Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on April 2008
Ritsuko Takeda first fell in love with the majestic mountains of Nepal as a 21-year-old student. She was so taken with the country that she established a restaurant in Tokyo paying homage to the warm hospitality and tasty food she encountered on her many subsequent visits. For the past decade, she and her small staff of Nepalese chefs have been serving faithful (and absolutely delicious) delicacies straight from the Himalayas.
Madal, named after a traditional Nepalese drum, occupies the top floor of a dingy office building, steps from Meguro station. Patrons remove their shoes at the doorway and proceed into the semi-partitioned dining area. All seating is on bright floor cushions, and tapestries adorning the wall help create the festive atmosphere that regulars have come to expect.
Takeda, now 44, perfectly plays the part of the ever-cheerful hostess, taking orders and delivering them with surprising haste. After leading customers to their table, she provides a hot hand towel and a menu divided into three food sections: veggie, meat/fish and tandoori.
On our most recent dinner visit we passed over the latter two—with entries like chowela spicy pork (¥735) and tandoori-baked prawns (¥1,260)—and concentrated on the former. Our order for three consisted of aloo gobi (¥735), a dry curry with tomato, cauliflower and potatoes; creamy spinach and potato curry (¥787), with big, pillowy naan (¥315); our perennial favorites, deep-fried samosas (¥577 for two); and the best dish of the night, melted homemade cheese over fried cauliflower, green beans and tomatoes, called chasumasu (¥735).
Given the rare opportunity to sample a bottle of Sungold Nepal Ice (¥735), we were rewarded with a pleasant lager from a country not known for its beer. One was enough. Our following round included a tipple off the seasonal menu, a sakura champagne (¥630), as well as an inventive lime-infused variation on the standard draft Yebisu (¥577).
With drinks and an array of large-portioned food dishes spread before us, we struggled to finish the meal, and actually had to ask for a doggy bag for the too-tasty-to-waste kabuli naan (¥525), a round bread pocket stuffed with raisins and cashew nuts.
Even on a follow-up visit at lunch, this card-carrying member of the Clean Your Plate Club was forced to leave a bit uneaten. The set meals (¥885) include two curries, yogurt, a side salad, Nepalese chutney and milk tea. You can even add extra curry (¥105), naan (¥210) or rice (no charge).
Madal is a fantastic place for those in Meguro stop by for lunch, but we prefer to visit in the evening, when we can have a few drinks, take in some seriously funky Himalayan folk music and enjoy a leisurely meal in the earthen interior.