I've always considered my local Indian restaurant to be great. Sapna is an absolute gem of a place. I wrote about it when I first started to write posts about my local area on the blog ichixfuna. I then wrote about it again as the first post for JIMC (ironically stating that I knew of 5 restaurants in my area, then I found another one shortly after – the beauty of seeking and finding). Despite the plethora of Indian and Nepalese restaurants in the local and surrounding areas, I would very rarely stray away from my favourite. It's hands down better than any other in terms of food, service, atmosphere and value. Though I think it shows how you can become really attached to just one place, and especially so when you've been going there for several years. You also end up choosing the same dish - I read once that there's no point looking at a menu in restaurants you are used to because you know what you are going to order anyway, even if you think you should try something different. Your brain just thinks “I don't want to risk getting anything less than what I know will satisfy me.” And as you become a more mature restaurant goer, this probably rings true even more so.
It wasn't an exaggeration at the time when I thought it was the best Chicken Masala I had had. It still holds up, even though I've been to several amazing restaurants since. The important thing was getting out there and seeing how it ranked against the rest. As mentioned above, if I hadn't started writing a second blog dedicated to my passion for Indian cuisine, I probably wouldn't have ventured much further than my local. That highlights how important it is to step out of your comfort zone from time to time and to start experimenting with a few different options – even if some may prove to be less than what you've gotten used to. The JIMC crew have been to some amazing places so far: Mumbai, Ahilya, Kerala Bhavan, Dhaba India just being a few.
I went to Sapna for lunch on Saturday. The second most expensive set is great value at ¥1050 - two curries, naan and rice (on repeat), salad, shish kebab and Chicken Tikka, and a drink. Sapna has good quality curries, whether it's at lunch or on the evening menu. But there's a caveat – there's no Basmati rice, and though they do bhatura, the other bread option is limited to a selection of naans. That, for us at JIMC now, is not good enough. This curry experience suits the local palette - there appears to be little demand for a quality, authentic Indian curry experience so the restaurant obliges, meeting the customers' needs. In my mind, Sapna is a step away from being great and if it could level up in terms of what compliments the curry, it would be a fantastic curry experience as opposed to just a very good one.