Everyone has that one meal they could happily eat 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. For me, that meal is without a doubt katsu curry. That dreamy combination of fluffy white rice, the slightly sweet curry sauce and crispy panko-encrusted chicken cutlet always hits the spot, perfectly indulgent without feeling excessively unhealthy.
The katsu curry is a perennial favourite in Japan, served up as a comforting midweek meal alongside a variety of delicious pickles known as tsukemono. This commonly includes the classic pink ginger gari slices you often see served with sushi, to the sunny yellow takaun, made from fermented daikon radish.
Although we know it as a Japanese dish, it was originally introduced to Japan by the British in the Meiji era, and takes its inspiration from western style curries, as well as utilising the western technique of deep fried meat. This is perhaps why it’s the most popular Japanese dish in the UK – familiar enough to be comforting while different enough to feel exciting. The abundance of fantastic Japanese restaurants serving up Katsu curries shows that it is a fantastic lunch option for London’s office workers looking for something both hearty and delicious. So here’s our round up of some of the best available through Feedr, from a self-proclaimed katsu curry aficionado.
If you’re looking for a lunch to perk you up, Rainbo is the place for you. Rainbo began life in 2012, founded by a husband and wife team who traveled around London’s best food markets and festivals, selling their homemade gyoza out of a food truck. Over the past decade they’ve grown from a single food truck to establishing three permanent restaurants in London, plus the beloved food truck.
Rainbo’s food focuses on vibrant, colourful lunchtime options, and their katsu is no exception. It’s served alongside a generous helping of soft pink gari, and bright red beni shoga, another ginger pickle made by julienning ginger which is then brined in umezu, a leftover product from making umeboshi, a traditional japanese salted plum. They also serve their katsu with a modern asian slaw, featuring purple cabbage and carrots, making it perfect for those who love to see some colour in their food, and need some veggies to feel satisfied.
Shoryu Ramen prides itself on authenticity, striving to ensure that any food they make is a faithful representation of the traditional cooking that inspired such passion in its founder, Tak Tokumine. Tak has been championing authentic Japanese cuisine for decades, as he founded London’s beloved Japan Food Centre in 1976. The business began as a bookshop for Japanese expats and has exploded into the go-to shop for Japanese products, majorly increasing our access to authentic Japanese cuisine and ingredients such as tsukemono.
Shoryu Ramen takes pride in authenticity as they focus on making the very best tonkatsu ramen, which originates from the Hakata region of Fukuoka City, available outside Japan. Although Tak and Shoryu’s head chef focus on championing this iconic dish of their shared hometown, their passion means that everything that passes through their restaurant doors is treated with the same level of care. As such you can trust their chicken katsu is the genuine article, featuring the chef’s deep and intense specialty curry sauce, and second-to-none pickle selection.
Cha Cha Roll
Although Shoryu Ramen might have the better claim to authenticity, Cha Cha Roll certainly takes the cake for most authentic presentation. Their katsu curry is served up in containers inspired by traditional bento boxes, which are lunchboxes used throughout Japanese history that spawned a complex bento-culture, moving from utility product, to status-symbol all the way to artistic display.
Although Cha Cha Roll’s bento boxes may not feature rice balls carefully shaped to look like our favourite anime characters, they do feature a fantastic katsu curry dish. Packed into bento boxes with four compartments – one for a rounded ball of sticky white rice, another for a selection of salad and two dedicated to the main event. Cha Cha Roll’s boxes feature a modest portion of katsu curry, a single cutlet with a reasonable amount of curry sauce, but they do also come with either a filet of salmon in a teriyaki sauce or panko-encrusted fried prawns, otherwise known as ebi fry.
These additions mean that Cha Cha Roll is certainly serving up the best option for fish-lovers and more adventurous eaters alike. The other bento boxes feature freshwater eel and takoyaki, fried balls which are often filled with minced octopus and tempura scraps, perfect for someone looking to expand their palette away from western-inspiried Japanese cuisine.
Abokado specialise in creating fast, delicious and freshly made food that is cooked from scratch in their London locations each day. They have an extensive menu from breakfast to dinner, featuring a variety of Asian-inspired dishes, including their incredibly popular sushi range. If you want to learn more about their journey check out their vendor spotlight, where we interviewed Mark.
They’re a great option if you’re looking for something quick and delicious to fill you up, especially if you’re looking for something a little different. They have chicken katsu burgers, katsu yakisoba, katsu dragon rolls and a fantastic vegan katsu curry alternative made from vegan chicken goujons. They may not be the most authentic experience, but considering that whatever katsu we eat in the UK is a western take on a japanese take on traditional western food, perhaps that doesn’t matter so much. The important thing about Abokado’s katsu offering is they’ve managed to make sure that there’s something for everyone, no matter what you’re after (as long as it’s katsu).
Looking to find your next go-to katsu order?