Japanese curry and rice is a staple food in Japan. The tradition comes from the 1800s when the Japanese navy took on the tradition of the British use of Indian spice. Instead of serving stews with bread, they preferred to eat it with rice. It was then thickened with flour to make it less spillable on the high seas. The taste of Japanese curry is savory, warming and filling but not so spicy like Indian curry. Most curries served in Japan at cafes and restaurants come complete with chunky vegetables and meat, cooked slowly with a roux to thicken and completed with a sweet, red pickled radish accompaniment.
In Hiroshima City, there are a few shops serving their own versions of Japanese curry. Lion Cafe is one such establishment. Opened in 2007, this small, antique wood themed cafe is a charming, retro delight serving Japanese curry. The young couple that run the place are both friendly and down to Earth.
On the menu, there are many wonderful fresh ingredients on offer. Lion Curry Cafe is simple, the staff seem to like to keep things simple and minimal fuss. As a customer, you feel more like a neighbor that has popped in for a bite to eat than a complete stranger.
In fact, the design made me feel like I had been invited into a Hobbit's house as there are many old pieces of twisted wood throughout, with bright colors contrasting one another and small cute decorations. There is a beautiful old piece of wood that holds up the counter which adds a nice organic, rustic feel to the place. The blue molded walls, colorful lampshades and the small accents like the tissue boxes hanging on the wall are charming.
At Lion Cafe, the standard beef curry on is available with a variety of toppings. Curries are made with a combination of over 30 spices and herbs. As the main curry is made with beef, there are not usually any vegetarian versions but they do serve a beautiful tofu salad with the lunch set.
Beef curry starts at a very reasonable ¥550 with the "Lion curry" their most extravagant choice at ¥1,550. It includes beef, vegetables, mushrooms and seafood. Add extra toppings like meat, butter, cheese, garlic, tofu, veggies and more for an extra ¥50-¥100.
- Reservations accepted
- Cash only
- No English menu, Japanese Katakana & Kanji menu
- Seating for 15-18 people
- No parking, but many 100 yen parking places nearby