The korean Curry Quest: Little India
Hongdae partiers will recognize Shalla Ganai, the owner of this new North Indian restaurant. He’s been making kebabs in front of Club FF there for years. Now he has a brick-and-mortar operation in Itaewon (don’t worry, he’s still selling kebabs in Hongdae).
Little India has a more modern feel than many of Seoul’s Indian restaurants. The décor is understated, with a silver, gray and maroon color scheme. White wicker chandeliers light the place, and Hindi music plays softly in the background.
The Little India servers started me and my two dining companions with complimentary lassis. The yogurt drinks tasted faintly of cardamom. We sipped them and decided on the set for three – a feast that cost 60,000 and ended up being more food than we could finish.
The set came with samosas, tandoori chicken, naan, rice, three different curries, and tea. The samosas came first. They were fairly standard, well made, stuffed with potatoes, peas and peanuts.
A plate of three fat chicken thighs came next. Fire-red, the tandoori chicken turned out to be the highlight of the meal. Oftentimes tandoori chicken is dry, tough, and tastes like it was left in the tandoor for a minute or 10 too long. This chicken was juicy and tender, and the bright red marinade had soaked deep into the meat. We ate politely with knife and fork for a while, but eventually abandoned those instruments and ate the thighs wing-style. Little India’s slogan is “finger-licking good,” and in this case that was true. We had the orange-stained fingers to prove it.
The curries were fairly standard – one mixed veg, one lamb rogan josh (a classic dish from Ganai’s home state of Kashmir), and one butter chicken. We got plenty of it, and plenty of naan to go with it. The naan – plain and garlic – was thin, chewy and delicious. There were several pieces left over after we finished off the curry, something which has never happened before as far as I know.
We finished the meal with milky chai tea. Ganai, the affable owner, circulated through the restaurant chatting with diners. Most of the diners seemed to be locals; kids from the neighborhood were hanging out with their mothers while couples ate biryani and drank tea. Little India is small and relaxed enough to be a regular choice for people who live near Itaewon. Most of the curries on the menu are around 10,000 won. The set for two, which comes with everything described above, is 38,000 won.
Getting there: Walk straight out of Itaewon Station, exit 3. Walk past the Kookmin Bank and turn right at the first big intersection. Walk up the hill, passing the Foreign Food Market. Veer left, and walk toward the mosque. Little India is about 50 meters before the mosque, on the left.
Itaewon Station, exit 3. Walk past Kookmin Bank & turn right at the junction. Walk past Foreign Food Market. Little India is about 50 m before the mosque, on the left.
Call ahead — (02) 793-5416