Land is a small Meguro restaurant with a big ambition – to reinvent the Japanese curry. Mr Naito, the bearded, bespectacled chef-owner whose bicycle hangs from the wall by the entrance, says he wants to make Japanese curry as distinctive and highly regarded as its Indian or Thai equivalents. Judging by the food Time Out sampled, he’s well on the way to achieving his goal after just a year and half in business. Japanese curry sometimes eschews aesthetic arrangements and culinary sophistication for the unrefined guilty pleasures of a heaped rice, a few lumps of meat and a one-dimensional brown sauce. But Land’s new-wave curries (¥1,500-¥1,900) are something else entirely.
Naito’s complex, aromatic sauce, made with chicken stock, onion, garlic and a 15-spice mix, performs gymnastics on the tongue. The rice is topped with artistic panache – the vegetable and fruit curry includes flame-grilled courgette, sweet potato, fennel and edible rose petals, as well as a side of mashed potato. Other winning touches: a rare consideration for veganism (sundried tomato and navy bean soup), excellent Kona beer sold by the bottle, several healthy salad options, and an innovative range of chais and cocktails. One word of warning. Don’t go before a hot date. Unless the person you’re meeting finds the smell of onions and garlic attractive, that is.