Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dhaba India, Yaesu

Arriving at TY Harbor Brewery in Shinagawa expecting mediocre food, nice views, and a pleasant buzz to go home by, we were disappointed to see even from afar the sheen of white tablecloths and centerpieces. Getting closer, the presence of suited waitstaff loitering by the entrance confirmed out worst fears: wedding.

Milling around, wondering where to go in the relative wasteland that is Shinagawa, we hit on trekking back to the famous Indian hill station at Dhaba. This is a well-known and recently-reviewed destination that was in fact recommended by a new South Indian acquaintance at an otherwise forgettable dinner (actually not that forgettable; I wrote a very cranky post about it!).

Ethnic food has this problem in Japan - you're expecting Southeast Asian, "Wow that was great, you made it in front of me, and it cost a dollar!" and they're in a territory off the map where the territorial motto is 'exotically spiced, exotically priced'. This is Dhaba in a fragrantly-scented nutshell - it does the business taste-wise, but it annoys on the cost side. That said, I'm not sure you can get this kind of food anywhere else, like the shredded coconut curry with shrimp. Or the dosai. It's good stuff. The sets are reasonably-sized for your ~Y1800, but Y1800 really should go a bit farther in most people's minds.

The atmosphere is quite cheerful - at 1 PM+ on a Saturday, it was pretty full, and we got the last table. Things are on the slow side as a result; hopefully you don't mind. One fun way to while away the hours is with Indian wine. I know what you're thinking, but it was fully drinkable. Y700 a glass for the house special, and the red was a lot more drinkable than the white (something about the presence of flavor and absence of chemical aftertaste, I dunno). After a few glasses, the blue walls may confuse you into thinking you're in Jodhpur, the Blue City, which would be a shame because Jodhpur is in the north, as I found once I sobered up and checked the map. Actually we only had one glass each of wine, but I was genuinely confused about the geography.

Goooooooooo Goa!

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