Sometime last year, I found myself a few pints deep in Kinshicho and craving my favourite food - so much so that I was happy enough to settle for the unassuming little place inside a mini mall attached to the station. Based on its location and decor I was expecting the bog-standard, Japanese-tastebud-pandering, butter chicken and giant naan kind of deal. What I got was an explosion of heat and flavour - a perfect Mutton Masala that was hot enough in both temperature and spice to burn my mouth, but that nonetheless I wolfed down with the relish of a half-cut Indian curry fanatic. So it was with a mixture of excitement and worry (that in the sober light of day it might not live up) that I joined the Mssrs. NaanD and Dhal for a return visit to the fantastic Sapana.
We went at lunch, but being the curry nerds we are ordered off the dinner menu to ensure we sampled them at their best. First out were beautifully crispy papad served with cold, curry-like side sauces; a lovely touch that I recalled in vivid flashback had blown my mind on my initial inebriated visit. We also ordered Fish Tikka, which unfortunately arrived after the main (one of the few complaints I have from the experience.) Then came the curry - my Mutton Do-Pyaaza was resplendent in its copper handi pot - was heaping with large but succulent chucks of mutton, abundant with sweet onions and crunchy peppers, and garnished with two slices of hot green chillies. I needn’t have worried. Every mouthful was a joy. My drunken curry haven was as delicious as I remembered!
A few notes: though this is easily one of my favourite spots in town there were a few weak points this time around. Though I greatly appreciate the presence of chapati on the menu, Sapana’s were tasty but not quite on par with, say, Gandhi in Funabashi. The saffron rice was similarly underwhelming - not bad, but not anything special. As a spice fanatic, I went for the hottest choice available: six peppers - which had me sweating on my first visit. This time my curry was mild at best. Finally, the lateness of the Fish Tikka - not ideal but forgivable considering we were ordering dinner during the lunch rush, and because the Tikka themselves were quite delicious covered in lemon juice and mint sauce.
Even including my handful of complaints from this latest lunch outing, one thing carried over from that miraculous first experience: the curry at Sapana is truly delicious. If you are a fan of the thicker, Nepalese style of curry (of which I am a pure devotee) you won’t be disappointed by this small, ordinary looking shop. Even surrounded by beige hallways and chain stores, Sapana is anything but bland.
Chris P. PapadD