Magic Spice: Everything Nice
YJ and I have a few go-to restaurants that we always seem to go back to when we can’t be bothered to research a new place to dine out. In that respect we’re already old fuddy duddies, I guess, but it works for us! One of our absolute favorite places is a soup curry restaurant in Shimokitazawa, and we end up going roughly once a month. We also tend to go if either of us has caught a cold as the spiciness clears out nasal passages better than Vicksーand tastes a million times better (no, I’ve never eaten Vicks…not as far as I know, anyway). Soup curry is a Hokkaido specialty, inspired by curries from southeast Asia, especially Indonesia. As the name suggests, it comes in soup form, and isn’t thick and sauce-like, like Japanese and other curries.
And so, let me introduce Magic Spice!
The Magic Spice we go to in Shimokitazawa isn’t the main storeーthe flagship restaurant is in Sapporo, then there’s one in Osaka and Nagoya respectively. As you can see, both the exterior and interior are colorful, a little bit busy, and in the words of Bill and Ted, Far out, duuuuude! We’re not entirely sure where the inspiration comes from as they seem to have a mix of Buddhist and Hindi references alongside a multitude of other seemingly random objet d’art and posters. Needless to say, it’s original.
The menu, like the interior, looks like it’s all over the place, but you get used to it pretty quickly. There are about 11 soup bases to choose from, with the hamburg being my personal favorite. (Note: hamburger ハンバーガー and hamburg ハンバーグ are different in Japaneseーthe latter is more like a Swedish pannbiff, which I suppose, in turn is similar to a Salisbury steak). The chicken and pork versions are good too, and according to my vegetarian friend, the veggie soup is pretty great too! (Magic Spice’s veggie soups are actually veggie friendlyーthe soups are not made from any kind of meat stock, unlike many other places in Japan.)
One of the best things about this place (apart from the multitude of toppings you can choose from: anything from egg, sausages and mushrooms to tempura and natto) is the multiple levels of spiciness. I love this because it means I can bring along friends who don’t like spicy food so much as well. YJ and I usually get the 天空 (tenkuu)/Raputa level, which is the next spiciest on the chart. I’m pretty sure that’s about my limit, so when I don’t want the burn, I go for 極楽（Gokuraku)/Paradise. Most people (including kids) seem to be fine with the 覚醒(kakusei)/Awakening level.
But on to the real reason we go there: the food! Mmm. As I mentioned earlier, I almost always get the hamburg soup, mainly because I like to have something with a bit more consistency than small pieces of meat. YJ usually gets the chicken, which comes with a really tender chicken thigh pieceーthe meat almost falls off the bone. Mmmmm. These photos, however, are from Magic Spice Tokyo’s 10th anniversary event. I apologize for not showing our regular, but usually we go in the evening and the lighting is terrible. We lucked out when we went there on the weekend and got a window seatーusually unheard of if you don’t make a reservation. (Did I mention the lines to get in can be long? I should probably mention that: this is a really popular place, especially on weekends, so expect to wait unless you get there before they open, or just after the first lunch/dinner rush!)
Having said all that, the soups tend to look quite similar, apart from the main ingredient. My soup (below) had lamb in it, and while good, wasn’t as impressive as my usual.
YJ’s ordered a cheese and onion sausage (organic!) as a topping for his, and it was pretty delicious. I don’t think he had the chicken soup base this time, but something else.
Both our ordersーthe dark stuff on the rice is actually a nori (seaweed) topping and adds a bit of extra flavor to the saffron rice. (The rice is standard for all sets.)
This is an example of quirky mixes: YJ ordered a special gapao soup curry (Gapao is a Thai dish).
This is a special cheese dog only available during the anniversary event. It was amazing.
I have plenty more (terrible) pictures of what the soup curries look in the dark, but I’m trying to make the place look appealing, so I won’t share them. Rest assured that this kooky place (no really, they even have a “magic mushroom” toppingーwhich is just normal mushrooms) is an experience worth having if you happen to visit Tokyo. The soups are spicy and rich, but not heavy or oilyーthe perfect balance!
Magic Spice Shimokitazawa / Tokyo
Where: 1-40-15 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku
Nearest stn: Shimokitazawa
Open: Mon, Thurs-Fri 11:30am-3pmand 5:30-11pm/ Sat-Sun & hols 11:30am-11pm
Do you have any restaurants where you’re a regular?