Is there a more perfect and balanced dish than Hokkaido soup curry? Gloriously comforting even at its most basic — a whole chicken leg floating in a bowl of savory, spice-packed broth, and a rainbow riot of vegetables scattered atop — it is by far the most reliable way of hitting your daily vegetable quota when eating out in Japan. It is also eminently customizable: You can pick your toppings, spice level, amount of rice and even the broth base in some cases, making this the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure meal.
Fortunately, you don’t have to hop on a bullet train to Sapporo for great soup curry. These five, plus a few runner-ups, serve bowls that hold their own with the best of Hokkaido. Whether it’s an explosively spicy broth or a particular fried chicken topping you’re after, you’ll find one worth keeping on your regular restaurant Rolodex.
A word to the wise: though soup curry is fantastic for vegetable lovers, its broth typically contains meat or fish, and is invariably neither vegan nor vegetarian. For now, those on fully plant-based diets are out of luck.
Okushiba Shoten Hachioji Tashirojo
With not one but two branches in Hachioji (the other is near Keio-Katakura Station), Okushiba Shoten is perhaps the city’s worst-kept soup curry secret. Weekend queues are par for the course. Once you sit down, expect to wait anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, as each bowl is made to order with a precise combination of freshly toasted spices.