Top 3 Indian restaurants in Tokyo: recommendations from an Indian ‘Gaijin’

I rarely go to Indian restaurants. It’s not that I dislike them. I’m just very fussy when it comes to Indian food. Don’t you dare put anything on my plate that my mum won’t approve of. Food that is heavily catered to the Japanese palate is not for me. I’m also not a fan of the greasy takeout type restaurant. I want soul food. You know what I’m talking about. I want a meal that takes me back to my thousands of years of heritage with that first bite. 

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On the rare occasion that I do walk into an Indian restaurant in Japan, an awkward three seconds ALWAYS go by. Oh… you’re one of us. Brown people are rare in Japan. A brown woman with no husband or kids? I might as well be a unicorn. In my line of work, I mainly deal with Japanese people and the occasional Westerner. I’m used to being an outsider. I’ve been one of them for so long that I’m almost startled by the revelation that I can also be one of us

To date – the best Indian restaurant I’ve been to in Japan has been in Kobe. That was over two years ago and I wish I remembered the details of the restaurant. Ah well… You live, you learn. In the meantime, let me tell you about my favourite Indian restaurants in the Tokyo area.

3. Ganesha

This place is near Tokyo Tower and easy to access if you’re in the area for sightseeing. A friend of mine who’s a big fan of Indian food and a regular at Ganesha brought me here one evening. The menu is pretty standard – but the food is good, fresh and authentic. The service is warm and the prices are reasonable. Oh and we all got free lassi on the house. My friend was super jealous. He’s been going there for years and never got free anything. He said my presence also magically made the food spicier. The joys of having brown friends. 

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Salty lassi. Image courtesy of Raksanand.

2. Dhaba India

Ok – now this place is special. Firstly, they have dosai. YAY! I love dosai. It’s an old childhood favourite of mine. They’ve also got other South Indian specialities like green banana and cauliflower coconut curry, Mangalorian crab curry and the like. A lot of the dishes were new – even to me. I approve. This place is always super busy so be prepared to wait. I HIGHLY recommend Dhaba India if you’re looking for something that’s not same old same old. YUM YUM YUM. Drool…

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1. Mumbai

Mumbai is a chain restaurant that has branches all over the Tokyo area. I’ve been to the one in Mark IS Place in Yokohama and let me tell you – I’m still in awe of the palak paneer. It was to DIE FOR. The naan was outstanding and the paneer was soft and delectable. The cuisine here is pretty standard and features all the old restaurant favourites. Having said that, it’s the most value for money place I’ve been to in Japan. Generous portions. Good price. Great food. Friendly staff. And yes – I got a lassi on the house. The joys of being my brown. My mum would love this restaurant – and when you think about it, that’s all that really matters. 

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