The Hindu Goddess Lakshmi (aka Laxmi) has long since been one of my favorite deities. The embodiment of beauty and prosperity, she is said to bring good luck and protect her devotees from misery and sorrow. You can imagine my surprise when I sat down to dinner at Laxmi Curry House and found myself suddenly thrust into a misery of gastronomical bad luck and culinary sorrow.
Now if you are a follower of my little page here, you know I rarely like to wallow in the negative and haven’t yet written a bad review, but this place was SO BAD that I had to share the laughable experience with you! Like many situations in my life, when I wait a long time to do something, it ends up not living up to the expectations I created in my head, whereas when I just jump out spontaneously, it normally involves some great adventures! Sadly, my record was not broken by this slop of an “Indian” joint.
I, as you may know, love my Indian cuisine. I have since I was a little girl. I grew up with primarily north-western and Punjabi dishes through many family friends. Of course I lived for years in London, a place that takes it curry VERY seriously. I can say I make a fairly mean keema, a decent lamb korma and my tikka masala is reaching expert level…for a gori, I mean. I am starting, with the help of my friend Reepu, to study different regional recipes and branch out in my skills. I look forward to my trip to India where I can really get deep and PARTICIPATE in the succulent food culture that I love! But I digress…as usual….
So my husband and I have passed Laxmi Curry House countless times over the almost 3 years we have lived in the Okinawan village of Kitanakagusuku, and always said “We’ve got to go there someday!” Upon finding Bollywood Dreams (of which I wrote about in “I Dream of Bollywood, or ‘Oh Wow, Curry'” https://gratuitousgrub.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/i-dream-of-bollywood-or-oh-wow-curry/) we hadn’t really branched out to very many other Indian restaurants on the island. But as our little neighborhood has started becoming a tiny mecca of new cafes, izakayas and restaurants, and as we have been walking out quite often nowadays, we thought we better finally try out our local Indian.
Laxmi, from the outside and interior, seems adorably quaint and cozy. There are wooden booths with beads and curtains allowing some privacy and a little bit of chintzy “exoticism.” Of course the obligatory statues of gods and goddesses, elephants etc. I thought, “Hey, this seems like a curry house in Hounslow. I can dig this!” The place boasted “authentic” Punjab curry, pontificating profusely that it was not made with flour or water, but with onion and tomatoes (well duh) and the menu went on and on to talk about their curry curing and preventing sickness. I was excited to order the “White Curry with Spinach” which, according to a review on Okinawa Hai, was a ‘specialty of the chef,’ and Jason procured the “Keema with Mushrooms and Cheese.” The meal set came with salad, drinks and dessert, which seemed a good bargain for the price of around 1,200 yen each, but when my chai arrived 20 minutes later and the saccharin, cloying, yet terrible weakness of it trickled down my throat for the first time, I knew we were in for a trying night.
The service, although quite friendly, was slow, and when our food finally arrived I couldn’t believe the state of it! As Gordon Ramsay would say “it looked like a cat got sick on my plate!”
It was sloppy, tasteless, greasy and essentially overworked with too many ingredients and yet somehow bland. All of it. The naan was chewy and banal, the cheese, which I assumed would be paneer, was actually just the usual plastic type processed stuff you find in a Japanese supermarket, the salad was gritty and the rice was flavorless and overcooked. But the biggest surprise, the biggest slap in the face to the goddess Laxmi herself was that my “White Curry” actually contained BEEF! There really isn’t much I can say except that I was speechless. Now I, myself, love beef, but there was something so sacrilegious, so uncomfortable about eating beef in an Indian restaurant that I just felt DIRTY! Like I brought bacon sausage rolls to a bris afterparty or something. Do they have after parties for a bris? Hmmmm….
Anyway….I informed my friend Reepu about the beef situation and I was, in fact, right to feel awkward. Incensed actually. She rattled on about how it was a DISGRACE to the goddess’s name. I thought I had much more to be incensed about. I’ve never had curry so bad! I wouldn’t wallpaper my house with that glop!
As for Jason, he just kept laughing. It was a ridiculous meal to be presented with. Like something made by a drunk Englishman who hasn’t been well acquainted with a stove, comes home from closing down the local and had a crazy, booze induced idea to make a curry! I can just picture him, stumbling about, grabbing yoghurt and some curry powder and some old chicken biryani leftovers, an egg, some tomato paste and some cat food from a tin. Yeah…when seen in that light it’s pretty damn funny. And to top it all off, for desert we got the pleasure of some scrumptious, prepackaged, frozen cheesecake and chocolate “gateau.” Yay for us!
Naturally we felt ill for the next 8 or so hours, spent some quality time in the toilet and cursed the place, followed by days of Jason, whilst driving us to lunch or dinner, quipping “Well we can always just go to Laxmi!” Cheeky bastard. I suppose we can call this just one big joke. I mean it is essentially just a silly, cheesy, awful restaurant that I think has the best of intentions but no talent. However, the thing that still REALLY gets me about this whole hackneyed attempted at Asian epicur-iosity is the fact that I read several reviews online that actually touted this as GOOD FOOD! Okinawa Hai, albeit a volunteer website, has absolutely no taste sometimes when it comes to restaurant culture and good damn food. So many times I have been steered into what sounds like a great place to chow down and in the end I walk away cursing the reviewer. Of course, anyone reading my review might go to Laxmi and really enjoy themselves, love the food and have a wonderful time. Please, go ahead. But if you do, change your readership to Okinawa Hai instead. They might be more your speed. Oh, and stock your toilet with magazines and prepare yourself for your Laxm-ative!