We headed down to Ikebukuro this week to try out a shop with a great reputation in the area: A-Raj. The shop, once on the main road and now only a short walk on the backstreet behind it, offers a great selection of curries, and is well-known as much for its variety of superb southern Indian dishes as it is for its affable, talkative owner Mr. Almita Raj. On visiting A-Raj, you will see him in the kitchen, toiling away to produce a wonderful array of dishes, with items on the lunch menu rotated on a daily basis. With such a hands-on approach, it is easy to understand how Mr. Raj's culinary passion draws people from far and wide and why queues often form outside the shop.
Chris and I went there for lunch, ordering the meat and vegetarian Thali ‘meals’, respectively. In the meat meals alone, there were four curries: Chicken, Saag Mutton, Mutton Keema, and Vegetable Curry, then added to that was Cabbage Kootu, Lady Finger Pula Kuzhambu, Coconut Burfi, rice, puri, papad, and achar. There were no refills as there are at other places around Tokyo that do the lunchtime Thali sets, and there was no need. We were both stuffed by the end, but agreed not uncomfortably so, which is often the reaction we get after eating southern Indian food with its delicate balance of light ingredients and certainly not the kind of stuffed feeling you get after an assault of all-you-can-eat naan and rice. We got speaking to Mr. Raj and ended up staying for an hour longer than planned... More