Although curry is typically seen in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine, Japanese culture has adopted these flavors to create their own, unique dish. With options for drinks to enhance the flavors, Japanese curry is certainly worth a taste!

Curry has long been associated with Indian or Thai cuisine. However, Japanese curry has a long history as well, and it goes back to the late 1800s. With a rich history and unique flavors, along with the chance to pair with an array of delicious drinks, Japanese curry is a dish worth exploring.

The History of Japanese Curry

Curry wasn’t always familiar to Japan. In the late 1800s, Commodore Matthew Perry’s Black Ships from America introduced curry and other more “western” flavors to Japan. At this time, the British crown ruled the Indian subcontinent. When the Anglo-Indian Navy landed in Japan, it brought with its fleet the dishes and flavors that were once unique to their shores. Chefs used the new spices to create tasty dishes of rice, noodles, or soup to serve to adventurous eaters.

When restaurants began serving “Karē-Raisu” in the 1870s, many diners were enthralled by the exotic, expensive flavors. These days, the spice of curry powder is made into a roux and blended with the delicate taste of Japanese rice. This creates an appetizing dish that is now a favorite of many Japanese households. Other popular options include curry noodles and curry bread. With the dawn of instant curry powder in the mid-20th century, Japanese curry soon appeared on many family dinner table. Adapted in this way to traditional Japanese cuisine, curry is now one of the national dishes of the country.

Get ideas for your next sake tasting party here!

Drink Pairings

The spicy, exotic flavors of Japanese curry make it the perfect dish to accompany many traditional alcoholic Japanese drinks. From standard sake to a refreshing Japanese beer, the following drinks will help to cut through umami flavors and complement the meal.


Of course, one of the national dishes of Japan should be paired with its national drink – sake. The spicy flavors of this comfort food are the perfect accompaniment to traditional rice wine. In fact, sake pairs well with a wide variety of dishes. The rich flavors of Junmai sake will match nicely with the strong profile of Japanese curry.


If you’re looking for something a little different, why not try a Japanese plum wine (umeshu)? The rich, sweet flavors of the ume fruit will hold up against the taste of Japanese curry. They balance out some of the spice and match the slight sweetness that you can taste in some instant curry powders.

Other Alcoholic Drinks

There are Japanese drink options beyond sake and umeshu. Try a light, traditional Japanese lager such as Sapporo or Asahi to freshen your palate and wash down a delicious bite of rice or noodles. You can also enjoy a shochu sour to add a twist to the tasting.

Whether you want something light and crisp, or rich and sweet, you have many options for traditional, Japanese drinks that will complement the complex flavors of Japanese curry.

Here is a list of great Japanese beer to try!