Not a bad atmosphere for sipping a cool lassiAn India-themed cafe seems to fit Insa-dong, bustling as it is with traffic in ethnic souvenirs and curios.
From a comfortable couch in Little India (02-730-5528), at any time of the day, one can enjoy the view of the street while sipping a cool lassi (7,000 to 7,500 won; roughly $6), the yogurt-based Indian beverage. Or, for that matter, while enjoying an Indian meal.
Done up in orange terra cotta walls, handcrafted dolls and warmly glowing lamps, the cafe, which takes up two stories of a small building, plays lilting Indian pop melodies to soothe tired ears. The clientele when we visited consisted mostly of Koreans, plus a few ethnic Indians.
Full course meals aren’t offered here, but there are several kinds of mild to mid-range curry sauces served with saffron rice, fried rice, chicken pakora (Indian-style fried chicken) and vegetable samosa.
A young and friendly waitress recommended the popular chicken curry with rice; my colleague and I ordered samosa (8,000 won for three) and two curries, chicken (11,000 won) and shrimp (12,000 won).
The curry sauces were served in small, hot copper pots with a large plate of rice and a small bowl of yogurt. The saffron rice, disappointingly, was largely ordinary Korean white rice, specked with grains of saffron rice. Both curries were light, with plenty of vegetables. Chunks of chicken and shrimp were visible, and were chewy.
The samosa skins were too thick and brown from overcooking. They were stuffed with creamy potato, green peas and raisins.
The yogurt is homemade, according to the staff. The owner, she said, is a friend of the owner of a well-known Indian restaurant in town, so she gets real Indian ingredients, and cooks simple dishes herself in the small kitchen behind the counter.
by Ines Cho