In the heart of Tokyo lies one of the most bustling cities in the entire world called Shinjuku. For the six years I worked in Shinjuku, I’ve come to learn that Shinjuku really has a lot to offer when it comes to gluten-free.
A couple weeks ago, I discovered this Japanese curry restaurant called Moyan Curry. It’s located about five minutes away from Shinjuku station, and this is what caught my eye.
The sign reads “Gluten-free and very veggie.” Well, allow me to say, you don’t see the word “gluten-free” much in Japan. It is a very rare find since it just hasn’t caught on just yet in this country. I’m hoping it’ll be a different story in a couple years, as we can expect lots and lots of people visiting Japan for the Olympics.
Anyways, what do you do when you see a sign like this? Well, you go in and try their food of course! And that’s exactly what I did.
This is a rather small restaurant with only 22 seats. I loved it the moment I walked in because the place was packed with manga. Just look at this glorious sight.
The place was also packed when I sat down at 1:30, but I was the only customer when I left an hour later. I found further examples of their gluten-free pitch in their menu.
They don’t use flour to thicken the curry as is usually the case for Japanese curry; they rather cook down lots and lots of vegetables to create the thick curry texture with generous amounts and varieties of spices and herbs.
Chicken is my favorite meat of all, so that’s what I ordered. As I waited for my lunch to be served, the waitress came back and told me that the chicken curry actually uses gluten.
Umm…excuse me? I thought this place boasted itself for being gluten-free…
Well, at least they told me before I had my first bite, so I guess no harm was done. I ordered their beef curry instead and they assured me that it indeed is gluten-free. Well, let’s just hope so.
And here is their beef curry.
It came with brown rice, which is very rare for curry. But I’m all for brown rice so no complaints there.
Complimentary pickles are offered at the counter to go with your curry, but we as celiacs are probably better stay away from them. It’s very likely that they are glutened.
Steamed potatoes also come with the lunch menu, up to two potatoes per meal. I was assured that these were gluten-free, so go right ahead!
So what did I think of their curry?
What did I think of the restaurant?
Awesome, but! They should be more careful with their claims of being gluten-free. If the sign by the door calls out gluten-free, people will expect the place to be more or less all gluten-free. If not everything is free of gluten, then it should be explicitly indicated somewhere.
So there’s definitely room for improvement, but Moyan Curry is delicious and healthy and it’s become one of my favorite curry places in Japan. In the days following my meal, I didn’t experience any symptoms so I will definitely be going back for more in the near future.
Moyan Curry has a website in English so please check it out if you are interested.