The first hurdle in discovering your local is the determination to try any shop, no matter how questionable they may look from the outside. Fitting, then, that the next two restaurants I visited for this series both struck me as rather unappealing - though for entirely different reasons.
We start with Tandoor, inside Kashiwa station’s Takashimaya Shinkan mall. Kinshicho’s Sapana, one of my favourite restaurants in Tokyo, is also located in a bland suburban station mall, so I know that the insipid location doesn’t necessarily make for a bland curry. That said, I’ve been to a number of mall-based Indian shops that measured from mediocre to infuriatingly poor, so Tandoor was open for a good year in Kashiwa before I bothered to try it.
For the late afternoon lunch shift I attended, Tandoor was run by a friendly Japanese woman on the floor and, as far as I could see, a single chef in the kitchen. The decor is also rather spare - white walls and red seats, Indian music playing quietly in the background, and the usual pairs of young and old couples having mild curry and loads of naan.
I ordered a 2-curry lunch set - rather pricey at 1,500 yen and highly disappointing in its carb options. Like many places in Japan Tandoor offers unlimited naan and rice (a pretty boring Japanese turmeric rice, to boot) which is entirely pointless considering it’s a chore to get through even the first massive plank of naan attached to every meal. No basmati, no paratha roti or chapati, just loads of naan and rice. As my fellow diners ordered naan after naan after naan however, I can’t exactly blame the restaurant - gotta give the people what they want - he said sourly. A small bonus, they do offer a small draft beer with the lunch set. It’s not a Kingfisher, and the customary service papad was missing, but I’ll still take it over an oolong tea.
Another strike against - I asked for both curries to be as hot as they can make it, and after politely repeating myself a few times to get the message across the waitress assured me that she’d bring some chilli powder for me to add. This is almost as sacrilegious to me as putting melty cheese in an Indian curry. Luckily the Lawabdar had enough spice cooked in - compliments to the chef - but rather than muck up the Masala with powder I left it in its lunch curry mediocrity.
Next time on The Hunt for the Red-Hot Local: Chris ventures into an abandoned old backstreet curry house - is it haunted with ghostly denizens or humming with gastronomic delights? Find out next time!