Shimokitazawa has gained a reputation for being a hipster enclave, a kitsch alternative to the touristy Shibuya. However, with its self-proclaimed offbeat vibes and onslaught of media, it has gradually become commercialized and mainstream. Nonetheless, it is still a great place for an afternoon of food and shopping!
A friend introduced us to a soup curry place named Cocoro 心, which means heart, in Shimokitazawa. The place of origin and main branch is in Sapporo, and it also has branches in Saitama and Taiwan. It spearheaded the concept of soup curry as a clear soup, as opposed to the thick gravy that comes to mind. It has the assari lightness of soup, and also the fragrant spices of curry! The chicken and pork based broth has tomatoes and basil amongst other vegetables, herbs and spices, and is simmered for more than 10 hours. It incorporates Western cooking techniques with Asian flavors. Cocoro’s soup curry is served various ways including with grilled chicken, seasonal vegetables, and lamb. It comes in a longish tear-shaped bowl, with a stewed potato, carrots and a boiled egg. Plenty of vegetables!
The level of spiciness may be chosen from level 1 to 100. Level 3 is medium heat, level 7 is high heat, levels 11-30 are “anyway-you-like-it spicy”, and levels 31-100 are “spiciness that would surprise even the Indians”. The rice, with the option of either white or brown, also has different size portions. Additional soup can also be requested. Just like when ordering ramen, almost everything can be customized! The set comes with a mini salad and a drink. The lassi, or yoghurt drink, is pretty good. It was our second time here; we got the bone-in chicken drumstick thigh with level 30 spiciness, and the pork and spinach soup curry set. The chicken was succulent and stewed nicely. The pork was flavorful and complemented the soup.
It’s the perfect soup for any day, bringing a hint of heat but without the cloying heaviness that typical curries may have.