Curry House Coco Ichibanya (Irvine) - Interrupt

>> Sunday, February 5, 2012

Date of Dining: 11/23/2011
Price: $8-15 per plate
Location: 2710 Alton Parkway Ste A-115, Irvine, CA 92606

The Quick Bit:
+ Famous Curry House invades Southern California
+ Many customization options
+ Higher than expected level of technical execution
Δ Plethora of menu options can be confusing

For Japanese curry lovers, the legend of Coco Ichibanya in the US was almost like Captain Ahab's white whale as it required a journey to Hawaii to sample curry from the Japanese Juggernaut. Despite developing a global presence including more than 1200 restaurants in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea, Coco Ichibanya had remained a relative unknown to the United States with its only branch located in Hawaii. Starting earlier this year, Coco Ichibanya began increasing their presence in the continental United States with locations in Torrance, Rowland Heights, and Irvine.
Coco Ichibanya is known for the high level of service provided in every restaurant along with the highly customizable curry dishes. Everything from the spice level to the quantity of rice to the toppings and the curry can be customized in the curry dishes. The spice level is especially noteworthy as many Japanese curries tend to be on the very mild side. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Coco Ichibanya's spice levels adjust up the scale pretty quickly.
beef curry with spinach, mushrooms, and less rice
The first dish that arrived was a mixture of beef, mushrooms, and spinach in the curry. The beef was cooked exactly right, and the other toppings added earthiness to the curry. The addition of the toppings added a great depth to the curry, that sometimes otherwise feel decidedly one note. With the extra flavors, not only was the dish more diverse, the textural elements were improved as well. Overall, it was one of the better Japanese curries I've tasted as the technical execution of the dish was at a very high level.
pork katsu curry with vegetables
One of the "signature dish" curries, I ordered this dish to gauge the level of cooking and serve as a comparison to other curry places. The pork was cooked extremely well as it was not touch and it managed to retain much of the moistness. I was pleasantly surprised with the execution as the pork cutlet was cooked perfectly and I couldn't find any fault with it. The accompanying curry was spicy as requested and contained all the customization I ordered. I was very satisfied with the finished product and would rate this particular cutlet as one of the best I've had.

Overall I was very impressed with Coco Ichibanya being a curry house. The level of execution in cooking the proteins is high, and being able to customized the curry to however you like was actually very enjoyable once you figured out what was happening. Being able to actually make the curry spicy was another big plus. For anyone wanting to try Japanese curry in Irvine, I can recommended Coco Ichibanya as a fine stop to satisfy the craving.


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
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