3517 N Spaulding Ave, Chicago, IL, 60618 , Avondale
Price: $$$$$

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Bokuchan - Chicago

Avondale’s Bokuchan, Chicago’s first dedicated Japanese curry shop, opened recently for takeout and delivery only, and the food is designed to travel well without everything sloshing together. It’s that kind of thoughtfulness that sets Bokuchan apart.

Thicker, less spicy and more sweet than traditional Indian curries, the Japanese curry from Bokuchan is served with Japanese rice. Made daily from scratch, the Japanese curries at Bokuchan leverage high-quality ingredients and contain no preservatives, which are sometimes found in the boxed curries that you’ll find in Asian grocery stores. This is distinctive curry that you may have never had the chance to enjoy before, but that you will enjoy a lot, probably again and again.

The Bokuchan menu is currently quite focused, though there are plans to expand the menu and locations, and on the website, you can get updates about new menu items and openings.

Tonkatsu Kare is a take on the traditional fried pork cutlet, and it uses a premium Cheshire pork loin enrobed in a delicious curry, along with carrots and potatoes. To keep dishes like this in perfect shape for transportation, elements are carefully wrapped separately so that they can be easily combined at home for a restaurant-quality meal at your own kitchen table.

Weeaboo Kare is a gluten-free option, with beef curry, carrots, potatoes and charred broccoli. In case you’re wondering, “weeaboo” is a somewhat pejorative slang term for a Westerner who is obsessed with Japanese culture, like anime, Godzilla movies…and Japanese curry.

Level 5 Vegan Kare is also gluten-free, and it’s chickpea and sweet potato curry with oyster mushrooms and peas. As any gamer knows. Level 5 is an immensely popular Japanese video game development company.

Overseeing the preparation of all these and other dishes is Shin Thompson, who was voted Rising Star Chef of the Year and opened restaurants like his Bonsoiree, which earned a Michelin star, as well as Wicker Park’s Ramen Shop, the local legend Furious Spoon and Kabocha. Thompson is clearly weeaboo, and proud of it, and we all should be glad of it, as that kind of unrelenting obsession leads to some excellent chow.

Thompson’s base curry is vegetable stock (onions, carrots, apples, garlic and ginger), though unlike many curries, it contains no flour (thus the gluten-free options), but it’s amped up with a blend of twenty-three spices like Sichuan peppercorns, coriander and fenugreek. It’s a mouthful of deliciousness.

As of this writing, Bokuchan operates out of a ghost/cloud/virtual kitchen, but what it lacks in ambiance (and associated costs), it makes up for with superb curries.