Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: Nichirei 'Restaurant Use Only' chicken curry.
Does this take 'restaurant quality' food branding to a new (and fairly low) level?
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that it does. It says 'restaurant use' in English and Japanese, in case you weren't convinced by it being written in just one language.
In case you can't make that out:
"This product has been developed by Nichirei for restaurant use, with special consideration given to materials and preparation techniques."
Note also the 'chef' in the middle, in a hat so high it could be hiding a chocolate fountain. And is that a horseshoe he's peeping out from?
I found this curry in a convenience store. A 100 yen (108 yen, with tax) store, to be precise. Japan's take on the pound shop. It's hard to know what to expect from a 'restaurant use' curry you only paid 76p for.
There were a lot of packets on the shelf. I'm hoping they didn't fall off the back of a passing catering truck...
Also, these are 'boil in the bag' bags. In single person servings. No eatery worth its table salt orders pre-made curry in such small portions. We're probably talking canteens, roadside vans, that sort of thing. 'Restaurants' would be pushing it.
"Yep, this contains real chicken meat!" I'm glad we established that.
At least it's a simple enough meal to make - and I genuinely appreciate that. Even skipped out on the water boiling time by using the microwave.
I keep finding that packet curries have that unappetising yellow-brown tinge. With this one, I found that yet again. Yum?
(This paragraph is in place of a photo of the plated-up curry with rice. I tried putting the pic into this post first. It looked... wrong. Very wrong. 'Why the hell would you eat that?' wrong. I took the photo back out.)
This curry's spiced with cardamom, amongst others. The spice was overwhelming. I've never done the cinnamon challenge, but this was a cardamom challenge for sure. I mixed a lot of sauce into the curry to make it edible.
Look hard enough and you do find bits of chicken hiding in the sauce. Little itty bits. The bare minimum needed to claim it on the packet.
Verdict: 3/10. If I was served this in a restaurant, I think I'd send it back.