Rather than relying solely on other people's experiences and opinions, JIMC's aim is to get to the heart of Indian cuisine in Tokyo, and that means doing a lot of (very pleasurable) leg work. Looking down the list of highly rated places, we decided that Kerala Bhavan in Nerima would be our next port of call. On the short walk down from the station, PV told us that a friend of his had been to Kerala recently and had been very disappointed, claiming it to be overrated and nothing like the decent reviews it gets online. As Chris and I had travelled an hour to get there, there was a bit of a sinking feeling that we might have been looking forward to it a bit too much.
We were up for trying a few different dishes but started with the normal fare – papad, Chicken Tikka and a few bottles Kingfisher (lunch of champions). We went for Saag Paneer, Varutha Chicken and Mutton Biryani for mains, accompanied by paratha, chapati, samosa and, ladies and gentlemen, Basmati rice (result!). This already made it a thumbs up for me. I just wish more restaurants would at least have the option - I was having a conversation on Twitter with someone yesterday who mentioned that if we all started requesting Basmati rice, something might change on the Indian restaurant scene in Tokyo. No harm in asking, anyway.
The mains and accompanying dishes came shortly after. A great selection of food. PV's Biryani was also made with Basmati rice and was delicious (though more meat and less bone would've been preferred), my Chicken Varutha was a fantastically pleasing south-western dish full of flavour and spice, and Chris P.'s Saag Paneer was the best he has had in Tokyo (unbelievably smooth spinach sauce, in particular). Chris made a good point that the spice level (we had both gone for “as hot as it humanly possible”) was not burning in the mouth but instead was spreading evenly around our bodies – a truly uplifting experience – while PV said next to nothing, quietly sweating buckets as his mouth went numb. Again, it wasn't as hot as some curries I've had – it was actually a completely different experience. Truly wonderful. The bread was a perfect compliment - though, confusingly, the paratha looked like thick chapati and the chapati looked like thin paratha. Couldn't quite determine which was which. Didn't matter. Tasted great!