...an expat libertine with a penchant for sparkly dining partners, jazz bars and izakaya.
Opinions here expressed are not necessarily shared by any with whom I associate. Fault for errors and any offense caused is entirely my own.

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Entries in Indian (6)


Ghungroo, Minami Aoyama  ゴングル、南青山

An unexpected lunch call led to this neat Indian restaurant on a side street off Aoyama Dōri, opposite Kinokuniya. Apparently a popular spot for lunch and dinner, Ghungroo was pleasantly busy, but not overly so. Not having to queue to get in was welcome, as was the friendly, efficient service.

Neglecting the basic lunch sets, we ordered from the “Chef’s Menu” lunch options, choosing saag with cheese, accompanied by a large, lightly baked naan, rather than rice. Both curry and naan were flavoursome, although the former was not as good as some.

Some Internet comments suggest that both the quality of the food and the service has declined since the restaurant moved premises – the previous iteration being still visible on the other side of the street – but, we had no complaints with either. I’ve the impression that most dishes here are adapted to Japanese tastes, so this is probably not the place for a truly “authentic” Indian dining experience, but still keen to visit Ghungroo for dinner, all the same.

Attractive sugar bowl

Cheese saag with naan

Tidy interior





Magic India, Shimoda  マジックインディア、下田

Magic India was a truly awesome dining experience. Unforgettable even.

At least in that it was without a doubt the worst curry I’ve ever had the misfortune to eat. Strangely, it was so bad that it became somehow amusing.

The drab interior and dirty apron should have been warning enough. The curry sets came with either rice or naan. The rice was the typical Japanese out-of-the-rice-cooker variety, unloving spread upon a plate. The naan had a kind of soapy flavour. I didn’t want to ask why. 

My mushroom and saag curry contained very few mushrooms or spinach, and my dining partners lamb curry very little lamb. Both curries were thin, watery and utterly tasteless. I kept thinking of Heinz oxtail soup for some reason…



Magic India


Khana, Nishishinjuku  カナ、西新宿

Khana is simply a small, rather nondescript Indian/ Pakistan eatery in Nishishinjuku 6-Chome, tucked away in the shadow of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, roughly halfway between the Nishishinjuku and Nakanosakaue stations.

Nothing much to look at from the street – if not for the menu displayed on the pavement you’d miss the shadowy entrance – the interior is basic, too. The TV, loudly displaying stupefying variety shows, dominated proceedings. 

No need to go out of your way to try this place, and certainly not for an evening meal. But, if you are in the area at lunchtime, you could do worse. 

For around ¥780 the various lunch sets provide a filling, tasty meal mainly based around a small bowl of salad (poor) and rice (average), light fluffy naan (good, but not Nepalese restaurant good – i.e., not the same size as a skateboard) and a fair sized bowl of curry, all served on a platter.

Two of us had the chicken curry, and one the spinach and cheese curry. No complaints, not much chat, didn’t last long and suitably fall when we left. The service was friendly, in Japanese or English. 

The website shows lunch sets consisting of more than they actually do.





Suryashi, Kami-Itabashi, スルエシー、上板橋

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.




Taj Palace, Tokiwadai  タージパレス、常盤台

This small neighborhood Indian restaurant seems not to a do a brisk trade. I can’t recall ever having seen anyone there – except the kitchen staff, of which there are two. One busy the other endlessly preparing tandoori chicken on huge skewers. Another guy waits the floor.

The interior is instantly forgettable. No flock wallpaper, but there is a huge photograph of the Taj Mahal taking up the rear wall.

The menu offers a good range of very reasonably priced dishes. The portions aren’t the best you’ll find, but neither are they the worst. The garlic naan is a good example, being nowhere near as impressive as those from Jau Hai! or Manakamana.

Various starters and salads, then curries, rice (very poor – soft Japanese rice yellowed with saffron powder), breads and deserts are offered. All the curries are available in full or half sets, complete with rice and naan. Most curries have several heat/ strength options, indicated by little caricatures depicting a chubby face in varying expressions of distress.

I asked for my chicken saag to be prepared “very hot,” which in truth was “not ‘f*!@ing hot,’ sir, but a medium-spiced dish.” The flavour was okay, the chicken scant, and the texture thick and creamy.

The shish kebab was, to be honest, a waste of time. The Taj Mahal green salad, was average, too, like those served at cheap izakaya

My dining partner opted to have two half sets – the chicken curry and the mushroom keema. Taste-wise reasonable, but overall a bit thin… Lacking “body.” As was the whole experience. No chutnies to accompany the admittedly lacklustre papadums, and no effort whatsoever to create any character or "quirk" for the place. Why bother? 





Mumbai, Kagurazaka  ムンバイ、神楽坂

Finding a decent (non-Japanese) curry in Tokyo ceased to be a problem long ago. Restaurants offering curry of one persuasion or another abound. Nepali – or Indo-Nepali fusion – outlets seem to have sprung up on every street. 

Among all that Kagurazaka has to offer, Mumbai is hardly exceptional. It is, nonetheless, a reasonable restaurant serving decent food at decent prices. Part of a chain, I recall my first encounter with a Mumbai was a visit to one somewhere near Marunouchi or Ginza. At the time, I grumbled about the small portions. But then, the memory of England’s Indian restaurants was still too fresh in my mind.

These days, the portions at Mumbai tend not to offend the eye, and the belly less. Besides, the ample naan (although neither as ample nor arousing as those at Jau Hai! or Manakamana, especially when it comes to the garlic variety) are usually more than enough to sate most appetites. The chapattis are somewhat disappointing. Too greasy; not dry and floury/dusty feeling as they ought to be.

The samosas are excellent. A more imaginative salad garnish – or none at all – would improve the presentation and experience though. The saag chicken, now my benchmark test for curry restaurants, is rich and thick in both flavour and texture. Not at all “pureed” feeling, as so many turn out to be. 

Not quite as rich as a good madras, the Hyderabad chicken was delicious, too. Next time the Mumbai special seems in order. Many of my dining partners enjoy the butter chicken curry. Whether this is due to its being particularly good or just a cultural/ ladies’ taste buds related thing is a mystery to me though.

Both the mango and black sesame ice cream are tasty, with the sesame being the better of the two, if I had to choose. The kulfi isn’t bad either, but then I have only a limited experience of the stuff upon which to base my judgment.

The drink menu supplies all the usual suspects. One time – and sadly only one time – they were doing some crazy deal on glass wine. Anything from the wine list for ¥100 or something similar. Was a great night. Can’t remember much about the curry on that visit though…

Mumbai perhaps deserves a few points for not overdoing the ethnic decoration. It’s actually rather understated, yet funky, inside. Not spacious, but clean and nicely lit, with the various booths and partitions providing privacy. Service has ranged from exemplary to hostile. But then I tend bring that out in people…

Where’s it sit? Jau Hai! is still number one, overall, when they remember to serve the food while it’s hot, that is. Manakamana and Mumbai tie in second place, although I almost feel that Mumbai’s curries are “technically” better than those of the other two, but as noted above the naan leave something to be desired.

Sapana isn’t even in the same league.