It was a gray and dreary day in California…a rare one. But on those “cold” California nights where one wants chili, but one hasn’t made it in the crockpot because it is California, what does one do? Well – one could take a drive up to CoCo’s ICHIBANYA! If you have lived in Japan or Okinawa, you are already well aware of the chain. CoCo’s curry is Japanese curry – it is milder in flavor than the Indian curry that those who live in America may have come to know.
We first moved to Okinawa, CoCo’s was one of the first restaurants we tried out. While everything is new and exciting when living in an overseas location, CoCo’s is a local and American favorite and we quickly became regular visitors there. When we got orders out to Southern California, I was very much looking forward to having a taste of our overseas home.
It is not like any other American dining experience. Thankfully, the menu spells out how to order.
Our favorite in Japan was a katsu curry, small rice, level five with garlic. The spice level in America was a bit stronger so we went with a level 2 and that was plenty. The topping options are a bit different in the US. The vegetable topping was delicious- steamed potatoes, onions and carrots were the perfect cold weather compliment in the curry.
The “Nan” is large enough to split between two people. We got two naan for four people and we had leftovers. The garlic cheese naan was our go to in Okinawa and we tried it at Irvine. It was extra cheesy – something we hadn’t previously experienced.
The kids have an adorable menu as well with their options served on the traditional divided kids plate. The curry is served in a separate container which is perfect for the little ones who want to dip. The curry served to them is not spicy at all, and both of our kiddos enjoyed it. If you have a child who may not venture to try the curry, they do have a kid’s mac and cheese that is served with curry on the side. All kids meals come with a drink, cookie and a toy (which they did not have in stock when we went but they gave extra cookies instead).
CoCo’s ICHIBANYA Address: 2710 Alton Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92606
Parking is a bit difficult here. CoCo’s is part of a complex of multiple Asian restaurants, markets and coffee shops. We went on a rainy Sunday when a lot of people were wanting to be inside. There is a parking garage, but it was full when we went. We just had to stalk the parking lot to find a spot, but with all the coming to the market, there was a lot a lot of going so after a few moments, we were able to get a parking spot. So be patient, or go during the work day if able.
To scope out their other locations, or to look at their menu more check out here
Just a word to those who have eaten at CoCo’s in Japan – like all American eateries, you need (should) to tip here. It may have the CoCo’s name, but you are not in Japan where tipping is not the norm. Also, this restaurant does have the infamous “push” button to call for service. However, when talking to the servers at this location, they actually don’t like when it is rung because they feel like they haven’t done their job. Such the culture clash!
We hope even if you aren’t a fan of curry, you will try this eatery out. If you have pending orders to Okinawa, this will give you a taste of what you will be able to enjoy daily if you want to there! If you have moved back from Okinawa, it will give you a taste of your old “home”. Will you go?