You always remember your first curry. Well, maybe not. But I do remember the first time I ate a good Japanese curry, after stumbling across Tabaccoya nearly six years ago. It was the first Japanese curry I had eaten with a complimentary mix of sweet and spicy, and all folded into a deep, gravy-like roux.
Curry is a great fast food — Japan’s supermarket selection of instant options can be good when you’re pressed for time. But, curry is best enjoyed slowly. Letting the ingredients percolate, for want of a better word, can produce wonderful results.
The curry pot at Tabaccoya is on a slow boil throughout the day, with ingredients continually being fed into it.
Little had changed when I returned: it was just as dark and “intimate” as I remembered. This is a counter only joint; if the person at the back gets up to leave, everybody has to get up.
The curry here is sweet, but the strong presence of sanshō (pepper) gives it an edge — and there’s also a dash of Mexican hot sauce in there. Tobaccoya does a great, deceivingly simple Japanese curry. There’s no long lines outside the door as with some other better-known curry joints in Osaka, and equally there’s no rush to push you out the door either. Just like the curry, you can take your time.
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