Curry Leaves
Kinshicho: Indian
Curry Leaves (Kinshicho: Indian)
Curry Leaves
Open 11am-2, 5-8pm (LO) daily.
Sun: Open Sundays

It's one of the great mysteries of modern Tokyo. Why go to a South Indian restaurant and order the naan bread and butter chicken curry, the same combo available in every curry place in town? Alas, it's a typical scene at the great little South Indian cafe Curry Leaves (named for the fragrant leaf of the Bergera koenigii tree) in the backstreets of Kinshicho.

It's even more mystifying when the menu is packed with tasty specialties from Kerala and Tamil Nadu (the owners are from the two large southernmost states). Such as Marabar biryani, Kerala dry beef curry, Masala Dosa crepes, Danish-pastry-like parotta breads, smorgasbord-style Meals, lemon rice, and all kinds of dessert dosa.

In fact, all your favorite South Indian delicacies are here, plus a few more. The biryani is offered in two varieties, chicken and mutton, and it's prepared in the Marabar style. The meats and spices are cooked on the bone with the rice in a clay pot to infuse the flavors throughout the dish. It comes with saucers of raita (yogurt) and chutney, but you might want to order a side curry if you like your biryani sloppy.

The dosas (crepes) here arehuge and take up most of the plate. My favorite is the classic Masala Dosa: A large crispy crepe comes with a big dollop of masala potato in the center, with a set of three tasty chutneys on the side. The Parotta Lunch comes with two parotta breads, a chicken curry and a choice of Kerala beef or mutton. The Kerala beef is a really rib-sticking dish: large chunks of beef cooked on the bone and packed with flavor and spice. It's almost like a Malaysian Rendang.

The classic Meals set is a real smorgasbord of flavors. Along with a piece of chicken tikka and a crispy fried papad you get four side dishes (rich chicken curry, hot Sambar, sour Rasam soup and a coconut and vegetable mix known as Thoran) to mix with the Basmati rice.

The hot chai comes in a teapot, so you get a couple of cups of sweet masala tea for the price of one.

At lunchtime there's often a line of hungry Japanese and Indian customers, so it's best to get there pre-noon or after 1pm.

Budget about Y1,100-1,400 for lunch, and Y3,000-4,000 yen for dinner with drinks.

by Raj Jaffrey

Sumida-ku, Kinshi 3-13-1.

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Venue listing from Bento.com4 Star Rating: recommended