Saturday, September 6, 2014

Retort Report: House Toro-Uma Gyu-Kakuni Curry And Azabu Juban Beef Curry

House Shokuhin has over twenty different retort pouch curry products on sale at a given time (not including various heat levels of each), and when you include the few that have been discontinued over the years, it's a pretty impressive portfolio. Sharing two from the House today, flexing some of their 40% top share muscle of retort curry sales in Japan (the second S&B at a distant 20%).

The first is the Toro-uma Gyu-kakuni Karee (とろうま牛角煮カレー) that roughly translates to "Melty-Delicious Beef Kakuni Curry"...?
Kakuni, many may know typically as the blocky braised pork belly dish which this series is also available in. The suggested retail price of 284-Yen (~$2.80) makes it a small splurge but nothing over the top.

No room for veggies in this 210-gram packet of meaty goodness, the larger beef pieces that near wiggled in my spoon averaged under an inch in size. These were seriously cray cray tender where the term "melt in your mouth" definitely not a hyperbole. From what I gathered, House had filed a patent on its prep process a few years back.

As for the roux, it didn't seem that different from their standard issue curries. A solid profile as in 'tried and true,' but also expected. The Beef Kakuni that blended into the curry I also felt could've used some other seasoning for added interest. Say, some light sweetness and/or hints of anise maybe to help further highlight.

As long as one doesn't expect too much from the roux's classic Japanese curry flavor, this was definitely an upped joyful experience with all that extra large and tender beef pieces. :) A kakuni curry I've made in the past can be read here.

Next also by House is called the Azabu Juban Beef CurryAzabu Juban is one of many desirable residential neighborhoods of Tokyo and this was created in collaboration with restaurant Grill Manten-Boshi. Here they boast using some original long stewed Demi Glace sauce for extra depth and unctuousness. Perfect time to test out again and maybe conclude my final decision on how I felt about the Demi Glace trend in curries...

As with Shiseido Parlor, the box photo a silver sauce boat status. I can't remember what I paid, but the suggested retail price of 380-yen (~$3.70) is definitely on the higher side. Some ingredients listed were a good quantity of sautéed onions, white roux, chutney, apple juice, Fond de Veau, your demi glace of course and finished off with some red wine amongst all your other usual Japanese curry suspects. This series also has a straight Beef Stew version.

Immediately noticeable was the beef's texture and how equally tender to as the earlier kakuni curry it was (perhaps putting the patented process to good use?). Cut to smaller pieces but still at a larger size for typical retort curries where it's not uncommon to see only a single sliver in the entire pouch for most, ha. I felt I had at least one with each spoonful and along with mushroom pieces, everything exceptionally smooth.

The reddish color of roux may visually give away the advertised Japanese Demi Glace blend which had tones of tomato flavor and subtle tartness, making it also overall on the sweeter side. It's a classy neighborhood restaurant curry if there is such a genre. Definitely richer and complex than your usual where I can see people that are into this being delightfully satisfied. But for me it still makes it edge toward a Hayashi which as much as I occasionally enjoy a plate of, something I need to be in a specific mood for.

Quality stuff here though where a lot simply comes down to personal taste. Like how I recently gave my extra box of the SB Demi-Glace Cheese Curry to a Japanese friend and she absolutely loved it.(!)

At least I can finally conclude that when it comes to Japanese curry, I personally prefer it sans cheese and unless used as a kakushiaji hidden flavor agent, not too meddled with demi glace.


K and S said...

great round-up! am still looking for that black curry :) I'm probably not looking hard enough lol

Dennis K. said...

Thanks Kat! I've checked the remainder of my stash and no more cheese or demi glace infused thank goodness. ;)

Cathy Doe said...

Usually buy whatever curry mix packets are on sale and always like it, but hardly ever get the same one twice. Now will be diligent to look for your recommendations. Thanks.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Cathy!
We unfortunately only get two or three brands max here. The S&B Golden Curry in retort pouch form I haven't seen recently which has been my go-to here. Been enjoying documenting my stash from Japan otherwise. :)