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Curry the Irish way (it’s full of Guinness)

by J.J. O'Donoghue

Almost 20 years ago there appeared on The New York Times best-seller list a book titled “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” To most Irish people this benign feat was not news. Irish curry, on the other hand should be. It’s almost as outlandish as Irish sushi.

The curry made at Irish Curry (that’s the name of the restaurant) is, in fact, the classic Japanese curry and rice dish (adapted many moons ago from an Indian curry recipe introduced by the British), but with one not-so-secret ingredient: Guinness. This is a rich, seductive, aromatic curry, and, like the famous pint, it’s as satisfying as it is filling.

In a manner of speaking — and eating — Irish Curry represents some of the best things about Japanese cooking: the ability to adopt and adapt recipes, to augment them. This used to be called “fusion food” in the West before the label was (thankfully) retired. In Japan, it’s more about invention and imagination, and the results can be ingenious (think ramen, whose basis was Chinese soup noodles). And while we’re at it, if you’re going to imbibe a pint of Guinness this far from Ireland, it might best be served in a curry, as Guinness, unlike Ireland’s emigrants, does not fare well after traveling long distances.

While the curry is original, the restaurant is not particularly: It’s the standard flat-pack Irish pub made for export. But you can forgive the twee Irishness for an inspired curry that deserves a wide following. Now, if they could only figure out how to bottle it.

Eito Bldg., 3-6-11 Toyosaki, Kita-ku, Osaka; 06-6375-5527; www.facebook.com/irishcurry2008; open lunch and dinner, closed Sun.; nearest station Nakatsu; no smoking; lunch around ¥800; English menu; no English spoken.