Yet another Tōbu-Tōjō line budget Nepalese/ Indian restaurant doing a fine line in value for money lunches, Suryashi is a few minutes from Kami-Itabashi station's north exit. Although not in the same league as Ōyama's Manakamana it surpasses Tokiwadai's Taj Palace on all counts.
The restaurant's facade is actually far more inviting than the photo here would lead you to believe. Something equally homely and "ethnic," almost befitting locations such as Shimo-Kitazawa or Sangenjaya, with just enough effort having been put into the lavishly illustrated (i.e., brimming with photographs) street-side menus to suggest equal attention might even be given to the goings on in the kitchen.
My dining partner and I stopped by for lunch on a Saturday, just before noon. Although we were the first customers through the door, within half an hour or so not a table remained empty. The interior decoration is simple, with a rude bar and kitchen hatch to the rear of space, above which are arranged a collection of wines, spirits and sakes. Tables are set with baskets containing napkins, cutlery and menus. Promotional materials suggest some kind of Everest beer.
The service was good; the owner waiting the floor while a rarely glimpsed other manned the kitchen. The lunch menu was good, too. A selection of simple lunch sets, in several configurations of size, composition and price, were available for under ¥1,000, with tabehōdai rice and naan, as well as a choice of teas, coffee and soft drinks included.
An appetizer of seasonal vegetables curried with white sesame was delicious, even though the flavour of the sesame was less prominent than I'd have liked. My dining partner's Suryashi set was almost identical in size to my Tandoori set apart from the lone tandoori chicken drumstick set in the midst of my large stainless steel platter and surrounded by curries, salad, rice and naan. Despite my distaste for meat on the bone, this drumstick was surprisingly good. Perhaps a little too dry, but no gristle of fat to speak of. The chicken curry also managed to avoid any unfortunate gristle, and no doubt leaving the meat on the bone adds to the flavour. Still, I miss large, succulent pieces of chicken breast in my curries. The curry itself was okay, but lacking in substance. Too smooth, too thin.
The beef curry had more body; thicker, richer tasting and spicier. The meat made no lasting impression, but neither did it offend. Combined with the adequate, if uninspired naan, it was the highlight of the meal. My dining partner's mutton curry was, by all accounts, delicious, although not as well received as the chicken (bones being a favourite...). As is often the case, the rice was pitiful. Coffee - far better than I'd have imagined - brought the meal to its conclusion.
I'm interested to find out what evening dining at Suryashi is like. I expect it might not hold up well when compared to more refined experiences, but for a casual lunch there's little to find fault with.