I really, really like Curry Ono, which describes itself as a “Japanese Kitchen” and as providing “healthy, home-made Japanese food”. So it’s not really clear to me why there always seems to be so few people eating there, particularly compared with other places in the market. Partly, I guess, is that the Japanese food it serves isn’t trendy, i.e. no sushi and few noodle dishes. Instead, as the name suggests, it focuses on Japanese versions of curry, which it describes as being based on the curries that British sailors introduced to Japan in the nineteenth century. I guess that part of the problem is that this is a description that is unlikely to get people excited. The only solution is to go there and actually eat the stuff.
The place itself is a bit like a works canteen but not unwelcoming. As mentioned, there’s always plenty of room and you get personal service. There are non-curry starters, and we enjoyed edamame (green soya beans) and seaweed salad. Other starters include tebasaki (sweet soya sauce marinated fried chicken wings) and niku-jaga (slow cooked pork belly with potatoes in a sweet soya sauce).
But the mains are what it is really about, with nine different sorts of curry. All of them come with steamed rice, pickles and the same deeply flavoured but relatively mild curry sauce that we are told has been made from a mix of up to 20 different natural spices and has been simmered for more than 12 hours to provide “a truly authentic taste of Japan”. We’ve had the katsu (breaded pork escalope), the menchi katsu (breaded minced beef croquette) and the kara-age (Japanese fried chicken) and enjoyed them all. Other choices available include roast vegetable and prawn, with the latter being an exception in that it also comes with yuzo-koshu (Japanese chilli paste). The only real non-curry option is cold udon noodle, which is a favourite of mine, particularly when served with seaweed salad. Desserts are limited to a choice between green tea, red bean and vanilla ice creams.
The prices are reasonable compared with other places in the market. And unlike the places in Brixton Village it is fully licensed. I will keep going back and urge other people to go there, if only to ensure that it stays open.