Heady, aromatic, hot and nourishing: In these difficult times, we need foods that both stimulate and satisfy. Curry has been Tokyo’s go-to comfort food this COVID-19 summer, so the timing was perfect for the launch of Curry Spice Gelateria Kalpasi in the backstreets of Shimokitazawa this June.
Every day there are three curries, each inspired by the numerous regions of India. Last week the options were Kerala chicken in a lightly piquant coconut milk and tomato gravy; a mild South Indian chickpea-vegetable sambal; and a spiced-up pork keema.
You punch in your order on the (all Japanese) ticket machine by the front door, either two (¥1,200) or all three varieties (¥1,390), served with a mound of basmati rice — a joyful mix of white and red grains, crowned with a small dab of lemon pickle. There are condiments too: cabbage sabzi; chana masala chickpeas; and achar pickles, both eggplant and gōya (bitter melon). The spicing is absolutely on point, albeit modulated to Japanese sensibilities.
Round off the meal with some homemade gelato (¥530 on its own; ¥480 as part of a set meal). Choose from two of the eight flavors: Masala chai? Spicy tiramisu? Chocolate with tongue-tingling Sichuan pepper? These are the kind of combinations that make Kalpasi well worth searching out.
Southwave Shimokitazawa 1D, Kitazawa 2-12-1, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031; bit.ly/kalpasi-shimokitazawa; open 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; closed Thu.; curry from ¥1,200; gelato ¥530; takeout available (curry from ¥1,000); nearest station Shimokitazawa; nonsmoking; cash only; Japanese menu; little English spoken