Make Japanese vegetable curry rice today! With sweet and savory flavors, this veggie packed dinner is kid friendly and so tasty everyone will be asking for seconds! Ready in just under 1 hour. 

Japanese Vegetable Curry Rice

Japanese curry is one of my favorite comfort foods of all time. I love the thick brown sauce similar to a demi-glace, the mix of classic curry spices, and the addition of fruit.

Making Japanese curry from scratch can be a bit of a headache but the good news is you can buy excellent pre-made curry roux to use instead. I’m not going to lie t0 you – 95% of my homemade Japanese curries are made using pre-made curry roux. Also, I’ve never seen a Japanese person make curry from scratch, they all use the method that I’m about to show you.

Once you make it this way it’s hard to go back to making it from scratch! Not only does it taste just as good but it takes minimal prepping and you can have it ready for dinner in just under an hour!

grated garlic and ginger

Coco Ichibanya

Coco Ichibanya is a famous chain of Japanese restaurants serving kare raisu (Japanese for curry rice). What makes this particular chain unique is that you can customize your own curry by choosing the level of heat, flavor intensity, rice portion, ingredients, and toppings of your choice.

Everytime I go to Coco Ichibanya I order the eggplant curry because I love the way the eggplant is prepared – super tender on the inside and perfectly charred on the outside. And though I love spicy food, I like to keep my eggplant curry to a level 1 (teeny bit spicy) because I enjoy tasting every sweet and savory bite I take without any numbing feeling.

The last time I had it was a few months ago in Los Angeles, the only place where you can find Coco Ichibanya in the US.

The recipe I have for you today is very similar to their eggplant curry except that my version contains a lot more vegetables.

sliced onion cooking

Ingredients for Japanese Vegetable Curry (カレ-ライス)

  • Oil: 1 tablespoon is all you need to start the pot. Choose a neutral oil such as vegetable, corn, or grapeseed.
  • Fresh Ginger: About a thumb size is what I use to add a little heat, but feel free to add more if you love ginger!
  • Apple: Use your favorite apple for this recipe. I like Honeycrisp because it’s both sweet and tangy.
  • Onion: A large onion to add even more sweetness and depth of flavor to the curry.
  • Water: You will need 5 cups of water for this curry recipe.
  • Carrot: I’m using 1 large carrot, roughly chopped, but you can use more or less. As far as veggies are concerned here, add your own favorites, these are just suggestions. Curry goes really well with mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, and so many other vegetables!
  • Potato: Potatoes are one of my favorite things to eat in a curry because they absorb flavor so well. You can use any type of potatoes, even the red ones.
  • Green Beans: Make sure you trim the ends and remove the stringy part! I once forgot to do so and it ruined the dish.
  • Eggplant: Japanese or Chinese eggplant are the best options because the seeds are small and they tend to taste less bitter.
  • Cherry Tomato: For a pop of freshness and color.
  • Japanese Curry Roux: There are so many options here! You can go mild or spicy, more savory than sweet, more sweet than savory, etc… Scroll down to see what options are available.
  • Cooked Japanese Rice: Short grain Japanese rice is a must for this recipe. Brands like Botan Calrose and Kokuho are medium grain, not short grain, so it’s good to shop around a little to make sure you are getting the best type of Japanese rice. My favorite brand is Tamanishiki. Watch my video on how to cook Japanese rice perfectly every time below!
potatoes carrots and green beans

Choosing a Curry Sauce Mix That’s Right for You

With so many types of curry sauce mix available, it can be hard to pick one that suits your palate. Here’s a quick list to help you decide on which type to get for your kare raisu dinner.

S&B Golden Curry

The oldest and most iconic curry brand, S&B was the first company to manufacture curry powder in Japan, back in 1923. While newer brands use fruits to season their roux, Golden Curry doesn’t contain any. The flavor is pretty basic, devoid of sweetness and the texture is more watery than rich. If you are more old school, prefer something mild and not crazy flavorful, this is the roux for you.

S&B Torokeru

Torokeru is a well rounded curry sauce mix that’s both sweet and savory. The texture is rich but not so rich that it feels heavy and pasty. It’s a favorite among many curry fanatics because it satisfies on all sides.

