CoCo Ichibanya in Kawaramachi, Kyoto
I have been to the Kawaramachi-Sanjo CoCo Ichibanya curry house branch in Kyoto Japan many times, and on each trip, I pay a visit to that particular branch for a lovely Chicken Katsu Curry. The food is always great in this branch, there are others in Kyoto but this is my favourite. The meal is always full of flavour and goes down well with a beer which is what you really need with a curry.
CoCoCo Ichibanya in London
So, I was more than delighted to see that they have opened a branch in London just off Leicester Square in Great Newport Street, and one evening a few weeks ago my Japanese partner and I decided to visit it for a Chicken Katsu Curry, our favourite to see what it was like.
The service was very good, I could not fault that, but, and this is a huge but – they do not serve beer, a curry house! Maybe they either can’t be bothered to apply for an alcohol licence or have been refused one.
Chicken Katsu Curry in London
The chicken itself was perfectly done but the curry sauce should come with a full flavour, it was only around 70% of what it should have been. The heat, which is chilli obviously, was about right as standard but the flavour was way down on what we expected. This was not an authentic CoCo Ichibanya curry as I know it, more of an Anglicised version.
Pauline Bailey as Marilyn Monroe
The place is small, it used to be a Cranks restaurant where years ago I met Marilyn Monroe (actually professional look-a-like Pauline Bailey) to arrange a photo-shoot, but this latest incarnation has not made the best use of the space, too much is given over to the kitchen areas and not enough for tables, a poor design.
Kyoto menu with Yen prices
It was also expensive at £15.07 with the obligatory 12.5% tip included, compared to Kyoto where the same better meal would be just £6.96 and in Japan there is NO tipping anywhere, the price you see is what you pay. Yet people still think Japan is expensive!
CoCo Ichibanya in Kyoto , eating at the counter bar
This is nothing like the experience that we’ve had in Kyoto many times, so I hope they sort this out very soon. We will not be visiting again until we know that things have changed for the better, we’ll give it a year. Then the curry should have the full flavour and also have beer available, just like in Kyoto!