Yeah, I said Indian Food! It’s not something a visiting tourist would expect to dine on in a place like Nagano. Here, most establishments serving other than Japanese cuisine tend to be crafted toward the Japanese palate — Japanese people tend to prefer food that is served on the bland side, with perhaps a hint of strong flavor here and there.
That is why we find the Indian Restaurant, Royal Hind, such a breath of fresh air. This establishment originally started out in southern Nagano City, where I — along with my family and several students of mine — were regular patrons. But the restaurant eventually moved to Matsumoto and has since expanded to three locations, two in Matsumoto and one in Karuizawa. We finally got a chance to go to one of these restaurants this week. And as expected, we loved it!
The owner of this eatery, our friend Mr. Omvir Singh, serves up enormous naan (a kind of baked, flat bread) with curries of differing varieties. And if you are worried about the curry being too spicy or not, no problem. There is a simple number system (level 1, mild, to level 5, very-very-hot) so you can eat at a level of spiciness you prefer. My wife always chooses level 2 — For a Japanese, she is pretty daring with spicy food! But I go all the way — level 5!
The decor is very basic, but the food is the reason why we go. You can order à la carte, with well-portioned items amusingly served on smaller dishes or bowls. Or you can order from the set meals that are available, served on a large tray with several compartments for the curries, chicken, salad, rice, naan and other items in the set. We often order their wonderful vegetable samosas and a tall glass of mango lassi — a sweet, yogurt-based drink that is great for washing away the hot spice of the curry. Our favorite curry, without a doubt, is the vegetable curry. It has good-sized chunks of vegetable well mixed in and it tastes wonderful! And for a real treat, order the cheese naan! It is awesome!
Lunch sets range in price from ¥850 to ¥1280, with additional helpings of naan at only ¥100. Dinner à la cart items are ¥300 to ¥900. Dinner sets are ¥1500 to ¥3000.
Royal Hind has two locations in Matsumoto — The Belmore restaurant, on the second floor of the Inoue department store, about a five-minute walk from Matsumoto Station — and the Nakamachi restaurant near Parco department store, on Nakamachi Street, just off Honmachi Street, between the Chuo 2 and Sensaibashi traffic signals. A third restaurant just recently opened in Karuizawa on route 18, a short distance from the North Exit of Karuizawa Station.
You ought to go! It’s the best Indian food I have ever had in this country. No kidding!Royal Hind Address & Contact Information: Belmore restaurant: Fukashi 1-3-11 Belmore 25, Matsumoto, Tel/Fax: 0263-36-1671; Nakamachi restaurant, Chuo 2-4-18, Matsumoto, Tel/Fax: 0263-32-5731; Karuizawa restaurant, Kitasaku-gun, Karuizawa-machi, Higashi 6-16, 2F, Tel/Fax: 0267-41-4971