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 Vicksnot 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!

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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This is an example of quirky mixes: YJ ordered a special gapao soup curry (Gapao is a Thai dish).

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This is a special cheese dog only available during the anniversary event. It was amazing.

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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

English website 


Do you have any restaurants where you’re a regular?

8 responses to “Magic Spice: Everything Nice”

  1. Timo says:

    I checked this post and as my wife passed by she suddenly was transfixed on the food picturs “where is this” “when do we go there” “how good is it, it looks great” and so on…
    There you can see t hat she has been away from good Asian food for some long time (surviving with my moms food most of the time which is not really meant for Asian taste)

    • Ri says:

      Hahaha, awww! I could almost feel her pain as I read that. If you ever come to Tokyo, then you know where to get that spicy Asian food fixーI highly recommend it! 🙂

  2. You’ve got a good eye! The cheese dog serving was tiny and we were definitely still hungry for more. Thankfully the soup helped fix that problem. XD

    Yes it can be really hard to deal with the burn from supposedly mild dishes. :/ I may be a masochist because I rather enjoy it, even when it’s probably too spicy for me! ^^; Thankfully most mild dishes *are* rather mild in Japan (unlike in Korea where I believe half my tongue died. Maybe it hasn’t fully recovered yet and that’s why I can eat spicy food now! XD).

    Ooh, a ramen connoisseur! I can see you and YJ having a discussion about best soup base flavors. ^^ What about shoyu/soy sauce and miso bases? (Although given what you said, they both fall in the “pretty salty” category…)

    …now you have me wanting to eat some ramen. T-T

    • Mabel Kwong says:

      It seems that these days many dishes come in small portions, but they make up for it by being very tasty. At least that’s my experiences with middle to high class eateries.

      Ah, good to hear Japanese dishes aren’t that spicy compared to other Asian dishes. Malaysian dishes are also quite spicy, as spicy as the Korean dishes. Haha, maybe your tongue is now permanently numb from spicy. I’ve tried eating spicy every day a while back – what happened was my face turned red and full of sweat a third through the meals. Never again 😀

      I love my ramen, oh yes I do! I don’t have it too often here in Melbourne as it’s expensive (around $12-18 for a bowl, sadly). I like miso bases, soy sauce not so as I feel that makes it salty. I dislike the pork base as I don’t like the taste of pork and often this base is oily and thick…making me full more easily and I can’t finish the rest of my ramen!

      • Ri says:

        I think you’re right regarding the portion sizes/taste. Though there are always exceptions, there does seem to be a connection there. 🙂

        Mmm, spicy food every day!? Sounds like heaven to me!! 😉

        $12-18 for a bowl of ramen!? Wow! I guess we’re spoiled here! If it’s even 1,000 yen (I guess about $10?) I think it’s expensive. ^^; You should do a ramen tour of Japanーthe ticket may be expensive, but the ramen isn’t! (Japanese tourist agencies should make that their new slogan. ^^)

  3. Mabel Kwong says:

    This place sounds like a kooky place alright! That special cheese dog looks amazing, but that serving looks small. I hope you and YJ weren’t hungry for more when you finished eating it 🙂

    I’m one of those people who can’t stand spicy foods. I just can’t take it! I’ve visited restaurants in Asia and asked for “mild” for spicy dishes, and when the dish comes I find I have to drink water after every 2-3 bites.

    It’s always a dilemma for me when I’m eating Japanese noodle soups like ramen. Picking a soup base is hard. I’m not a fan of pork, so I don’t go for the pork or Tonkotsu soup bases, so it’s a fight between the shio/seafood or the chicken stock ones. A good soup base in my opinion doesn’t leave a salty feeling in your mouth, but rather allows your palate to savour the other ingredients in the dish – and of course complimenting the flavours of the individual ingredients too 🙂

  4. logan607 says:

    Hey there – these food posts are things I should avoid late at night since I am a (not so) secret fatty-fat-fat.

    My father, who went to college in Japan, regularly whips up a batch of curry for himself; I have many memories of the house smelling of delicious curry and rice.

    Now I’m starving…

    • Haha, I often have the same problem! Even watching movies with anything that looks remotely edible becomes a problem for me. XD

      Oh, nice! Curry and rice does have a wonderful aromaーmust be even nicer when you have nostalgic memories associated with it.

      …now I’m hungry too. 🙁

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