Although any concerns over the lack of decent curry – of the Indian or Nepali variety, rather than the Japanese stuff – in these parts have long since been dispelled, only a few truly deserve praise.
Happily, after 19 years in business, Jiyugaoka’s Taj Mahal still beats all. Well, more or less. In some ways it’s unfair to compare Manakamana with a dedicated Indian, but if the judgment is based purely on the desire to reorder everything a second time, no matter how bloated one feels, then Taj Mahal is king.
Upon entry, the intoxicating, spicy aroma makes the mouth water. Luckily, beer and menu are close at hand.
The interior is decent enough, pinky-purples and off-white softly lit. Service is excellent – friendly, knowledgeable and available in both Japanese and English. One complaint in this area would be that although the Indian staff are keen to recommend “real,” Indian dishes no matter the spiciness, should you be served by one of the Japanese staff, they immediately herd you towards the sweet tasting, Japanese-friendly dishes.
Poppadums and chutney are proffered unrequested (as they ought to be) and are good, if not excellent.
The menu offers an impressive array of dishes, covering the whole gamut of curries demanded by any self-respecting British lager lout.
The inclusion of Madras (the chef hails from the region) and Vindaloo dishes is welcome indeed. The portions are generous, too, which tends to result in feeling rather stuffed by time you’re done. The tandoori chicken, for example, is not only sizable but perfectly succulent and utterly devoid of horrible gristly bits.
Delivery is timely, but not heralded by the ping of a microwave, and the sumptuous dishes spread before you never fail to delight. You can see and feel the ingredients, each dish being richly textured, fresh, aromatic and pleasing to the eye. The chicken do piaza and vegetable curry are something to behold, while the chicken madras is so utterly moreish, so intensely pleasurable, that it is an almost indecent dining experience.
The naan, are also excellent. Light, fluffy, not at all oily, and big. The keema version (or “smelly naan” as the staff put it) offers thick, flavoursome lamb, and the garlic iteration plenty of kick, although not quite as vampire-slayingly divine as that once available here. The cheese naan packs plenty of cheese, but came across as a little bland.
An excellent Indian restaurant, worthy of repeat visits, take away orders (they deliver within Setagaya, Meguro and Ota wards) and party venue status.