The Best Japanese Curry In SF guide image


The Best Japanese Curry In SF

Where to go for the gravy-like sauce and rice.

Our burning desire for a plate of Japanese curry knows no bounds, so we decided to make a guide for it. This curry, filled with fried meat and vegetables, does inexplicable wonders to warm us up on commonly cold San Francisco nights—but we’d never say no to a plate of chicken katsu curry on a hot summer day, either. This town loves curry as much as we do, and there are lots of great options when the desire for the lava-like deliciousness calls. These are a few of our favorite places in the city to fill up on Japanese curry. 


photo credit: Melissa Zink

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Stonemill Matcha


561 Valencia St, San Francisco
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We keep this minimalist cafe in the Mission in lunch rotation for the excellent Japanese comfort dishes. There are pork katsu sandwiches, teishoku set meals with potato croquettes and miso soup, and a remarkable chicken katsu curry. The curry is flavorful and not too thick, while the meat is still juicy, despite having been fried to a deep golden brown. Order one alongside a matcha cheesecake, and don't be surprised when the wooden booths inspire you to linger until closing (4pm).

The cheery green walls, tree decals, and hanging vines at this counter-service Sunset spot invite you to ditch the rest of your evening plans and forget about work tomorrow. That's easy, considering the hearty Japanese curry here is next-level. It's thick and smooth, poured over the standard grilled shrimp, chicken karaage, and pork katsu. We like that Yoma Cafe serves the curry plates with seaweed salad and pickled vegetables for added brightness. Go for the curry with chicken katsu, which is crackly yet still nice and tender. Just be prepared to curl up under a pile of blankets and nap for the next five hours. 

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Like a cleansing crystal, eating a meal at Volcano Curry is one way to set you on a positive path. The casual Japanese spot in the Richmond has everything from udon to mini fried Spam sandwiches—but you’re here for the curries. The best part is that they're under $15 yet big enough to leave you with leftovers—or, most likely, cradling yourself after you devour everything up. A plate includes white rice, a protein like pork katsu, chicken karaage, or fried fish, and enough curry (containing big chunks of potatoes and carrots) to fill a pool—a.k.a. it's exactly the kind of soul-saving food you want while mulling over deep questions like, "Did I really need to order that hotel-quality bathrobe?"

Nippon Curry (formerly Hinoya Curry) is serving their rich, peanut butter-based Japanese curry to the athleisure-loving citizens of the Marina. This counter-service spot is relaxed and airy, and ideal for spending quality time with the curry that includes breaded, fried prawns (the crisp is perfect and complements the curry). This place also has a longer-than-average sake and beer menu, always has special deals (peep their socials for the latest), and Happy Hour discounts on drinks and sides like karaage until 6pm daily. 

This low-key Japanese cafe in SoMa is one of our absolute favorite places to cozy up with a katsu sandwich—they make some of the best in town. But do not pass on the Japanese curry (a dish we'd also cozy up with easily). It's rich and fragrant, and will give you more satisfaction than your ASMR of choice. We like to top it with the crispy potato croquettes or chicken katsu, but whatever protein you land on will soak up the curry nicely.

The obvious move at Muracci's to just get the curry—but they have other satisfying options, too. This takeout window specializing in Japanese curry is another quick-hit lunch operation on Kearny Street in FiDi. The curry won’t change your life, but it doesn’t need to—it’s simple, fragrant with a nice kick, and well-suited for hearty lunches on-the-fly or even an early dinner (they close at 6pm). Other options include curry with beef, fried prawns, omelet, or grilled salmon. And like most casual curry spots, you have a choice of heat levels, plus white or brown rice. 

One of many highlights at this corgi-themed, counter-service Japanese cafe in NoPa is the curry—their version is extra silky smooth. So, blocking out a "midday appointment" on your calendar and getting here is always a good idea. As is admiring all the corgi figurines and offbeat "got corgi?" posters everywhere. Our order is always the pork katsu curry, which is richly spiced and worth it, especially on chilly days. They also have fantastic poke bowls with fresh, high-quality proteins like salmon or ahi tuna.

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