Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Raj, Marunouchi

Hugo (or Julito, as we like to call him, being in a perpetually Spanish frame of mind these days) was in The City for only a few days, and thus the old team resolved to spend a bit of time together. Bizarrely, our attempt to simplify matters while still meeting his request for 'simple Japanese food' by dropping by the 5th floor of Shin Maru met only with cold-hearted rejection. Tuesday night in a recession...oh, you don't have a reservation? We were turned away from 4 places before giving in and eating Indian out of desperation.

It should be a bad sign when your restaurant of choice is one of the uncrowded ones, or it could be a sign that it really IS a recession. Perhaps the lower-priced Japanese options fill up first, much as Applebee's is probably crowded all the time these days? Raj is a place that I've walked by many times in various types of company and never felt compelled to go in - for lunch, they seem to be pushing the Y2500 set, which is just nutty (I recognize my slight bias against expensive 'ethnic' food, but it's still nutty). But the people outside asking for your custom look interestingly northern, I'd like to say Nepalese if I had any idea, which I don't, and are friendly. And we were getting desperate. So we went in.

Let's not worry about the atmosphere and service, OK? They're fine. The food is actually really good! (says me) We started with samosas, which were big, very flaky, and filled in an interesting (included beans) and differently-spiced way. After that we got into curries and rice and naan. The Murg Mahal was smooth, yellow, nutty and had a few pieces of chicken in it. The Chili Lamb was dark, rich, spicy and had a few pieces of lamb in it. Aloo Gobi (dry curry, potatoes, cauliflower) was, oddly, the standout - just the spicing was great. A biryani was nice, with ample flavor cooked into it and a big side dish of raita. Seriously, all of this tasted great, as did the naan. There's a suitable tandoor section also, which we didn't get into.

If you didn't pick it up before, the drawback here is that the sizes were small and the prices high. Each of the curry items (including the biryani) was about Y1600, and was significantly little. That said, I don't think anyone felt underfed by 3 curries, two rices, 2 naans, 4 samosas and 4 drinks, although the Y13,500 we spent seems a little rich.

Perhaps best for visiting Indian royalty?

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