Japanese curry, one of the country’s comfort food dishes, is something we make at home all of the time. Often using packages of curry roux that now come in a wide variety of flavors and levels of heat.
I am a firm believer in not going out to eat food that can be easily made at home. However, rules are made to be broken, and I will make an exception for the vegetable curry at Spoon near Nishi-Kokubunji station on the JR Chuo Line.
Spoon is a narrow restaurant, like many ramen shops, with a long counter facing an open kitchen. There are nine seats in the shop and yes, you have to pull your seat up as close as you can to the counter when someone passes you. Most Japanese maintain a narrow waistline, can’t imagine a restaurant this small passing fire codes in New York City.
Each time I come back I carefully peruse the menu. Today I considered getting the daily special which was garlic chicken and a soft omelette over the curry. The seasonal deep-fried oysters also called out to me as oysters are finally back in season now that the waters have cooled down. But, I am addicted to the vegetable curry here. It’s something I can’t be bothered to make at home. Nine different vegetables are deep-fried and then artfully placed on the curry. It’s colorful and the vegetables contribute different flavors including sweetness from the sweet potatoes and textures like from the broccoli. With this variety of vegetables I feel like I have gotten met my daily requirement of vegetables. Cream garnishes the curry with the flourishes of a skilled calligrapher. I don’t think the cream adds much flavor to the dish, but it sure makes it pretty. I splurge and ask for it to be topped with a croquette.
The curry here is something I need to try and recreate at home. Much better than any pre-packaged roux. It’s a dark, almost black curry that is layered with flavors. The smell of the curry lingers into the street, which is how we first decided to come into the shop. We noticed that it was very popular. There is a take-out window on the street and it’s not unusual to see someone waiting for their curry-to-go.
If you come, be sure to open up the small pickle pot on the counter. The sweet, red fukujin-zuke pickles are the perfect partner to the dish.
To get to Spoon, exit Nishi-Kokubunji JR station. There is only one exit. Take a right outside of the station and then the first left. Walk down the narrow pedestrian street and it is about the 3rd shop on your left. Note that there is another curry restaurant also called Spoon on the South side of the station, not to be confused with this one.
Kokubunji-shi, Nishi Koigakubo 2-6-3