For Japanese locals and foreign residents who haven’t delved as deep into Indian cuisine, the average lunch set is par for the course for Indian food. A choice of two curries (with generic names like “Vegetable Curry”, “Egg Curry”, “Bean Curry”), a massive slab of naan, and a little salad, finished off with chai or lassi - this is Indian food to many people in Tokyo. It’s understandable that restaurants would want to cater to the tastes of the locals, and I know nothing sells better in Japan than mild Butter Chicken or Keema and a naan the size of your head. Our mission at JIMC is to raise the bar amongst our readers and introduce a better way, but in the meantime there’s no denying the lowest common denominator. With that in mind, I set out recently to try the well regarded Ghungroo in Omotesando, this time sidestepping the JIMC way to see what they can do with their lunch sets.
The first things I noticed were very good signs. First, their lunch plate (just over ¥1,000) offered a choice of Paratha instead of Naan, and even included a short description to inform people who think Naan is the only bread from that part of the world. The other happy omen was the option of a Dosa lunch. The chef is said to hail from Kerala, so I was very tempted to try this celebrated South Indian dish, but in the end I chose to test Ghungroo on the merits of their curries and opted for the lunch plate.
The Mutton Curry was decent - big chunks of mutton (though a bit tough) in a sauce that was well balanced and moderately fragrant. I wonder what they would have called it on the dinner menu - Mutton Masala I suppose - and though it was well prepared, it was a rather unexciting dish. The Chana Dal, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. Chock full of chick peas it was almost hard to scoop up with the paratha, and the flavours were much more vibrant than the mutton. The highlight of the meal, however, was the paratha - hot and fresh it was expertly cooked, with just the right amount of buttery glisten on the top. Naturally everyone else around me had their giant naan boards, but I was grateful that the restaurant had at least offered us the choice.