I visited Sapporo and ate soup curry in December, 2015
Winter in Sapporo can be quite cold, even for a Norwegian. There are freezing temperatures, icy winds, snow, ice. It is no wonder that the people here have found food that helps them keep warm during winter.
One of them is soup curry. A curry, but also a soup. A spicy curry broth, boiled potatoes and vegetables, meat or other toppings of your choice. A powerful soup for a cold day. I always say ramen is my favorite Japanese food, my favorite food for that matter, but soup curry is not far behind.
On Christmas Eve I had soup curry for the first time. I doubted I would find any Norwegian christmas dishes in Sapporo, so I opted for a local speciality instead. There are soup curry restaurants everywhere in the city, it is no problem finding one. I went to Garaku, a second floor restaurant that had gotten good reviews online.
I went up the stairs, went inside. Was greeted by a waitress. I held up one finger indicating a table for one, quickly got a seat by the counter. I looked through the menu, they had an English one, and ordered their signature dish and a bowl of rice. A simple order I know now, there is a special way to order soup curry.
When ordering soup curry, you start as I did, ordering a dish. It could be vegetable curry, beef curry, chicken, chicken and beef, or many other versions. But that is not all. You can then adjust the spice level, the standard soup curry is quite mild, if you like it more spicy you should order it spicier. To top it all off you can then add whatever topping you like. Here you can really modify your soup. You like bacon? Add bacon. More chicken? Beef? Mushrooms? Carrots? Egg plant? Add it. Some restaurants have close to fifty toppings to choose from. You can find any meat or vegetable you desire.
My personal favorite was a pork soup curry topped off with bacon and sausages I had in Tokyo. It was delicious.
At last you choose your rice, white or brown, small, medium or large. Getting the whole order right, especially if the waiter speaks little English can be tricky, but it is worth it. Soup curry is really good, and even better when modified to your preferance.
My standard soup curry arrived, I was ready to have my first taste of this Sapporo speciality. It was really good.
The broth was very tasty, real curry flavour, the vegetables, potatoes and chicken perfectly cooked. The chicken so tender it came right off the bone. It could have been a bit spicier, but other than that it was perfect. I enjoyed every last bit of it, washed it down with Sapporo beer. A different christmas eve meal, but to my liking.
As I returned to Tokyo a week later, I was pleased to find several soup curry restaurants in my neighboorhood (Shimokitazawa). During my stay I had soup curry for lunch or dinner several times, and learned to order correctly. My last soup curry in Japan was the best one, the soup pork curry topped with bacon and sausages.