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European Curry Town : BONDY & GAVIAL @ Jinbocho

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

JINBOCHO town, famous for its abundance of second-hand books, also attracts curry rice addicts into dozens of curry specialty restaurants. Although curry is a simple dish, there is a variety of styles in this country. One that has developed is the “European style” curry rice, which is, in fact, unique to Japan.

The other day, I visited the original shop which invented “European style” curry for the first time. BONDY, located on the second floor of a narrow building packed with used book stores, opened in 1973. The then owner had developed his cooking skills in France before opening his restaurant and came up with the idea of adding Demi-glacé sauce to curry and named it “European”.

While this style of curry has become popular around the nation, Bondy keeps its original recipe. There’s always a long queue at the back of the building, which keeps you waiting for one hour, at least. I waited patiently until being ushered into a small hall. Like most visitors, I ordered the signature dish, Beef Curry Rice.

European beef curry was brought to my table with cheese on rice and steamed potatoes. The sauce was very rich, like beef stew, so it's obvious why it was named “European”. At the same time, the sauce was very spicy. The two distinctive tastes combined in one sauce and made it the original. That was worth waiting to know how our nation's favourite dish originated.

Another day, I was back in the town. This time I visited GAVIAL, one of the other curry shops serving “European style”. This restaurant, opened in 1982, is located within 100 yards from Bondy. With a shorter queue, I took a table in a wider and brighter room.

I ordered Beef Curry Rice again. Besides having the basic concept of the European style, rich and spicy in sauce, this dish gave me a more palatable note.

The owner of Gavial claims that he has kept his curry in a pot for 28 years since this shop opened, adding a bit to refresh the sauce day by day. This is the traditional cooking style that Yakitori or Unagi (eel) washoku shops adopt to develop their original “tare” soy sauce. Integrating the Japanese method with “European” style, Gavial has developed its original curry sauce.

There were some common styles between Bondy and Gavial, like serving steamed potatoes on a small dish. It was exciting to find the similarities and differences among restaurants. Jinbocho has a variety of curry sauce in each restaurant. I’m thrilled to keep finding those tastes in every dish.

Tips: How to get to BONDY?

You can't find the entrance to this restaurant at the front. Go around the corner, then there's a bleak corridor and stairs at the back. You'll know you're in the right place because of the long queue spilling out.

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