KARE Curry

173 Victoria St
West Melbourne, VIC 3003

I always thought that Japanese curry in Australia is pretty good. That is, until I went to Japan. Then I realised it’s like comparing a midweek 30-minute spaghetti to a recipe passed down through generations and made with love. So you can understand my excitement when I heard about KARE Curry, which looks like the real deal. But unlike Japanese curry houses, which are usually curry-only affairs, KARE operates as a café by day, and you can only get their curries in the evening. You can still nab some curry pan and Asian pastries later in the day, but the options depend on what’s left over. Thankfully, they still have their full menu of Japan-inspired drinks available, which extends well beyond matcha, and is good enough to warrant a visit in their own right. Unfortunately the food itself failed to live up to my (admittedly sky-high) expectations. It’s a bit better than the usual, but still nothing like what you get in Japan. Plus, the prices are pretty wild, even for the current climate. I’d come back for the drinks and sweets, but I’d only have the curry if someone else was paying.

Rating: 11.5/20 – twice the price but… not quite twice as good.
What to get: the drinks. and pastries (but maybe in the morning).

Pork Katsu Curry ($26)

The Pork Katsu Curry ($26) looked so so so good. But unfortunately that’s pretty much its only distinction. Unless you want to count the concerningly tough bit of fried pork cutlet. It’s not bad per se, but it’s just your standard curry (maybe it a little more flavoursome?) with an unfortunate price tag.

Vegetarian Curry Pan ($8)

The only curry pan left in the cabinet by 6pm was the Vegetarian Curry Pan ($8). This was quite nice, with a mixture of spiced vegetables inside a fluffy, lightly sweet bun. I would recommend getting this earlier in the day though, as it had started getting a bit stale and greasy by this point, even after they’ve heated it back up.

Unagi Tamago Yaki ($13.9)

The Unagi Tamago Yaki ($13.9) was a cute little snack, with grilled eel wrapped inside a fluffy egg omelette. But once again, REALLY pricey.

Yuzu Zingy Matcha Fizz ($8.9)

Deciding on drinks was hard work, but I eventually settled on the Yuzu Zingy Matcha Fizz ($8.9), which boasted beautiful swirls of matcha powder and yuzu puree, layered with sparkling tonic water. It’s bright, refreshing, and definitely one of a kind.

Kuro Goma Mochi Cookie ($6.5)

Like the drinks, the sweets here are also a highlight. The Kuro Goma Mochi Cookie ($6.5) was fudgy yet light, contrasting delightfully with the black sugar crystals sprinkled on top, and the chewy mochi hidden in the middle.

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