JAPAN’S most popular curry chain is coming to the UK for the first time – and fans in-the-know are going wild.
Coco Ichibanya is famous for its curry rice dishes, including katsu, and the first branch will open in London tomorrow with big queues expected.
The chain has more than 1,200 restaurants in Japan and another 150 across south-east Asia and the US.
Its London restaurant is in Covent Garden’s Great Newport Street, and it’s opening tomorrow at 12pm.
Coco Ichibanya’s signature dish is curry sauce and rice called “kare raisu,” which customers can customise with different toppings and by tweaking the sweetness and spice levels.
Some of its topping options will be familiar to diners in the UK, such as panko breadcumb-coated chicken or pork, but others will seem a bit bonkers if you’re not used to Japanese curries.
As well as suggesting beef, pork or chicken, the chain also allows customers to order its signature curry rice dish with scrambled eggs, a beef hamburger, fermented soy beans called natto, or even fried oysters.
Coco Ichi, as it’s known to fans, is most famous for letting you customise your Japanese-style curry dish however you want.
To order, you first have to pick a curry sauce: pork, beef, beef stew, or a vegetarian alternative.
Each sauce base comes with 300g of rice as standard, though you can request more or less.
You then choose your spice level, which ranges from 1 – the mildest – up to a fiery 10. You only pay if you want to make your curry spicier than the “base” level.
Diners can also pick their “mildness” level which refers to sweetness, with 1 being the least and 5 the most.
You can then add as many toppings as you like.
In Japan, the chain charges for each individual element, including adding extra spice and mildness.
But the restaurant has not yet released its prices for the UK, with the website for the London branch still saying it’s “coming to London soon”.
You can expect to pay the same as in the US though, which charges £8.98 ($11.24) for its pork and chicken curry rice dishes, or £7.82 ($9.79) for its vegetarian curry.
If you don’t fancy curry and rice, other dishes are available on the menu, including a set meal for children, salads, udon noodle broths, and boxes of breadcrumb-coated fried chicken.
Fans who have visited the restaurant’s branches abroad are very excited for the chain’s London opening.
One wrote: “Need to find people to suffer the queues with me!”
When popular Japanese ramen restaurant Kanada-Ya first opened in London in 2014, queues snaked around buildings – so similar lines may form for Coco Ichi’s opening tomorrow.
The curry house chain’s opening comes after Asia’s answer to KFC Jollibee arrived in London in October, with some bizarre dishes on the menu.
Eighteen-hour queues formed for the chain’s first day, with some saying they were as happy as the day their kids were born now that the restaurant is in London.
Meanwhile, the world’s best restaurants have been named by TripAdvisor, and there’s a British one in the top four.
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