Hearty Meals from the Heart of Nepal!
Published: March 8, 2019
RHINO is back!
A few years ago, in my early days living in Koto City, I came across the Kotomise article introducing Indian & Asian Dining RHINO, and was immediately intrigued. I love spicy cuisine (not only the hot-spicy kind, but also full-of-spices-spicy kind), and the food looked so good, and the prices were so reasonable, that I was sure I’d have an amazing culinary experience (read: stuffing my face session) there.
Unfortunately, RHINO relocated out of the ward before I got the chance to make this a reality, and I was left sadly wondering about what could have been.
So you can imagine my delight when I found out the restaurant had come back to Koto!
The new iteration is located on Kasaibashi-dori Avenue in Monzen-nakacho, and has a lovely, prominent sign to help you find it J
“In the end, we just loved Koto City too much to stay away!” Rita Kandel, the hardworking, friendly restaurant mom told me. Originally from Nepal, Rita moved here a decade ago to be with her husband, and fell in love with her life in Japan.
While Rita manages the front side of the business, her husband Bhanu (right) works in the kitchen, dishing out the amazing eats.
He showed me his tandoori oven, where meat is slow-roasted with care and naan breads fluff up to a fragrant perfection. Yum!
RHINO’s menu is extensive, with pages dedicated to salads, soups, small eats, and of course, classic Indian and Nepalese dishes like tandoori and curry.
And, if you can beat the crowd and make it between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. for lunch, you can take advantage of their extremely affordable lunch sets!
The “ladies’ set” is hugely popular, since it comes with two curries of your choice, naan bread, a salad, chicken tikka, dessert, and a drink, all for 950 yen! If you want to make it heartier, consider trading the regular naan for cheese naan (+250 yen). Just be careful: this masterpiece of hot, savoury melted cheese mixed with a hint of honey and sandwiched between fluffy, perfectly-baked naan is extremely addictive, and diners should approach at their own risk.
By the time I’d finished the meal, I was absolutely stuffed! This was a lot of food! I can’t believe it cost me under 1000 yen!!
Both the curries I chose—curry of the day (chicken and broccoli) and the mutton curry—were delicious, with a distinct taste of their own. I was also mildly surprised to find them only minimally spicy, something Rita says they do so “kids can enjoy eating here, too.”
But fans of hot foods need not worry, because RHINO provides an original hot sauce at each table for those who want to keep things fiery. Not only was the hot sauce properly piquant (be careful when you first put it in!), it had a complex flavour profile that really took the already-delicious food to a new level.
If you’d prefer to pop in for dinner (between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.), one dish I’d recommend strongly is the special salad. The salad itself is amazing, of course, but what I couldn’t get enough of was the dressing!
“It’s not like any other dressing, because it’s an original recipe,” Rita told me. Like everything else, the dressing is comprised of a complex mix of spices. This is not your typical Ranch of Italian, and the inimitable sauce has incentivised some people to come to RHINO just for the salad!
I’d also recommend the fragrant tandoori chicken…
Or a plate of “momo”, a Nepalese household dish resembling dumplings. Great for sharing!
And of course, they have drinks aplenty, with a wide selection of liquors and even Nepalese beer, if you want to keep it authentic!
While I was eating, Rita told me more of her story, including the hardships she faced growing up in Nepal, her marriage to Bhanu, the early years making a life in Japan, and her plans for the future. Even though they’d had a rough beginning, Rita and Bhanu have maintained a stunningly positive attitude throughout their journey so far, and this positivity has brought many people to rally around them. You can tell they love being here, love their store, and love making their customers happy with heartfelt cooking galore!
So my initial feeling about RHINO turned out to be correct! And I couldn’t be happier that I was finally able to experience the great food and wonderful people behind it on their much-welcomed return to Koto City.
Story and Photos by Xianru Shen（Koto City Office Coordinator for International Relations）