Is there a more perfect and balanced dish than Hokkaido soup curry? Gloriously comforting even at its most basic — a whole chicken leg floating in a bowl of savory, spice-packed broth, and a rainbow riot of vegetables scattered atop — it is by far the most reliable way of hitting your daily vegetable quota when eating out in Japan. It is also eminently customizable: You can pick your toppings, spice level, amount of rice and even the broth base in some cases, making this the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure meal.
Fortunately, you don’t have to hop on a bullet train to Sapporo for great soup curry. These five, plus a few runner-ups, serve bowls that hold their own with the best of Hokkaido. Whether it’s an explosively spicy broth or a particular fried chicken topping you’re after, you’ll find one worth keeping on your regular restaurant Rolodex.