Kobe Eats: 64 Curry ロクヨンカレー

What do you think of when someone says "Japanese food"? Sushi and miso soup probably. Different kinds of noodles and rice for sure. While all these things are critical to Japanese food culture, one of the biggest food crazes to sweep across Japan is something a little more foreign. It's curry, specifically spice curry スパイスカレー.  Most people will eat a huge plate of Japanese curry at some point in their stay here. The dark brown gravy flecked with bits of meat and vegetables is well loved in this country. But while the typical Japanese curry rice was introduced to Japan by way of Britain, spice curry comes directly from South Asia. In the last year or two it seems that almost every new cafe in Osaka is serving this riff on Sri Lankan and Indian curries. People are lining up outside for up to an hour to get a chance to eat at some of the more popular restaurants and these places often sell out in a few hours. There are magazines devoted to different curry restaurants around different cities. 

Well if you haven't tried spice curry yet, you're probably asking what is it. It's a typically a blend of two or more highly aromatic curries on one plate divided by a huge portion of rice. There will usually be some cubed potatoes and a chutney or two. Cilantro gets thrown on top of it a lot and if you're lucky the place will have a huge spiced egg on top. Every place has their own recipe and toppings and often they have a curry of the day or week. 

In Osaka, you can throw a rock and probably hit a restaurant that serves curry, but it's been a bit harder for me to find these places in Kobe. I was flipping through the latest edition of Kobe Hon 神戸本, a magazine dedicated to restaurants in Kobe, when I saw the entry about 64 Curry pronounced roku-yon ロクヨンカレー. Located in the shotengai 商店街 right next to Motomachi station 元町駅, it fits right in with slightly rock-a-billy vintage vibes I get from a lot of the other shops around. It's a 7 seat restaurant so be prepared to for a tight squeeze. They have two different permanent curries, a pork keema curry and a chicken coconut milk curry. The popular thing to do is order them both, or aigake あいがけ. They also a have combo plate with two different weekly specials. For an extra price, they have turmeric rice. Josh got the 64 pork keema curry with turmeric rice and I ordered the weekly special which was a chickpea curry on one side and a thai inspired tuna and eggplant curry on the other. All of their curries are actually spicy, which came as a big shock to both of us. It was great, but the staff were laughing at us a bit about how much water we were drinking. The keema curry was a bit sweet, but deeply spiced. The heat level built up the more we ate it. I think if you were very hungry, just the one curry wouldn't fill you up. Josh ended up eating a decent portion of mine as well as his. My plate was the bomb-dot-com. Both curries were so rich and flavorful and I was surprised by how much I loved the thai curry. I'm not the biggest fan of fish, but the tuna was melt in your mouth tender and was such a good addition to the red curry. There were cumin seed fried potatoes and sautéed spinach on the side. The curry plate was topped with a vegetable chutney, thinly sliced red onions, and a healthy amount of cilantro. 

The owners were pretty friendly. I had just had a negative experience at a restaurant where some of the customers and staff kept talking negatively about foreigners so I was a little worried about walking into such a tiny place, but the two guys put us at ease pretty quickly. The prices here are also much friendlier on the wallet than similar restaurants in Osaka. My huge plate of curry only set me back 850 yen. 

Name: 64 Curry ロクヨンカレー

Number: 078-381-5649

Address: 2-150 Motomachikokadori, Chuo-ku, Kobe 650-0014, Hyogo Prefecture

兵庫県神戸市中央区元町高架通2-150

Website: http://64curry.web.fc2.com/

English: No English menu, but the staff spoke some English. 

Kobe Eats: Le Boozy ルブージー

Heeyyy there. It's been a minute ( I feel like I'm writing this on every blog post now). My new job leaves me with very little spare time outside of eating, showering, and sleeping which means my desire to do long, well-thought out posts does not mesh well with my actual life. And truthfully I'm sitting on a lot of pictures and posts because I feel that I need perfectly edited pictures and a ton of information which stresses me out and then you all don't get to know about restaurants or favorite little spots I go to all of the time. So while I do hope to eventually make some in-depth city guides of places I frequent, I'm going to start doing short restaurant and cafe reviews simply titled (place name) Eats. You guys will get the information faster and I won't be having an aneurysm if I didn't order everything on the menu. 

First up in my Kobe Eats series will be Le Boozy ルブージー located near Sannomiya 三宮 area off of Flower Road. I saw this place on Instagram a few weeks ago and immediately bookmarked the picture of a mound of pancakes topped with sausage and bacon. I still long for the days of when I lived close(ish) to Westwood Bakers in Horie 堀江 and their eggs and bacon pancakes. When Josh woke up and realized we had 0 anything for breakfast, he quickly agreed to go when he saw the meat. That man will do anything for meat (any and all jokes welcome). 

Le Boozy is a rare find in this country. It opens for breakfast at 9:00 a.m. on weekends. This will mean nothing to you Americans who get to go to diners 24 hours a day and can get donuts at 6 in the morning, but to the early-breakfast starved foreigners in Japan, this is our place. We can eat bacon before 11 a.m. here. 

