In the old-fashioned neighborhood of Yanaka, Darjeeling restaurant subtly stands out from the rest of the storefronts, with its homemade door frame and gold decorations. And if Indian cuisine doesn’t tickle your fancy, you should at least have some afternoon tea and enjoy the wonderful and cozy environment.
Yellow and red fabric with various simplistic designs billowed from the ceiling. Each chair had intricate carvings that looked like it took weeks to complete. Every nook and cranny of Darjeeling was occupied with gold, silver or wooden trinkets. Above our table were a few skylights and a sitar hung proudly on the light pink wall.
For those who do like Indian food, Darjeeling definitely hit the spot. A variety of curries, tikka, masala, and other vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are served. The restaurant opens at 11:00 a.m. with lunch, and dinner goes until 10:00 p.m. Reasonably priced lunch sets are served Monday through Friday only.
The menu is mostly in Japanese with large pictures of the food and the names of each dish in English. Yet the friendly staff speaks both English and Japanese. Strike up a conversation with the owner, and he’ll tell you how he got started in his restaurant chain, with his other location being in Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku.
As an opening to the appetizer, complementary papadum—thin, crunchy cracker—was served with three different chutneys: a sweet red, spicy red and spicy green. Naturally, be wary about sauces with seeds, as they’ll be the spiciest.
Samosas, at a set of two for ¥400, were served to us with the sweet red chutney and were absolutely divine. For the main lunch course, we ordered garlic and plain naan, chicken kashmir and cheese kofta for the table of two. Either dish wasn’t very spicy but rather leaning on the slightly sweeter side, having cherries in both. Yet of course if you feel the need to turn up the heat, you can use the chutney on the table as a supplement.
With full bellies, we sat back in our pillowy chairs, enjoying the pleasing aesthetics and the alternating sitar and Bollywood music videos playing in the background. Darjeeling is a perfect stop after a day of exploring Yanaka Ginza.