White curry spices up interest in city known for blue jeans

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The keema curry inspired by the salt fields of the Kojima district of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture

KURASHIKI, Okayama — An eye-catching white curry inspired by the salt fields that once flourished in the Kojima district of Kurashiki is becoming another colorful attraction in the area best known as the birthplace of denim blue jeans in Japan.

The dish might not look like regular curry, but its popularity with customers — and on social media — seems set to make it an established local delicacy.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Masahiro Ota holds a bowl of the distinctive curry he created at his restaurant.

The Kojima salt field keema curry is the brainchild of Masahiro Ota, who runs a restaurant near JR Kojima Station. The star attraction of this dish is fresh cream and cream cheese that have been whipped into a fine, white foam and then spread over the restaurant’s regular keema curry. The sweetness of the cream and the cheese, combined with the strong spices lurking in the curry, create a rich flavor that has set tongues wagging.

Kojima has thrived in recent years thanks to a promotion campaign playing up the district’s reputation as the birthplace of Japanese jeans. However, vast salt fields once spread across the district and Kojima prospered on the back of its salt industry.

The curry went viral on social media soon after it appeared on the restaurant’s menu in April. In addition to comments praising the curry’s flavor, many others also mentioned its appearance. “It doesn’t look like curry,” one post said, while another gushed, “It’s very cool.”

“Kojima is more than just denim jeans,” said Ota, 39. “It’s a district with many special features and a rich history. I hope my dishes will help people to learn about and see this community from a fresh perspective.”