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Patriotism and curry meet Japan’s naval traditions

Exiting Kure railway station, a Pacific-facing naval base in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan, you might expect to inhale gulps of mineral-rich salt air. But the smells that assail me are coming from closer quarters: the port’s curry kitchens.

Japanese curry is not universally liked by foreigners -- an Indian resident I once met likened the dish to a form of industrial solvent. But I have long been a devotee of Tokyo curry establishments such as Nakamura-ya and the Japanese chains Hinoya Curry and CoCo Ichibanya. The latter’s Dodeka! Katsu Kare (giant cutlet curry) -- sliced, fried pork cutlets floating in a dense, roux-based sauce -- may not be everyone’s taste, but it’s a dish I have returned to time and again to bulk up and recharge my taste buds.