CoCo Ichibanya is one of Japan’s biggest food brand names. For instance, it’s won the endorsement of Japanese idol Mariko Shinoda of AKB48 fame. From its small beginnings, Coco Ichibanya has now become a huge international chain, with franchises throughout Asia and a few sprinkled in the States as well.
AC and I decided to check out the closest branch to my home, off the 60 Freeway at the Fullerton Rd. exit. CoCo is located deep within Diamond Plaza, past Kula, a revolving sushi bar (also part of a Japan-based chain).
The restaurant was spotless, almost spartan-like. We were seated promptly and given plenty of time to go through the extensive menu. CoCo’s menu (much like Curry House’s) is quite long, consisting of Japanese appetizers (e.g. potato croquettes) and different customizations (toppings, rice portions, and spice level).
We opted for one lunch set (curry plate, drink and salad for $1.50 more) and one entree. The waitress was kind enough to upgrade our drinks to iced coffee, even though the default drink for that set is iced tea. The salad, which included the usual greens: romaine and red lettuce, julienned carrots and corn, was pretty petite. But the provided salad dressing (roasted sesame!) was remarkably delicious. :Q___ I wasn’t surprised to find that they actually bottle that dressing and sell it separately, cos it’s good stuff.
The fried squid and clam curry was pretty decent. The sauce was well-seasoned and spicier than we presumed it would be. The squid rings looked like onion rings from afar, but I found it strange to be eating such a rubbery meat with curry.
The pork katsu curry was mouthwatering to look at and a delight to eat. The pork cutlet was perfectly fried and breaded with Panko crumbs. The meat was still tender and juicy inside.
Verdict: CoCo > Curry House, in both price and quality. It’s made me rethink my opinion of Japanese curry (I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to curry.)
Also, ask for a stamp card while you’re there! 10 stamps to get a free curry.
1380 Fullerton Road
Rowland Heights, CA 91748