Among the sweet and savory baked goods available at Japanese bakeries, curry bread (カレーパン karēpan in Japanese) is usually one of the most popular. Filled with satisfyingly spicy curry roux and stuffed into an often crispy fried bun, it's a winning combination enjoyed by young and old.

Here at grape Japan, we truly appreciate our curry bread and have found opportunities to introduce not only the ones you can find in convenience stores but even other products like this curry bread spread that lets you reproduce the flavor of karēpan at home when you don't want to go out.

So, when we heard that long lines were forming at a new curry bread specialty shop in the upscale Azabujuban neighborhood of Tokyo, a shop so confident in its hot-from-the-fryer curry breads that it hints at how addictive they are in its very name, of course we had to go and see what all the commotion was about and try some for ourselves!

Addictive curry bread

The name of the store is 小麦の禁断症状 揚げたてカレーパン専門店 komugi no kindan shōjō agetate karēpan senmonten, which literally means "wheat* withdrawal symptoms: hot-from-the-fryer curry bread speciality shop." In other words, they're suggesting you'll be so addicted that you'll experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop eating their curry breads!

* In this case, the word "wheat" represents the fried bread enveloping all of their offerings. Since the shop also sells fried breads filled with things other than curry, both savory and sweet, wheat is the element they all have in common.

As it turns out, the shop's popularity, after only ten days of operation, isn't only due to the quality of its curry breads and its unusual name. The shop is produced by entrepreneur, investor, singer, writer and YouTuber ラファエル Raphael, known for his trademark white mask and grey sweatshirt. With 1.83 million subscribers at the time of writing, Raphael, who started as a member of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and had a career as a businessman before becoming a YouTuber, is an avid curry bread fan. He spent four months researching the various kinds of curry breads available in the market, documenting his journey on his YouTube subchannel.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a very long line. In fact, the line was so long that there was a security guard holding a sign indicating where it ended, which is something you usually don't see in Azabujuban.

Photo by grape Japan

To help promote the fledgling curry bread shop, Raphael himself is there to talk to customers for several hours every day through the end of August, and has also invited various minor celebrities to be honorary shop managers for the day. For details, check Raphael's Twitter account.

When our turn finally came around, we could get a closer look. The customer in front of us was ordering a whole dozen of them...

Photo by grape Japan

The sign proudly displays the shop's name:

Photo by grape Japan

Those curry breads waiting behind the glass panel did look inviting, beautifully round, golden brown and looking quite nice and crispy...

Photo by grape Japan

Their breads are reasonably priced for a specialty shop. We ordered their signature item, the 禁断のカレーパン (kindan no karēpan | lit. "forbidden curry bread") as well as the とろ~りチーズのカレーパン (torōri chīzu no karēpan | gooey cheese curry bread), both of which were 250 JPY, tax included.

Other items on the menu include エビとキノコのシチューパン (ebi to kinoko no shichū pan | shrimp and mushroom stew bread) for 350 JPY, the お子様カレーパン(甘口) (okosama karēpan {amakuchi} | kids' curry bread {not spicy}) for 250 JPY, and two premium stick-shaped breads called 究極のカレーパン(辛口) (kyūkyoku no karēpan {karakuchi} | ultimate curry bread {spicy}) for 400 JPY and the 至高のカレーパン(中辛) (shikō no karēpan {chūkara} | supreme curry bread {mildly spciy}) for 300 JPY. Moreover, for toppings you can choose from cheese for an additional 50 JPY or other toppings such as a wiener, a fried shrimp and spinach for 100 JPY.

A taste of forbidden curry bread

We hurried home with our hot-from-the-fryer curry breads to try them. They came in a big white paper bag with the name of the shop printed on it, as were the individual paper bags for each curry bread.

Photo by grape Japan

A delicious aroma of curry and fried bread filled our nostrils as we placed them on our plate.

We started with the 禁断のカレーパン (kindan no karēpan | lit. "forbidden curry bread")...

Photo by grape Japan

Cutting one in half, we could see a generous filling of wonderfully fragrant roux, a crispy exterior and soft bread batter...

Photo by grape Japan

When it was finally time to eat one, we were actually surprised. With all the hype behind it, we had our doubts that these curry breads would live up to their name, but these are really good curry breads! Crispy crust, light and tasty bread and delicious roux all in one bite. The curry roux is creamy, with a satisfying blend of spices, combining savory and sweet flavors with just the right kick of spice. We had to fight back our urge to finish the whole bread long enough to pause and take notes!

Maybe that's what they mean by addictive. It's true that it's hard to stop eating one once you've begun!

The とろ~りチーズのカレーパン (torōri chīzu no karēpan | gooey cheese curry bread) was also excellent with the welcome addition of mild, creamy cheese...

If these two were so good, we have high hopes for the other tasty-sounding breads on their menu.

One thing seems certain. The shop must be doing well for Raphael since today, on August 16th, he announced that he's turning the business into a franchise.

If you go, we recommend enjoying them on the spot when they're still hot-from-the-fryer fresh.

Shop Information

  • Name: 小麦の禁断症状 揚げたてカレーパン専門店 komugi no kindan shōjō agetate karēpan senmonten
  • Hours: 9:00 to 22:00
  • Open: Seven days a week
  • Address (JP): 〒106-0045 東京都港区麻布十番1丁目7-9 酒井ビル1F
  • Address (EN): 1F Sakai Bldg. 1-7-9 Azabu Juban Minato Ward Tokyo 106-0045
  • Access: 2 min. walk from Azabu Juban Sta. (Toei Oedo Line / Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line)
  • Tel: 03-6403-7589
  • Payment: Cash only (at time of writing)
  • Reservations: n/a

By - grape Japan editorial staff.