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Dude, where’s my food? – COCO ICHIBAN: the Jovial Journey for Japanese Curry

A friend called me up one afternoon as I was laying in bed cursing my lack of internet and invited me to grab some dinner. I didn’t really care where we were going, I was just looking for any excuse to leave my apartment so I was game for anything. He suggested we get Japanese curry. Now, I’m somewhat familiar with Shenzhen because I had lived here for 10 months a year prior but never had I heard of any place serving Japanese curry, at least not a decent one. My ears perked up and I asked him the name of the place:

“CoCo Ichiban.”

COCO ICHIBAN???

IN SHENZHEN???

WHAAAAT???

I had been to CoCo Ichiban twice in my life, both times at a mall in Hong Kong, and it was quite pricey, even by Hong Kong standards. So you can imagine my enthusiasm when I heard that there were several in Shenzhen, just waiting to take my money. I made my way to Link City in Convention and Exhibition Center and followed the scent of a warm plate of curry.

We arrived and I began shuffling through the menu. Prices were cheaper than Hong Kong for sure, but a little expensive for Shenzhen. I had just spent a small fortune getting settled into my apartment but I didn’t care. I wanted curry like a bear wants honey.

Here’s the concept of CoCo Ichiban:

You choose one dish from a variety of set plates, most of them containing curry, rice, and a type of meat or seafood. There are some vegetarian plates as well for the less adventurous traveler.

 

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So many options… do I wanna eat everything or… EVERYTHING?

Then, if you desire, you can add a variety of different toppings to your dish, each varying in price. Meat toppings are obviously pricier and veggie ones are less so. Toppings can include cheese, corn, mushrooms, clams, eggs, or even an extra hamburger steak, if you’re on a high protein diet. You can also choose how spicy you want your curry, from mild to crazy hot, and how much rice you want with it. CoCo Ichiban’s highly customizable menu is one of the innovations that has made it so popular across East Asia. That, and the hella delicious food.

A few weeks ago in Hong Kong, I opted for the fried fish curry, standard spiciness and standard rice. I also threw in some cheese, a soft boiled egg, and some spinach, ‘cuz I was sorely lacking in iron and, you know, spinach is good for you and stuff, so I’m told.

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If it looks weird, blame the spinach. It was hella good though

The breaking of the yolk is the crowning achievement of your curry masterpiece. Watching that yellow liquid run down the mountain of rice, fish and curry makes me weep witnessing such beauty.

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Nothing better than watching your food drown in a golden egg yolk bath

In Shenzhen, I chose arguably one of their most popular and famous dishes, the deep-fried tonkatsu (pork cutlet) atop omurice (an omelet blanketing a mound of rice). Again, I went with the standard spiciness and standard rice portion. To quench my thirst, I threw in a mango lassi, a mouthwatering concoction of mango puree and yogurt. That may actually have been the best part of the meal.

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Pork cutlet curry and mango lassi. Hell yes

The curry was spiced just right and the egg was cooked still slightly runny, the way I like it. The pork cutlet was a little tough at some points but tender and crisp overall. It worked best when I combined all the flavors onto one heaping spoonful. At about 60 kuai (roughly $9 US) I got a pretty decent and most definitely delicious meal at a place I’ve come to love only after having been there three times in my life. I’d go back again at even the briefest mention of the name.

I went to the one in Link City at Convention and Exhibition Center!

C11, Link City, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, inside Link City near Exit B at the metro station

or

B1F, Coastal City (Haide 1st Rd), Shenzhen, Guangdong, China

 

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