The latest curry spot to hit Siam Paragon comes straight from Japan.
Siam Paragon's newest curry house is the first of its kind to open outside of Japan. Since opening in 2007, Camp Curry has ballooned to 33 stores back in its homeland.
The menu includes some simple Japanese style curries, including Hayashi brown stew (B150) and the fully-loaded vegetable curry (B190), as well as a couple of desserts, including Hokkaido milk pudding (B150) and Daigaku sweet potato (B80).
The Bangkok branch has some special editions on its menu, too, like the big camp fire curry (B380)—a large nabe (hot pot) style soup for sharing.
To drink there's Japanese tea served in picnic bottles (B55), honey or mango lassies (B90-95) and both Asahi (B90) and Singha beers (B80).
Camp Curry puts gimmickry over quality. This family-friendly chain’s claim of selling Tokyo’s best curry seems laughable when at Siam Paragon alone it’s a distant second to Coco Ichibanya, that ubiquitous mall dwelling, which does tastier food in bigger portions at cheaper prices, without all the bells and whistles.
Camp Curry’s 34th branch, and first outside the homeland, transforms a slither of space into a quirky monument to the Japanese love of camping. The single wall is lined with backpacks, maps and kerosene lamps, tea comes in tartan tumblers, and bib-clad diners sit on Coleman fold-out chairs and eat over big brown paper tablecloths. So far, so twee.
However, it doesn’t make up for the mostly run-of-the-mill food. Not bad, just boring, this soupy, under-spiced curry is unlikely to excite anyone brought up on the rich, buttery goodness of Ramen Tei or the hefty, stew-like fare of Grand Ramen. For theater, staff in broad-rimmed hats pour the brown stuff into steaming skillets table-side. Unfortunately, there’s not even enough of it to finish your rice when you order the katsu curry (B250), whose pork cutlet is serviceably crunchy if a tad on the dry side.
The “fully-loaded” vegetable curry (B190) fares better and does indeed come packed with carrot, corn, eggplant and potato, which are said to come from the Royal Projects. With all this freshness, it’s almost easy to forget this is carb-loaded comfort food that’s hardly supposed to be healthy. Still, that curry. We resort to lacing it with katsu sauce, cribbed from our order of karaage (B149/four). Lukewarm on our last visit, these drumsticks are also disappointingly low on the meat to mutant-looking fried batter ratio. Another side, the Hango shake salad (B129), a mix of iceberg, croutons and sweet potato shaken and served at your table, is awash in sickly, sweet dressing.
Peel away the outdoorsy kitsch and Camp Curry’s food is underwhelming. A Bangkok-only menu insertion like a large hot pot (B380) for sharing doesn’t change that, nor does an on-point dessert like the honey-glazed purple sweet potato (B80). At a pinch, keep the place in mind for a last-ditch Sunday lunch, when the crowds are moderately more bearable than at Coco four floors lower in Paragon’s main food zone.
This review took place in August 2017 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.