On Sunday we went up a mountain, and on the way down used the iPhone to find first a cafe, for coffee, and then this place:
It is Orion and it is apparently the only Kanazawa-style curry restaurant in Hokkaido. Kanazawa curry? What's Kanazawa curry I hear you ask? It's the way they eat curry in Kanazawa city in Ishikawa-ken of course, which is like this:
Now, if you are familiar with basic Japanese-style curry, you may be looking at that and thinking... well... that doesn't look all that different from any other curry. But you are WRONG. SO WRONG. And here is a bullet-pointed list why you are so wrong:
Allow me to roughly translate these points, which set Kanazawa style curry apart from the dross they serve in the rest of the country:
- Served in a stainless steel dish
- Served with shredded cabbage
- You can't see the rice (my note: because it's hidden under the curry, not because it's invisible)
- The topping (i.e. the meat) is served on top of the curry (as opposed to the other way round)
- The katsu (cutlet) has Worcester sauce on it
- The curry is thicker and richer.
And then to the right of that is the stuff which I thought really defined the difference between Kanazawa curry and regular Japanese curry, which is that you mix the cabbage in with the curry and more importantly that you add mayonnaise to the curry and mix that in too. Now that's an interesting (if in terms of Japanese cuisine, not unusual) variation - adding mayo to your curry. But the bullet points seemed to be, really, trying too hard. I'm sure many purists would disagree, but when you're emphasising the serving-ware, the cutlery, and the layering order of the food, you're kind of reaching.
And to be honest in the end the curry wasn't all that different from other Japanese curries. It was like curry+ or curry with a twist. What it also was though, was delicious and that's the most important thing! It was rich and thick, the tonkatsu was crisp and good, the Worcester sauce was only a little thing, but it added to it too, and I could dig the mayo concept. It was a satisfying, hearty meal and I'd recommend it to any fan of Japanese curry. You're also encouraged to add as many toppings as you feel like to the curry, and the place has a whole other half-a-menu devoted to potato noodles and pasta if that's what you feel like.
I'm a huge fan of B-gourmet (simple, cheap food done really well) and I'd say that this place is something like that. I dug it and I'd recommend it to anyone in the area. Oh, coz it's in Fushimi, pretty far out towards the mountains in the South-West of Sapporo. Car or streetcar would be the best way to get there. Check it out on the map here.