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Land Of The Rising Curry: Camp Curry Comes To Manila

Would it surprise you to learn that curry is so popular in Japan, it could practically be considered as one of their national dishes? Ever since it was introduced by the British during the Meiji era, the Japanese have made the traditionally Indian dish one of their go-to home-cooked meals. Whether on rice, mixed with noodles, or on it’s own, there’s an endless set of preparations and recipes that incorporate curry. Japanese children are treated to curry from an early age as parents find it easy to prepare; and when these children are sent to summer camp, it’s a sure bet that it’ll be one of their regular campfire or bunkhouse meals. 


The jovial Camp Founder Takashi Sato

It’s with all these traditions in mind that Camp Curry Founder Takashi Sato came up with the brilliant idea of converting his Camp Curry eateries into blasts of nostalgia—both in terms of taste and visual stimuli. Storm lamps, backpacks, camping equipment festoon the interiors; and when you get your utensils, they’re mini-shovels and pitchforks—Too cute! And Camp Curry just opened their first outlet here in the Philippines, at the Ayala Triangle. 


The How To Guide at Camp Curry


As for the food, you know how the Japanese have this penchant for ‘appropriating’ cuisines from other countries and turning them Japanese? Like how they’ve adopted Italian, and even French cuisine? Well, Camp Curry is a great example of how this is done to create something unique. One basically orders beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, or all-vegetable dishes, and you’re given a choice of three curry sauces to choose from. 

First, there’s the Brown Keema Curry, an Original Camp recipe that utilizes minced chicken in the curry base. It’s almost like a curried Bolognese sauce if you can imagine that, and it works! Second option is the Green Vegeful Curry; this one is Thai-based, but given a very Japanese extra kick, by introducing Wasabi. The third choice available, is the Manila Red Bisque Curry, something developed by Sato specifically for Manila. Using Tomato & Shrimps, this curry reminded me of Bouillabaisse. 


Array of the three Curry Sauces: (clockwise from top left) Brown Keema, Red Bisque and Green Vegeful


Camp’s Shrimps with Vegetables

Camp’s Pork Rib & Vegetables

There are BBQ Grills that can be ordered without Curry; and the Vegetable Curry has as many as 12 seasonal Vegetables in them. Camp Curry is also proud of its Lassi drink, and the Mango Lassi they created. For those who opted for fiery Curry, the Lassi is highly recommended. As are their choices of dessert, one a S’Mores concoction that hits home.

From its humble start in Yoyogi, Tokyo alley, where the Vegetable Curry was the sole item on the menu, Takashi Sato has turned his Camp Curry into a regional phenom, with Camps sprouting up as far south as Bangkok, and now, Manila. Not just for the Summer, but all-year round, it’ll be good to enjoy Camp and their Curries.


Photos by Philip Cu-Unjieng