

Brown Rice
7.4oz (210g)
Amazon
$13.74 (6 pack)
($2.29 each)
Microwable
Steamed

Brown Rice
7.4oz (210g)
Target
$2.29 (1 pack)
($2.29 each)
Microwable
Steamed Rice

7.4oz (210g)
Tokyo Central
$1.78 per serving
($1.78 each)
Microwable
Steamed Rice

7.4oz (210g)
Walmart
$8.49 (1 pack?)
($8.49 each)
Microwable
Steamed Rice

7.4oz (210g)
Yummy Bazaar
$2.95 (1 pack)
($2.95 each)
Pricing is subject to change.

Where to buy Japanese Food Products

Japanese markets in SoCal
Buy online

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