You could be forgiven for spending your entire life in Kitakyushu without ever having noticed Laxmi, a small, family-run Indian restaurant. So out of the way, it is, that it requires a special level of determination to find without knowing the precise location beforehand. Don't enter into this venture without a good map, or you'll risk losing hours of your life stumbling through seemingly identical city back-streets.
Fortunately, Laxmi offers quality, service, and value-for-money in such vast quantities that seeking it out is most definitely worth it, and luckily, it's just a five minute walk from nearby Katano monorail station. Or, there is a nearby car park (albeit with just 5 spaces) for those willing to try their luck.
Laxmi certainly isn't a high-class, 5-star restaurant, nor is it like one of the more trendy downtown ramen joints. What it is, however, is warm and friendly, due not in small part to the particular kindly waitress. Her English may not be perfect; but she attacks complex English phrases with such enthusiasm that it is hard not to find it endearing. It also means you can feel comfortable here, even without knowing a single word of Japanese—although those wanting to test out a few newly-learnt phrases will be made to feel more than welcome.
Of course, despite best efforts, there is a small chance the language barrier can contribute to slight mistakes in your order; but on the rare occasions I have experienced this, the apology and amendments made have been so heartfelt and generous respectively that it is hard to even note it down as a negative experience.
In fact, many times I've been given drinks or small starters for free for absolutely no discernable reason other than friendliness. It wouldn't be fair to say you should go in expecting freebies, but you shouldn't be surprised if you do end up with a small, complimentary 'thank-you'.
All the friendliness and great atmosphere in the world would of course be pointless if the food didn't match the same standards. It is with great pleasure, then, that I can tell you it most certainly does. Again, this might not be the fanciest meal you've eaten this week, but I can say with confidence that it will be one of the best. All food is freshly prepared—you can even watch the chef doing it, if you like—and is some of the best, most authentic Indian food I've ever tried.
Of particular note is the homemade naan bread. No plate is large enough to contain this beast, and dipped in curry it's so delicious that I could happily forgo having anything else altogether.
Five levels of spice (ranging from 'no spice whatsoever' to 'so-hot-your-tongue-will-forever-curse-your-name') mean that there is something here for everyone. Seriously, though—don't go for spice level 5 unless you know what you're getting into.
I recommend the bizarrely named 'Ladies set' (not just for ladies!), which comes with two different curries, some rice, chicken, a drink, and the aforementioned naan for 1050 yen.
For those wanting something slightly different from the usual Japanese fare, and who are looking for a small yet warm and friendly place to enjoy some authentic Indian curry alone or with some friends, there's nowhere better. There's certainly nowhere I've returned to more.
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