Mi no Ringo’s keema curry is saucy, soul-warming, and spicy - a perfect lunch break on a chilly autumn day in Harajuku.
A broken yolk and melted cheese over keema curry and rice - all you ever need out of life right here. - image © Florentyna Leow
I love curry. In the last two weeks alone, around 8-10 of my meals have included or revolved around curry in one form or another - which, given the sheer variety of curries out there, is not as monotonous as you might think. Harajuku is home to many excellent curry restaurants (such as Mokubaza, which I’ve written about here), and when you’re craving curry, it’s great to have different options for lunch in the area.
You might have to wait if you arrive after noon, but turnover is quick here. - image © Florentyna Leow
Just up the road from the super-crowded Takeshita Street is Mi no Ringo, a little restaurant specializing in keema curry. For a brief explanation of what keema curry is, check out the review of nearby Mokubaza here.
Mi no Ringo was featured in Dancyu’s curry-themed issue in 2010. - image © Florentyna Leow
It’s something of a local gem, having been featured in a number of local food magazines, including Dancyu, one of Japan’s most prominent gourmet publications.
It’s a small but relatively popular restaurant, so don’t linger too long. - image © Florentyna Leow
Mi no Ringo is a one-man operation and has counter seating for just 10 people, so do be willing to dine solo or with a friend rather than as a large group. You’ll also want to drop by relatively early - preferably around or before noon. Still, turnover is pretty fast. A good proportion of diners here are workers on their lunch break, so they’re in and out as soon as they’ve scarfed their curry down. After arriving closer to half past noon, I was seated within 10 minutes (even with a queue of 6 in front of me), and received my curry 10 minutes from placing my order. This is great, because waiting outside while being assailed by the smell of curry is a little torturous.
The most important parts of the menu distilled into this chalkboard. - image © Florentyna Leow
There is a brief English menu on the chalkboard at the back, which makes it relatively easy to order. The keema curry is only medium-spicy, so if you’re looking for something spicier, try their pork curry. Including the cheese topping (an additional JPY200) will add a couple of minutes to service, but you won’t wait long anyway.
The combination platter is not the prettiest plate of curry, but it doesn’t matter here. - image © Florentyna Leow
I ordered the special combination plate to compare both curries. Their chicken curry is on the sweeter side, with a barely perceptible hint of spice, more akin to a tomato stew with chicken chunks in it. It goes well with the salty, stretchy cheese, and it’s not bad, but it’s not what I’m looking for in a curry. What I look for is a sauce that makes my tongue and throat burn a little, just enough to make me sweat and tear up.
The handwritten sign on the wall says that not a single drop of water is added to the chicken curry and keema curry. - image © Florentyna Leow
Happily, Mi no Ringo’s keema curry pushes all those buttons. Their keema curry is what I want, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s what you’ll want too. It’s a different beast from Mokubaza’s keema curry. Where Mokubaza’s is reduced to an almost paste-like intensity, this is more like the kind of filling I want in a Sloppy Joe, or chili con carne. Loose and saucy, and loaded with ground beef and chunks of diced tomatoes, it has a homespun, rustic feel to it. I especially love how the flavors arrive in waves. First you taste the sweetness of onions and tomatoes, and then the warmth of various spices (coriander and cumin, for starters). Finally, the burn from black pepper and chili flakes hits the back of your throat, leaving it tingling. The pink peppercorn atop adds a lovely bite. With the melted cheese and gloriously oozy half-boiled egg, I almost never want to eat another curry in the neighborhood. Almost.
If you like your curry on the saucier, spicier side, hit up Mi no Ringo. Mokubaza’s keema curry might be more photogenic, but Mi no Ringo’s rendition doesn’t lose out in any way.
Mi no Ringo
Name in Japanese:
1F West Building, 1-22-7 Jingumae, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
東京都渋谷区神宮前1-22-7 ウエストビル 1F
Tues~Friday: 11:30～15:00(L.O.) 18:30～21:30 (L.O.)
Weekends and public holidays: 11:30～19:00(L.O.)
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