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Japan’s Curry Juggernaut Coco Ichibanya Announces Second London Restaurant

Coco Ichi will add a Marylebone site to its 1,000 + global portfolio

Cocoichi London adds more katsu curry to Coco Ichibanya’s restaurant portfolio Coco Ichibanya/Facebook

Curry House Coco Ichibanya (CoCoICHI) will open its second London restaurant in Marylebone. It takes over from Jason Atherton’s Social Wine and Tapas at 39 James Street, which closed in June. Coco Ichibanya opened its first restaurant in the city December 2018, on Great Newport Street in Covent Garden.

The restaurant group plans to open two more sites this year, with the captive shopping centre audience on its radar — it already operates over 1,000 restaurants in Japan.

Cocoichibanya serves karē raisu, curry rice, with diners able to customise dishes based on topping, spicing, mildness — referring to the sweetness of the sauce — and rice portion. The three base curries are beef, pork, and hashed beef, as well as a vegetarian sauce option, with customisable heat ranging from “mild” to “level 10.” Tonkatsu and tori katsu are available as toppings, alongside scrambled egg, hamburgers, hamburgers filled with cheese, Frankfurter-style sausages, fried fish, squid, shrimps, cheese, and many other customisable options.

The dish was introduced to Japan in the Meiji era (1868 - 1912), most likely by military officers serving the colonial rule of the British Raj. Therefore perceived as a “western” dish in Japan, it has since been assimilated into Japanese culture and yoshōku cuisine, with the curry and its variations still synonymous with the sociological shifts that took place in the Meiji era; originally served only to upper classes, its domestic popularity grew widespread through the 1960s with the advent of mixes that people could cook at home. Its popularity was also boosted by the Japanese navy, which introduced the karē raisu as a standard dish on ship to prevent beriberi, a thiamine deficiency that became prevalent in Japan owing to the perceived status of eating polished, thiamine-free white rice. Servicemen returned home with a taste for the curry dish, and so its popularity grew further.

The restaurant is expected to open December 2019 / January 2020. More soon.