Thursday, August 20, 2009

Shahi Dawat, Kanda (シャヒ・ダワット)

I reached several resolutions over lunch today, my friends.

The first is that I need to do something more interesting with these posts. Daily mediocre lunches are getting tiring for me, so I shudder to think what they're like for you. I pledge that I will include at least one thing in every post that I judge interesting, or else I'll label the post clearly as 'boring' so you can come back another day. This will not be a boring post (in my judgement).

The second, inspired by this George Orwell essay from 1946, is that I need to make a concerted effort to inject simplicity into my writing, or perhaps to infuse it with brevity. No, scratch that - I need to write simply and clearly.

Today was the first incidence of someone refusing to have lunch with me because of the no-repeats rule. He wanted to repeat a very nice curry place that we went to recently. I offered to find another curry place, or anything else he wanted, but never heard back. Big boo hoo! To make myself feel better, I found the highest-rated curry place in Kanda and I went there. In the process, I found a blog all about curry in Kanda. Their current review is Go-Go Curry. Looking at a Major Curry still makes me feel queasy after the time I got sick on one in Akiba.

Is this simpler? I'm not sure. Well, let me carry on with a quick overview of the food before I get to the interesting part. I had the Special Set, three types of curry plus naan or rice, plus a tiny cabbage salad served in a metal cup with traditional Indian Thousand Island dressing. You can choose your three curries from chicken, lamb, veg, seafood and daily special (spinach, already finished). The naan wasn't enough to finish three cups of curry, so I got a half-plate of rice that they charged an extra Y100 for. By the length and smell, it was actual basmati rice, and I didn't mind paying for that in comparison to the glutinous short-grain rice many people serve with their curries. The flavors were a bit sweet and a bit bland. Vegetable curry in particular seems to be an excuse in Japan for restaurants to put frozen vegetables into generic curry. The seafood was strongly flavored with shrimp and white fish flavors (though without much meat), so I'd recommend that in the future.

Great, here's what I found interesting. The people were noticably different from those in normal restaurants - light skin and almost surly demeanor; definitely disinterested. I thought they looked more northern than most Indian restauranteurs. The decorations of the place also looked northern, like the bright rainbow colors of the tassles hung on the wall. To finish the thought, I finally noticed a small poster for Khukuri Coronation Rum. You may know this as the dagger-shaped bottle that hangs behind the bar at Fal, or else the bottle that Lil' Wolf received as a present from his friend - it's Nepalese rum. Turned out they were Nepalese. I sure don't think the food had anything to do Nepal, but that's a hazard of opening an ethnic restaurant in a foreign country - you need to dip a bit towards the most readily-remembered country and cuisine in your native region.

Khukuri Rum's bottle is shaped like a khukuri, which is the curved, leaf-shaped dagger used by the famous British Gurkha army regiments. Gurkhas are one of the Indian ethnic groups (in this case from the north and Nepal) formed by a loose combination of religion, geography and race (I'm thinking of Sikhs here especially, but you could say similar things about, ohhh, Patels or Jains or Jews. Though different in each case.). The British army designated them as a 'Martial Race', which I imagine is shorthand for 'Blimey, those little brown buggers will fight like the very devil himself in our armies for almost no pay! What ho!', and they served in the British Indian Army and now both the British and independent Indian armies. They were in the news in May as the UK government awarded residency rights to any Gurkhas who served more than 4 years (which they would not otherwise have had, being likely Nepalese, which was pretty cheeky of the UK seeing as they were fighting for Blighty and all that rot). This campaign was amusingly figureheaded by Joanna Lumley (Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, minor Bond Girl part, "You've Got Mail" voice for AOL in the UK) since she was born in Kashmir while her father served in a Gurkha regiment.

Heavens, I could free-associate like this all day. Well, at least one of us finds it interesting. I hope the above has been clear, if not brief.

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