Vermont Curry

Vermont Curry takes me back to my childhood because it’s the sweetest curry roux out of all the brands. And that’s because it contains quite a few sweet ingredients: apples, bananas, honey, and sugar. I personally really enjoy Vermont Curry, it was the only brand I used for years until I discovered Java Curry (my new favorite). If you have a sweet tooth, this is the curry roux for you.

House Java Curry

My favorite!

I love Java Curry because of its strong sweet and savory taste. The spice level is also quite aggressive compared to other brands where you can barely taste anything.

Keep in mind that even though the level of heat is noticeable, it’s still not very spicy. The reason being that Japanese people in general cannot handle spicy food so don’t expect something like Sichuan food! It’s more like the equivalent of a squirt of sriracha sauce. This is probably the only brand where you can actually taste the difference in heat between the mild and hot versions.

House Kokumaru

Just like Java Curry, Kokumaru has assertive flavors and a decent level of spice. It’s on the sweeter side and has a thinner texture than Vermont Curry.

java curry roux

How To Make Japanese Vegetable Curry

  1. Place the chopped eggplant in a bowl and submerge with cold water. Leave for 15 minutes. This will remove some of the bitterness.
  2. Cook the grated apple and ginger in a little oil for a few minute in a pot over medium heat.
  3. Add the onion and cook until the pieces are soft and translucent – about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the water, carrot, potatoes, and green beans, and stir. Bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, drain the eggplant and pat dry with a paper towel. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large pan, turn the heat to medium high and when the oil is hot, add the eggplant. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until golden and tender. Turn the heat off and transfer the eggplant to a plate covered with paper towel. Set aside.
  6. Break the curry roux blocks and add them to the pot of boiling vegetables. Stir until the roux has melted, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. When there’s 10 minutes left to the cooking process, open the lid and add the eggplant and cherry tomatoes. Put the lid back on and simmer for the remaining 1o minutes.
  8. Serve with cooked Japanese rice and fukujinzuke (Japanese relish).
making japanese kare raisu

Is This Japanese Curry Vegan?

No since the Java Curry roux contains milk.

Use S&B Golden Curry to make a vegan version. I think it’s the only curry sauce mix that’s vegan, though I’m not completely sure. Please let me know in the comment section if you have more information on that. 🙂

What to Serve with Japanese Vegetable Curry

Since we are pretending to be eating Coco Ichibanya’s curry, here are some side dishes that are also similar to the ones they have on their menu:

Coco Ichibanya-Style Vegetable Curry Rice Japanese Vegetable Curry Rice

Did you like this Japanese Coco Ichibanya-Style Vegetable Curry Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!

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Japanese Coco Ichibanya-Style Vegetable Curry

vegetable curry rice

Make Japanese vegetable curry today! With sweet and savory flavors, this veggie packed dinner is kid friendly and so tasty everyone will be asking for seconds! Ready in just under 1 hour. 

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Curry
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Japanese
  • Diet: Vegetarian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 thumb size fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 apple such as Honeycrisp, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup green beans, ends trimmed and stringy part removed
  • 1 Japanese or Chinese eggplant, chopped
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 box Japanese curry roux mix (I’m using Java Curry)
  • Cooked Japanese short grain rice

Instructions

  1. Submerge the chopped eggplant in cold water and leave for 15 minutes. This will remove some of the bitterness.
  2. In a large pot over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, grated ginger and apple. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes, or until the slices have softened and are translucent.
  4. Add water and stir. Add carrot, potatoes, and green beans and stir. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Drain the eggplant and pat dry with a paper towel. In a large pan over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and when the oil is hot, add the eggplant. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until golden and tender. Turn the heat off and transfer to a plate covered with paper towel. Set aside.
  6. Break the curry roux and stir it into the pot until it’s completely melted.
  7. When there’s 10 minutes left to the cooking process, open the lid and add the eggplant and cherry tomatoes. Put the lid back on and simmer for the remaining 1o minutes.
  8. Serve with fukujinzuke (Japanese relish) and cooked Japanese rice. 

Notes

Keep the leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container. It will keep for up to 5 days.

You can also freeze it in individual Ziploc bags for up to 1 month.

Keywords: main, stew, vegan, vegetarian

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