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Coco Ichibanya spices things up with Japanese curry in India

The entrance to the CoCo Ichibanya Japanese curry chain restaurant in Gurugram. (AFP)
The entrance to the CoCo Ichibanya Japanese curry chain restaurant in Gurugram. (AFP)
On its opening day, there was a queue in front of the outlet during lunch hour. (Supplied)
On its opening day, there was a queue in front of the outlet during lunch hour. (Supplied)
In the initial days, the restaurant had mostly Japanese customers. (AFP)
In the initial days, the restaurant had mostly Japanese customers. (AFP)
A customer (right) places his food order by using his cellphone. (AFP)
A customer (right) places his food order by using his cellphone. (AFP)
A lot of Indians too visit the restaurant and relish the Japanese food. (AFP)
A lot of Indians too visit the restaurant and relish the Japanese food. (AFP)
A chef shows a curry made for a customer.
A chef shows a curry made for a customer.
The new outlet is serving curry with Japanese sticky rice to maintain authenticity. (Supplied)
The new outlet is serving curry with Japanese sticky rice to maintain authenticity. (Supplied)
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22 Sep 2020 11:09:07 GMT9
22 Sep 2020 11:09:07 GMT9

Clareto Monsorate, Dubai

With more than 1300 branches in Japan and about 180 internationally, a curry house by the name of CoCo Ichibanya specializes in Japanese-style curry rice.

Operated by Ichibanya Co Ltd, the company in August tapped into the Indian market, which has a population of over 1.3 billion people, the second largest in the world.

Speaking to Arab News Japan, Ichibanya India’s CEO Prasenjit Adhikari said the response to the new restaurant was “fairly good.”

“We are currently operating with 50 per cent seating capacity following COVID-19 norms,” he added.

On its opening day, there were 128 guests and a queue in front of the outlet during lunch hour. “In the initial days, we had mostly Japanese customers, but now there is a steady increase of Indian customers as well,” Adhikari said.

Gurugram, the city where Ichibanya India is located, and which is close to the New Delhi, is a hub for several multinational companies, where nearly 2,500 Japanese nationals live.

The halal-friendly Japanese chain is planning to open more outlets.

“We have plans for 30 shops over the next 10 years,” the CEO revealed.

“In India, foodies are split into two major groups — vegetarian (60%) and non-vegetarian (40%),” he said. “At Coco Ichi, we have very good options for both.”

Vegetarians can start the week with spinach paneer curry, followed by melty cheese curry. They can also try the premium veg curry or veg momo curry or a mushroom curry.

“We give the best mix and match options,” Adhikari said. “Non-vegetarians can enjoy from our long list of options like our stewed chicken curry, mixed sea food curry, or mutton keema curry.”

Customers can also try a wide variety of toppings, like cheese croquette, chicken cutlet or shrimp cutlet, fried fish or fried shrimps in Japanese style.

“Foodies will enjoy such combinations in a single platter,” he added. “Our wide variety of omelette curries is another attractive element, and this will be a new and exciting entry for Indians.”

The new outlet is serving curry with Japanese sticky rice to maintain authenticity. In the curry, it offers a wide range of spices — from mild and standard to levels 1 to 10 to match the taste buds.

“Spicy food lovers can have fun taking up the challenge when they eat together,” he said. “And we will be serving the food pretty fast (in seven minutes) and try to make our customers happy when they are hungry.”

The story of CoCoIchibanya began in 1974, a small coffee shop was being operated in Nagoya, a quiet city in Japan’s Chubu region, and the capital of Aichi Prefecture.

Founded by Tokuji Munetsugu and his wife Naomi, the shop was renowned for its curry and rice that customers raved about.

However, the couple were not happy with the curry sauce that was served. So they decided to work on it and create a perfect dish.

Four years later, they set up their first outlet, the Curry House CoCo Ichibanya. And there seems to be no looking back now.

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