Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Venu's South Indian Dining: Tidy atmosphere, deep flavors

by Robbie Swinnerton

There are no prizes for guessing what’s on the menu at Venu’s South Indian Dining — but there are surprises.

The first is that it doesn’t look much like most other Indian restaurants in town. It’s simple and tidy, with a pastel blue paint job around the open kitchen and none of the usual visual or musical trappings. The second is the depth of flavor you find in the food here.

Like the owner, three of the chefs hail from Chennai in southeastern India, and they don’t stint on the spices. You’ll find cardamom and cassia bark, cumin and cloves, plenty of peppercorns and appropriate levels of chili heat. Along with the 20 or more curries, they also produce great dosa pancakes, plus the whole range of tiffin light snacks that make south Indian food so memorable.

There’s also one chef from the north of India who mans the obligatory tandoor oven. Besides the usual nan breads, he also produces excellent tandoori chicken — don’t miss the hariyali tikka, smothered with mint and coriander herb.

Or, order the top-of-the-line ¥2,000 Venu’s thali (set meal) and prepare to feast like you’re deep in the warmth of south India rather than in the chilly back streets of eastern Tokyo.

Lunch ¥1,000; set dinner from ¥1,500, also a la carte; English menu; English spoken

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