By Mick Nippard
In my opinion, food is much more than a means to fuel the human body. Food has the power to bring people together, to transport you to foreign lands, to teach you about different cultures and to bring back long lost memories. More than anything, I think of food as magic and its culinary creators as master magicians and skilled storytellers. Juntara Indian restaurant in Higashi Sapporo is as magical as it gets. This small but charming eatery has become a favorite of my friends and I, popping in for our spice fix at least once a month. Walking into Juntara feels like stepping into a tea house in Northern India or Nepal. Old bells chime as you open the door, incense burns softly, the smell of delicate spices floats through the air and prayer flags and photographs of the Himalayas decorate the walls. Closing the door behind you on your way in seems to close the door on Japan and open another into South Asia. Magic.
The shining stars of Juntara are its many curries. Ranging in spices, color and content, it's pretty hard to go wrong with any. My go to is the daahl masala, a creamy yellow lentil curry that when paired with garlic naan, hits all the right chords. The generous menu selection will have you wanting to keep coming back and make your way down the list of curries.
The owner and chef of Juntara is from Pokhara, Nepal. He welcomed us with open arms when we first visited and is always smiling from ear to ear when we return. He knows our usual order and is always up for a friendly chat.
It's this warmth that sees us come back time and time again. They've crafted food so special that with each delicious mouthful you experience a little of India and Nepal. Momentarily transported from Japan and from the familiar. If you're in Sapporo and you're on the hunt for some authentic curry, there's no better place than Juntara, the magical Indian oasis where the curry is spicier, the chai sweeter and the service brighter.
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My first encounter with Japan was in June 2013, when I spent a month in Tokyo/Hiroshima interning for Japan Travel. I knew from the moment that I set foot in this mesmerising country that one month would not nearly be enough time to enjoy what Japan has to offer. So here I am back in Japan, this time living and working in Sapporo City and brimming with excitement about the adventures that await around the corner!