Japanese CoCo Ichibanaya-Style Curry

japanese tofu katsu curry with rice on a oval plate

4.8 from 6 reviews

This Japanese curry is inspired by the iconic, Coco Ichibanaya House Curry. This homemade Japanese curry sauce is savory-sweet, rich and creamy with a rude amount of flavour. Pair with various types of katsu, vegetables and toppings for the ultimate comfort meal!! 


Units Scale


  • 2 large (~600 g) onions
  • 6 tbsp butter (I use Miyokos cultured butter)
  • oil, for frying
  • 1 small (60 g) carrot, grated
  • 1/2 large (120 g) apple, grated*
  • 1/3 (30 g) red bell pepper
  • 100 g plant based bacon or beef (I use Light Life)*
  • 5 cups (1250 ml) + 1 1/2 (375 ml) cups of water, divided
  • 1 tbsp vegan chicken boullion
  • 2 tbsp mango or mixed fruit chutney
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tsp S&B curry powder
  • 1 pack (200 g) curry roux cubes
  • 4 tsp Bull Dog Worcestershire sauce*
  • 2 tsp Bull Dog Fruit & Vegetable Sauce*
  • 2 tsp red miso paste*
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee*
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar, divided
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp white pepper, or to taste
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp togarashi or cayenne, to taste
  • 4 tsp dark soy sauce, optional

Protein / Vegetable Add-on


  • rice
  • fukushinzuke
  • ryakyo (pickled scallion bulb)


  1. Slice off the stem ends of the onion. Cut the onion in half from the root end. Remove outer layer of the onions. Thinly slice the onions, root to tip. About 300-325 g will be caramelized, 120 g will be fried, and 30 g added to the pot.
  2. Add oil to a small pot about one inch high over high heat. Add 120 grams of the thinly sliced onions and fry until slightly past golden brown. Immediately transfer to a bowl and set aside. Reserve the cooking oil. 
    • you may also skip frying the onions and use 2-3 tbsp (30 g) of store bought fried onions.
  3. Add 2 tbsp of butter to a medium stainless steel pan (or large heavy-bottomed pot) over medium heat until melted. Add 300 grams of the thinly sliced onions and stir until softened and become translucent. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook, stirring every few minutes to prevent them from sticking. Continue this process for 35-45 minutes until caramelized and maintains a jam-like consistency. If at any point it begins to burn, add a splash of water to deglaze the pan. If you're pressed for time, see tip in the blogpost on how to caramelize onions quicker (15 minutes).
  4. Add the grated carrots and apples and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Add one cup of water and scrape off any remaining bits from the caramelized onions (don't let that flavour go to waste!!) and set that aside. 
  5. Roast the pepper over a gas stove until charred. Slice and remove the seeds and set aside. You will only need 1/3 of the bell pepper (roughly 30 g). 
  6. To a large pot, add 1 tbsp of oil from the oil we used to fry the onions. Add the vegan bacon and remaining 30 g of onions. Fry for 3-5 minutes. 
    • *if you are starting off with a heavy-bottomed pot, cook the bacon and remaining onions in the pot and add all the water. 
  7. Add the water from the pan we used to caramelize the onions. Add remaining 4 cups of water (or vegetable broth) and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the vegan chicken boullion, caramelized onions, fried onions and roasted bell pepper. Add peanut butter, mixed fruit chutney and curry powder. Use an immersion blender and blend until smooth.
  8. Optional step: if you prefer a smoother consistency, strain using a fine mesh sieve.
  9. Cut the roux into small pieces. Add the cut up roux into a ladle and dissolve it into the curry using chopsticks. 
  10. Add in remaining 4 tbsp of butter, Worcestershire sauce, Fruit & Vegetable Sauce, miso paste, instant coffee, 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar, salt, white pepper and togarashi (or cayenne) to finish. Let it simmer over low for 5 minutes. 
  11. Remove from heat. Once it cools down, transfer to an air tight container and let it rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. 
  12. Add the curry back to a pot with the remaining water over medium. Mix in the dark soy sauce and 1/2 tbsp vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning and spice level to your liking. Adjust consistency to your liking by adding more water to thin it out if desired. 
  13. Serve with rice, protein or vegetable add-on, fukushinzuke and ryakyo or keep in the fridge covered overnight– it will taste even better the next day.


  • *Because there are quite a bit of ingredients that go into this recipe, please refer to the blogpost for any ingredient substitutions with a * beside it. 
  • Nutritional Information Disclaimer: Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated on an online tool (Cronometer). 


Keywords: japanese curry, coco ichibanaya curry, katsu curry