The interior is extremely cozy and well-done. The server told us they were going for a Boston restaurant feel and while I have no idea what that would look like, this place would be perfectly at home in a foreign country. The open kitchen lets you see what the chef is doing and he'll come by and chat with you about the food. And man that food. That food was great. The menu has some pretty interesting items for a Japanese restaurant. They have a Cubano キューバサンド and Bahn Miバインミ as well as a Croque Madame and Pancakes. We ordered the pancakes and the croque madame as well as two Americanos. The coffee was just ok. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't award winning. It seems the popular thing for couples to do is order a salad, the pancakes パンケーキ, and the croque madame クロックマダム. We passed on the fruit salad, but otherwise did the standard thing. The server said that as far as volume goes, the croque madame is going to be the biggest sandwich and strongly recommended it. I had asked about the Cubano and she definitely tried to get me away from it, so maybe it's not great?

The pancakes came out first. There were 3 medium sized pancakes just covered in homemade sausage, bacon, fried eggs, and crispy onions. The server set out a huge bottle of maple syrup on the table and I think Josh teared up a little. Again all ya'll in Americaland don't understand the thimble of maple syrup usually given here. As far as pancakes go, Westwood in Osaka still has better tasting pancakes, but this place wins at toppings. And then the croque madame came out and I whimpered a little. Sandwiched between two slices of crispy bread (not shokupan!) was a heavenly mixture of white sauce, chopped ham, cheese, and egg. It was topped with more broiled cheese and served with like a quarter cup of sharp mustard and tiny pickles. I didn't know if I could eat another bite. I don't know if I could stop eating. 

It was difficult to leave. I was full, I had a lap blanket borrowed from the restaurant, and I was so comfortable. I got told that the place has a pretty good dinner menu with steaks and whiskey and we are very tempted to come back soon, like every weekend forever. My only complaint about their brunch is that the drink menu is limited to beer and wine if you want alcohol. Mimosas would have made this place an 11/10. 

Le Boozy is about a 10 minute walk from Sannomiya station and 8 minute walk from Shin-Kobe. There is also a bus stop for city bus 92 that is extremely close for those who don't feel like walking much. Open from 9-12 on weekends and 6-11:30 for dinner. They're closed on Mondays. 

Name: Le Boozy ルブージー

Number: 078-778-9686

Address:〒650-0001, 2 Chome-3-13 Kanocho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture

                  兵庫県神戸市中央区加納町2-3-13 コンフォールびふう 1F

Website: https://www.facebook.com/LE-BOOZY-219613938228062/

English: The menu translated baguette as bucket so I'm going to say no. 

 

A bath to bring good fortune

I was walking home when I saw him. An older man with a worn-out hat, crouching down with a bag of wet leaves. He was carefully folding them in small, tight bundles and displaying them in a white foam cooler. I saw a small handwritten sign with ショウブ 100円 (shobu) written out in clumsy letters. No one seemed to be stopping by and neither did I. I've walked past him almost every day during the Golden Week holidays and wondered what this tired old man was selling, but felt too busy to stop. 

When my 72 seasons app updated yesterday, it changed to When the First Frogs Call and mentioned the seasonal activity for the next few days would be to bathe with iris leaves, or shobu, 菖蒲 on Children's Day こどもの日. As it happened to be Children's Day, Josh and I went back down our shotengai 商店街 to find the man selling his bundles. We picked up two and he gave us one extra (no charge) as a "service" サービス. One thing I love about buying from individuals here is that they'll often give you something extra or round down the change as a service to you for buying locally. He gave me a big smile and I cried a little later thinking about that smile and wishing he didn't have to sell wet leaves on the side of the road for extra money. I noticed on the way back that a few of the florists in our area were selling iris leaves too and I just hadn't noticed them before. 

72 seasons chose a really beautiful haiku for this season. 

Iris bath

the iris leaves gather

around her breasts

I loved the imagery of this woman sliding into a hot bath and the iris leaves rushing forward to cover her as the water ripples away. While I don't have the beautiful cedar tub I pictured in my head, I wanted to recreate this scene as best as possible. As I ran the hot water, I unwrapped the little packets to discover we had been given a few sprigs of mugwort よもぎ along with the shobu to help ward off evil spirits. The steam that wafted into the air took on a pleasant medicinal smell as the mugwort hit the water. I put my head back against the tub and thought about this tradition that Japan has been doing for hundreds of years to protect their children and to send evil fleeing from their homes and I felt a tenuous connection to this history even if I'm not Japanese. 

The hot water felt good even if I'm not sure how completely I banished bad spirits. When I woke up this morning, the US still had a Republican government and had sentenced so many to a life of sickness and death so I guess it didn't work that well. Nothing is going to fix that evil except good work, perseverance, and loud voices. I encourage all of the Americans reading this to join me next week in calling our senators to tell them if they don't vote no on the upcoming health bill we'll be seeing them at the polls in 2018. But in the meantime, if your heart feels heavy and you feel like crying, it's ok to slide into a warm bath and close your eyes. 

If you'd like to read a bit more about the reasoning behind iris leaves and mugwort and some Japanese trivia, this post was informative.