Back when I was living in Japan, one of my favorite things to eat was Japanese katsu curry, and there was a super popular chain restaurant located just on the other side of the train station closest to my apartment that I would hit up at least a few times a month – shout out to Coco Ichibanya! They’ve actually opened multiple locations in Southern California, but despite my praying to the curry gods, they haven’t expanded to the Bay Area. So in the meantime, I’ve been on the hunt for Japanese curry joints that can satisfy that craving, and I was seriously blown away by Curry Life in San Jose!
While my beloved Coco Ichibanya allows for tons of customizations and add-ons (like cheese, cream croquettes, veggies, sausage, and more) that you can throw on top of whatever base meat you decide to get, Curry Life keeps things ultra simple and just gives you the option to choose your base meat or veggies as well as the spiciness level of your curry. While I was initially a little disappointed that I couldn’t get some melted cheese on top, I was thoroughly impressed by the tonkatsu curry I ordered!
When you first walk in you order from and pay at a little touch screen kiosk. Then you either step outside or grab a table to wait. It appears as though they serve everyone in to-go containers even if you’re eating in, which I assume is for COVID-19 safety, or maybe to cut down on hiring costs. They package each ingredient separately (rice, meat/veggies, and curry), which is great to keep everything fresh, especially if you get katsu.
The katsu was a little thin, but I have to give them props for how well it was prepared. The panko breading was perfectly crispy on the outside, and didn’t fall off the meat when I bit into it. I should have taken a bite before dumping the curry on top to really get a sense of whether or not the meat was dry, but when eaten with the curry and rice, the flavors and textures were amazing.
The curry was bold and thick, but not clumpy, and medium spicy was perfect for me, granted my spice tolerance isn’t very high. If you’re the type of person who prides yourself on eating spicy foods, you’ll probably want to get your curry more spicy.
Definitely give them a shot if you’re down in the South Bay! They also have a location in Santa Clara, which I haven’t been to, but I assume it’s the same quality.