Japanese curry restaurant chain operator Ichibanya Co. opened its first eatery in India near the capital New Delhi on Monday hoping to tap into the market with a population of over 1.3 billion, the second largest in the world.

The outlet was initially scheduled to open in spring, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Ichibanya, operator of CoCo Ichibanya curry restaurants in Japan and abroad.

Since a vast majority of people in India do not eat beef and pork based on their religious beliefs, the restaurant's menu is based on dishes using chicken, seafood and vegetables, the company said.

A 38-year-old Indian man said he believes so-called CoCoIchi curry will become popular among Indians because they are used to eating a variety of curry flavors in India and they love to try new things.

A Japanese expatriate eats curry rice at Japanese curry restaurant chain CoCo Ichibanya's first outlet in India in Gurugram, near New Delhi, on Aug. 3, 2020, its opening day. (Kyodo)

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Prior to the opening, Japanese nationals and others lined up in front of the eatery in Gurugram in a district where office buildings and commercial complexes are concentrated.

With the coronavirus continuing to spread in India, which has the world's third-highest number of infection cases, the operator took preventive measures such as disinfecting customers' hands.

"It will be the first time in three years that I have eaten CoCoIchi curry," said 40-year-old Shinji Ieki, a Japanese company employee stationed in India.

A member of staff of Japanese curry restaurant chain CoCo Ichibanya's first outlet in India serves a customer on Aug. 3, 2020, on its opening day. Both are wearing protective face masks amid the novel coronavirus pandemic at the restaurant in Gurugram, near New Delhi. (Kyodo) 

"It will become something to look forward to in my life here. I would like to support (Ichibanya's) challenges in the home of curry," said Ieki, who works for a local arm of a transport equipment maker based in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan.

The eatery is run by Ichibanya India Private Ltd., a joint venture the Japanese company established with Mitsui & Co. (Asia Pacific) Pte. Ltd., a Singapore subsidiary of Mitsui & Co., a Japanese trading house.

With the restaurant, Ichibanya now has a total of 1,447 outlets in Japan and 12 foreign countries and territories.