I had a fairly curry-tastic few days, visiting a couple of my regular places over the weekend. First, on Friday, I made it over to Tandoori Asian Dining in Nishi-Chiba for a Chicken Jhanjari, while my dining partner went for the Chicken Tikka Masala, which always hits the spot. With this came their trademark, perfectly cooked paratha, some nice samosas as a starter, and a complimentary curry thrown in, which the chef conjoured up especially for us -- I asked what it was, but it didn't come with an official name. Very tasty though.
Next, for Sunday lunch I headed over to my local in Motoyawata: Sapna. I'm always impressed with the way they prepare their lunch sets as a lot of the time this can be hit and miss, with some restaurants going for the ladle and vat approach. Sapna's lunch curries are freshly prepared and all have a good layering of flavour, the best being the keema, which was came replete with a variety of herbs and spices. I'm just hoping for the day they start serving basmati and offer a wider range of breads -- I live in hope!
Finally, I discovered a new restaurant in Motoyawata that has just recently opened, so I'll be trying that the first chance I get. Though it looks from its exterior to be a pretty standard Indian restaurant, the menus outside explain that it serves "South Indian food" and, specifically, dosa. "Dosa has come to Motoyawata!", I nearly belted out, looking around for someone to grab a hold of and tell excitedly, but managing to curb myself just in time. Great that from now on I won't have to travel to Tokyo to get my fill of this southern Indian staple. I now have the hottest curry in Tokyo (probably Japan), the best Chicken Masala I've ever had, and dosa within walking distance from my house. Bliss.
After a day of grind on Saturday, a top curry outing was in order, so I ventured down to Ginza to hit Andhra Dining with some work friends. There's a whole menu of tantalising offerings at Andhra but it was only ever going to be one choice: thali with refills. Over a few beers and poppadoms, I took it upon myself to explain how thali should be eaten (I had been carefully instructed how to do this at the other Andhra in Ueno a few months back), explaining that the sambar and rasam should be poured onto the basmati, while the other curries should be picked up and eaten in tandem with the chapati. The thalis were brought out – sambar and rasam on repeat, coconut poriyal, Indian pickle, and a selection of three curries: mutton, prawn, and black pepper chicken on the bone. Slap bang in the middle of all this was a bundle of basmati (on repeat), with a poppadom on top, and a thin, perfectly prepared chapati. The server was still laying out the food when I asked him if I could double up on the basmati. His eyes lit up and with a “Certainly, sir! We have plenty!” he headed back to the kitchen. Before I could start mixing the curries in the “appropriate way”, the server came back and dumped a huge mound of rice on my plate – heaven!
I thought it would be a good moment to confirm what I'd heard about how thali should be eaten, and I got to about that point in the sentence – “Thali should be eaten like th...?” – when the server reached down and grabbed the sambar, dumping half of it on the rice, then the same quantity of rasam, then the same amount of the other curries. I started again “Aren't they supposed to be...?” and the server picked up my spoon and fed me a large portion of curry drenched mutton and basmati, which caught me a bit off guard to say the least. It certainly put my focus on eating rather than going on about how to eat. That spoonful, as well as everything that followed, was a pure delight, and I had so much basmati it was obscene. And as the server told us at the end, when you eat in India, you just eat...and eat and eat until you are fully satisfied. Don't hang about. I would eat at Andhra every day if i could. I'll probably keep my questions to a minimum the next time I go there, though, and remind myself that getting fully stuck in is a lot more important than being too precious about a set of prescribed rules.
JIMC is adding three new restaurants to its ever-growing list of places to visit in and around Tokyo. If you have any restaurants you would like to recommend (as long as there's curry, we're game), please contact us here or let us know through FB or Twitchat.
Sathi, Shibuya: http://curry-tokyo.com/
Bharati Darjeeling, Bunkyo Hongo: http://www.bharati-restaurant.com/
Hira, Ginza: http://hira-corporation.co.jp/