Aptly named after the beer, Ebisu is a section of Tokyo famous for its food, beer, and office buildings. With good office buildings comes the need for good restaurants (after all, office workers have to eat lunch. It would be a shame if they had to eat the same food every day).
So if you are job hunting in Tokyo, try to land a spot at a company in Ebisu. I guarantee you will never run out of food options. Behind each building is snaking alleyways with small mom and pop restaurants.
One of these is the Curry House Tiri Tiri. Located smack in between Ebisu and Shibuya stations, the Curry House Tiri Tiri is a real treat. Starting at around 11:30am until 1:00pm, there are lines of businessmen waiting outside the shop. They don’t have to wait long; this single counter restaurant moves customers in and out of the shop in a hurry.
When I went with a friend to the Curry House, he told me “The owners love curry. All they think about is curry. They hate the business and the customers, because sometimes it gets in the way of the curry. Their life is curry.” The restaurant is owned by a middle-age married Japanese couple. They flow through the kitchen in sync, taking turns cooking the curry, seasoning it, and passing it out to patrons.
As mentioned before, the entire restaurant is skinny – only one counter. Patrons are lined up like sardines. The woman won’t come to take your order until you yell “sumimasen!” or sort of raise your hand to get your attention, then she barks your orders back to the husband in the kitchen. They have several different types of curry – you can personalize each of these delicious curries with the meat of your choice (chicken, pork, beef, some sort of seafood), and your level of spicy tolerance. Unlike other Japanese restaurants, when they say spicy, they mean spicy. As a Texan, I can handle my spice, by a ‘medium spicy’ curry had me guzzling down the closest water pitcher. Maybe living in Japan has just lowered my tolerance.
And the curry? The curry is delicious. It’s not like the typical Japanese curry, smooth and savory. This curry is sharp, fresh, and keeps you craving for another spoonful. Luckily they serve each customer with an enormous helping of curry (you can pick your ‘type’ and size of rice). It’s a real challenge trying to finish the entire plate.
Despite the fact this restaurant is frequented by businessmen, the only sounds you hear are the frying of the curry and the guzzling of water (other people had similar reactions to the spicy curry). When my friend and I idled by, chatting, the wife walked over to us and barked at us to “hurry, finish eating!” because there were customers outside.
The entire experience was surreal. And wonderful. I’m not used to restaurant workers being anything but polite in Japan; to be in a restaurant where the owners shone with pride at their food, but thought of their customers as, well, only the people who ate their delicious food was fun, to say the least. I’ve gone back a couple times since then, it’s always refreshing and delicious.
The restaurant is only open for lunch. The couple makes enough money from their lunch and early dinner rush of service to pay for a prime spot in Ebisu.
Price-wise, I’ve had cheaper curry. My meal was around 800yen. However, I haven’t had such a great meal (especially at that price) in a long time. If you are a curry-lover in Tokyo, you need to check this place out. You will love it.