I have had a lot of rubbish Indian food. Let’s not remember Moti in Roppongi.
There are a lot of places highly rated that I have found utterly underwhelming: Rasoi in Meguro and Dhaba in Kyobashi to name but two. SITAARA Aoyama was so bland and boring it was absolute joke, although they served possibly the nicest mango lassi I’ve ever had. Be thankful for small mercies.
However, a friend insisted I tried Kaccharu Baccharu (カッチャルバッチャル).
“I also look at the rankings on Tabelog,” she told me. “Forget about a score of over 3.5, I always try the restaurants ranked number 1.”
Indeed, Kaccharu Baccharu is ranked #1 for Indian food in Tokyo with an impressive 4.04 rating, especially when considering the reasonable price range of 3000 – 4000 yen for dinner.
Approaching from the street, it’s actually fairly easy to miss the door, which leads directly to a staircase to take you the small, upstairs restaurant. There are a few counter seats and two to three tables. Cosy and snug are sympathetic terms for a space that is a little cramped.
I was a bit excited by a menu that has too many seemingly delicious things on it. To calm myself, I got a mango lassi (480 yen) straight on order.
We then got a little nosy in the cosy little space, noticing colourful boxes of curries lined up on the shelf. The waitress kindly lined them up on the counter for us, which made a great photo but also made a great accidental game of dominoes…
The “Katchar Batchar” curry probably is how the store actually want their name to be spelled but the Japanese literally translates as Kaccharu Baccharu, which sounds so much fun I’m sticking to it. I imagine a rickety rickshaw being dragged round chaotic Indian streets and dishing out awesome street food.
But back to the reality of Indian food in a country that doesn’t have much of a relationship with spices or herbs, we got stuck into ordering.
First up, a little hors d’oeuvres of lamb seekh kebab (680 yen). And this is when I instantly knew I had come to a place that was various serious about cooking. Look at those kebabs. Slightly pink lamb meat cut up and mixed with herbs and spices. Finally. An Indian restaurant in Tokyo that actually used proper ingredients and made the taste sing.
We also shoved some cheese kulcha (580 yen) into our faces, which I must admit wasn’t the most sophisticated of dishes, but what can you expect from a fatter, doughier version of a naan bread loaded with cheese?
The biggest dilemma really were the curries. When I’ve got kebabs like that taunting me, how am I going to choose just one curry? Dining with an adventurous friend, of course, meant great news for sharing. We decided to go for a fish curry and their signature mutton curry (1080 yen). But the portions are a little modest and we added the butter chicken into the mix (1000 yen), because why eat two curries, when you can eat three?
The fish curry was the least spectacular of the three, but if I tell you it was fragrant and had a fierce but tempered heat to it, then you may get an idea of the flavours we’re dealing with here.
The butter chicken, in almost every Indian restaurant in Japan as an anaemic and sickly sweet affair, had a richness and depth I didn’t know possible. Warm, aromatic but smooth.
Then there was the spicy mutton curry and it simply blew both of us away. It was so rich and tasty I wanted to lick the platter.
Fortunately, we had ordered the Kabuli naan (580 yen) stuffed with figs and nuts. The slight sweetness made a perfect accompaniment.
I literally was laughing with glee by the time I was half way through. And planning what I would eat next time. And how many people I could fit into the tiny restaurant so I could then steal “tasters” of all their dishes. I don’t think like that at all. Nope.
I tried to talk to the wonder guy who was doing all the cooking, but he wasn’t the most conversational of types. He continued about his cooking duties, with a slight frown of utter dedication to perfecting his art – a trait well-captured by the Japanese word “kodawari”. He ain’t got no time for compliments!
However, I think the lady was rather amused by my high spirits, or she was doing her best to smile for my camera as she poured our post-meal chai. Which was beautifully aromatic and bitter – you add the amount of sugar you require, if you require it at all. I do. Cinnamon, cardamom and cloves are made for a bit of sweetening in my book!
As I tipped some extra sugar into my cup, I had more uncontrollable giggles. I was on that much of a food high…
Kaccharu Baccharu 4.5/5 – Such delicious Indian food that I had to take a half hour walk before I was calm enough to get on a train.
Food 4.5/5 | Value 4.5/5 | Atmosphere 4/5 | Service 4/5
Where: 東京都 豊島区 南大塚 3-2-10 林ビル ２Ｆ
When: Mon – Sat 18:00 – 24:00 (L.O.22:30）
Website: (Tabelog) http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1323/A132302/13120294/