Curry devotees might want to give a shot at Coco Ichibanya, a world-renowned Japanese Curry brand that has plethora of branches all over the world. The brand has recently set foot in Penang, making its debut at Queens Street of Queensbay Mall Penang (between Okomen and Seoul Garden). As the name might have suggested, the brand is famous for its Curry Rice but Coco Ichibanya is not a one-trick pony, it serves good Pork Cutlet too (according to some) and some non-curry dishes. Prices are slightly on the higher side but justifiable with the satisfying portion. Diners may even pair their own desired toppings or to make it a unique combination to themselves. The flexibility is there; the spicy lovers could challenge themselves to the highest level (level 5) while the heat-intolerant could play safe by staying at the default level (original) or the lowest level (meant for children). A place especially suitable for novelty seekers to try a completely different variation of Curry.
One of the recommended orders- Omelette Pork Cutlet Curry Rice (Rm 26) comes in a hefty portion. Japanese White Rice blanketed with a runny Omelette, topped with a huge hunk of Pork Cutlet. A generous amount of Japanese Curry is then ladled around the Omelette. Pork Cutlet could be a better option over Chicken Cutlet, the meat was dangerously tender with minimal Pork note underneath. The Omelette introduced a fluffy-runny texture to the chewy Japanese Rice, as well as a delightful eggy aroma to the sweet-savory Japanese Curry. The Curry was at its best state- rich, creamy but not overly so; it was veering towards the sweeter side with a slight fruity-vege hint of sweetness. A contenting dish best shared by two.
We custom-ordered the next order- Curry Rice (reduced portion- 150g/ Rm 12) with Vegetables (Rm 4) and Chicken Cutlet (Rm 6); completed with Salad and Miso Soup (Rm 6). To establish a fully-fledged review, I decided to go for their spiciest level. As expected, the Japanese Curry came in thicker, richer with a dark-red hue. Texture seemed to be grittier, probably due to the addition of Chili Powder. It was not the direct heat from fresh Chilies, rather, a seemingly "peppery" tongue-burning sensation surfaced after a few seconds. It was still within the acceptable range but the tongue was probably a little numb to discern any flavors.
The Chicken Cutlet was disappointingly average, though it was succulent-tender but probably a little overly tender to my liking. The distinctive aroma of Panko/ Japanese Bread Crumbs did not stand out either. The Vegetables, on the other hand, were good. The Long Beans did manage to maintain its crunchy bite while the Carrots and Potatoes were cooked till fork tender. The measly amount of Vegetables did not seem to justify the price though. The Salad dressed with Goma Sauce was straight-forward and predictable; Miso Soup was okay but we were quite pleased with the generous amount of Seaweed added.
Radish-Pickle, a must-have complement to the Curry Rice
Taste: 7/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Service: 7.5/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Ambiance: 8/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Price: 7/10 (1-3 expensive, 4-7 average, 8-10 cheap)
Parking: 7/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Service Charge: Yes 10%
Address: Lot 3F-22, Queensbay Mall, 100, Persiaran Bayan Indah, 11900, Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Business Hours: 10:30 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: N/A
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