Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hongokutei, Kanda (本石亭)

It's always Kanda. This could be a new pattern - have a bit of a stroll up there for lunch, try to go to a different place every day...oh, I'm already in that pattern. Let's keep the streak going.

Today even managed to stretch to accomodate a special request; lunch with Gita and Zone started with a request from Gita for 'spicy', a reference to the fact that he had recently returned from one of the world's great Indian cities, Seattle (Redmond, really). Conveniently, the place I had my eye on from yesterday was a curry restaurant, and though I suspected it of being Japanese curry, turned out to be quite good. I even recommend it, which brings the number of recommended curry places in Kanda to two!

HGT is anomlaous. Tucked into a corner of Kanda that's almost comically decrepit, it's at the back of a U-shaped alley that winds between several other, nicer buildings. It's the kind of alley that has some weeds growing in the back, so no one's getting back there a whole lot. But it has a bunch of really retro-looking places (in the sense that they haven't been painted for 30 years), and HGT stands out due to its wood-framed, gently-peeling white exterior. It's almost like a little Swiss cottage tucked into an alpine meadow. So of course they specialize in curry rice!

Specializing in curry is a funny thing. In the past, I noticed a lot of places whose signage indicated 'curry and coffee'. A theory advanced at the time was that these are both simple things, but ones that reward deep study with increasing quality benefits. (Another theory was that sad male office workers like to stretch their limited allowances as far as possible, so you get more share of wallet by having the traditional lunch and the traditional time waster under one roof.). Certainly HGT gives every impression of being really into their curry. And, oddly, their whisky - there are a good 30 bottles on a shelf. Put this together with two staff wearing black suits, plus the Heidi exterior, and you've got a truly unique little place.

And you know what? The curry seems good! They were out of the most popular choice, keema, so we all had the Indian-style curry (there's also a European style and a dry curry). This was a very thick, very very spicy, oily stew of mainly vegetables with a nugget or two of chicken (in a bowl with rice). I say oily by way of conveying that it was thick but not coconutty; it didn't feel greasy or oppressive, and the massive quantities of spice weren't confined to pepper but spread broadly across the spectrum of brown tastes. The staff were overjoyed when Gita pronounced it very tasty and authentic; I have the feeling they'll be telling their customers and curry-shop buddies "A real Indian loved my curry!" for months, and we were all happy that they were happy.

You're not trying to curry favor, are you?

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