Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Frequent Flyer Miles & Indian Food @ Raja

When my friend L called to say she had some news—involving a pilot from down under, a layover in Osaka, and many a martini—I immediately gathered our group of gaijin girlfriends for dinner so we could hear the details all together. Since I knew L’s tale would be spicy, I suggested Indian.

Five of us met at my favorite Indian restaurant in all of Osaka: Raja in Temmabashi, which also has a new branch just opened in Yao. The Temmebashi location is neither fancy nor large, holding only about 10-12 tables (depending on how they organize the seating), but the food is out-of-this-world good.

We toasted with a surprisingly good Indian red wine (who knew?), smoky and smooth and only ¥2500 a bottle. (L, still a little hung over from her adventures in pilot-land, stuck to the non-alcoholic Mango Lassi, a slightly sweetened mango and yogurt shake.) We covered all the essentials: when the next flight was scheduled to arrive with him on it—or, more precisely, with him flying it, (in late June); whether there’d be any free frequent flyer miles coming our way as fringe-benefits for L’s friends (never); and then of course, my top priority—what we were going to order (a lot).

So as we gossiped and giggled and gained new appreciation for the airline industry, we ate Chicken Tikka (a sizzling dish of spicy, boneless chicken chunks on top of pan-seared onions and peppers) and then Malai Tikka (also boneless white-meat chicken chunks, but marinated in a sauce of garlic, nuts, yogurt, and butter). Next, we dipped into a potato and cauliflower Alu Gobi curry; a creamy spinach-based Palak Paneer with cubes of fresh white cheese mixed in; two orders of minced chicken Keema Curry (one with eggplant and one with sautéed lotus root); and a rich, lentil-based Dal Paneer, featuring beans stewed with tomato and onion and spices. On the side, we ordered a slew of Indian carbs: cheese nan, garlic nan, onion nan, and—as if the universe were paying homage to L’s aviation adventure—the appropriately misspelled “plane” nan.

We ended with hot, spicy chai tea for half of us and Kingerfisher beers for the rest. Then L went home to sleep off the rest of her hangover, while our other unmarried friend, S, went to check for new deals on Orbitz’s travel site. H, J, and I—all lawfully wedded to Japanese men—gave a collective, nostalgic sigh for the high-flying days of our long-lost singlehood. But then we each happily headed home ourselves, eager, in the end, to see our lovely husbands, who, although possessing nary a pilot’s license among them, have still been able to lay new worlds at the feet of their lucky Western wives.


Temmebashi location:
Indian Restaurant Raja
Osaka shi, Chuo-ku
Otedori, 1-4-1 Osakaya
New Ote Bldg. 1

Yao location:
Indian Restaurant Raja
Osaka fu, Yao shi
Yamamoto Chuo, Minami
Cosmo Paradise Bldg.. 1F

Menu in English & Japanese; staff speaks some English