Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi
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Indian restaurant (Nishi-kasai)
(Left) Kita guchi/Home Store
(Right) Minami guchi/Branch Store
There are many Indian restaurants in Tokyo. Indian cuisine is very popular here in Japan. We think curry and rice has been loved by many Japanese for almost 100 years… That’s the reason, we guess.
But the restaurant chain called “Spice Magic Calcutta” serves “real” Indian dishes because restaurants are in “Little India” of Tokyo. Nishi-kasai, a town where many people from India live. The restaurants are loved by those who miss their food culture.
Holiday Special Lunch at Home Store
＊Mainly North Indian cuisine
Holiday Special Lunch at Branch Store
＊Mainly South Indian cuisine
(Interview with Jagmohan Chandrani, Owner of restaurants)
When did you open this restaurant?
You must understand one thing. The primary purpose of that facility is not a restaurant. It is a “mess” – where people come to eat – It started in 2000 when the number of Indians, mainly they are IT engineers, increased.
A large number of the Indians who are in the IT industry are vegetarian people. So for them, eating out in Japan was very difficult. Becuase they do not take any food which includes meat, fish and egg. It was very important for them to eat Indian food. So we started that as a mess, kitchen and a place to eat.
That was not an open restaurant. It was only afterwards said people in the neighborhood saw Indian food being cooked and wanted to try it. So we opened it for one year, only lunchtime. In the night, only for Indian IT engineers.
Daytime, for everybody. Nighttime, only for Indians.
Yes. But later on, the people who came in the daytime wanted to eat there in the nighttime also. That’s when we shifted, increased our staff and made it a little more partitioned. So what you see today is a result of that.
So it started and even now it’s a place where IT engineers come to eat. Of course, we are very happy that our Japanese neighbors are also finding the place useful and they come and eat our food.
Because of our purpose, our food is not restaurant food. It is “home food”. The idea is that you can come and eat everyday. We have “lunch of the day”, everyday we change the menu. Also we have a special weekend menu. Every week it’s different. Food is very similar to home-cooked food. Of course, we have the tandoor, which is not used at home in India. Other than that, the whole idea is to have home-cooked food. So it’s something of a replacement facility for home meals.
Recently, two years ago, the number of South Indian people from India also increased to about 300. They wanted to eat their home-cooked food. That’s why we started another restaurant for South Indian one. Both restaurants serve food which is simple and suited for everyday eating. So we are very, very ordinary.
(Left) Menu of holiday special lunch, Home Store
(Right) Kitchen of Home Store
Japanese ingredients or Indian ingredients, Which do you use mostly at this restaurant?
Our effort is to use Indian ingredients. But sometimes that’s very difficult. We also have started a grocery shop above the restaurant. So we also try to provide Indian ingredients and we also use those in the restaurant.
However, we have to buy some things locally, such as rice and vegetables. It’s not possible to get those from outside. We get vegetables from a farmer’s group in Chiba. They have a farmer’s shop in Kasai (Next door to Nishi-kasai). They bring their products everyday and we buy them.
And as for rice, it is grown in Fukushima. So our rice to eat in the restaurant is grown for us.
This is not a commercial area, this is a residential area. It means that the same people are coming over and over again so we have to be careful. At the same time, they must find it useful.
So we have two aspects. One is that food is very homely. The second is that the price is not high. We have to be careful about these two things and we try to work them out.
What I ate is exactly the same as “home food”?
Most of it is in India. But for example, naan is not a home food in India. Naan is made at restaurants because a naan oven is very hot. It’s 400 degrees centigrade. You can not make it at home. But the rest of it is home one.
(Left) Indian TV program
(Right) Introduced on Japanese Newspaper
Spice Magic Calcutta
3-13-3 Nishi-kasai, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo
Phone/Fax (from overseas) +81-3-5667-3885
(from other areas in Japan) 03-5667-3885
2 Coastal Bldg, 6-24-5-201 Nishi-kasai, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo
Phone/Fax (from overseas) +81-3-3688-4817
(from other areas in Japan) 03-3688-4817
*Interview with Jagmohan Chandrani…Click here!