After Hours: Get your fill of curry at Chakraa
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — If you’re near Osan Air Base and in the mood for Indian cuisine, you can find the sound of Indian music and smell of aromatic spices about a minute from the main gate at the Chakraa Indian Restaurant.
Chakraa, in the Shinjang Shopping Mall in Songtan, seats about 40 and offers North Indian cuisine — rice dishes, curries, breads and desserts — in a tidy second-floor space with light-brown wooden chairs drawn up to tables under white tablecloths. Several wall hangings bear traditional Indian themes, and Indian music plays over the speaker system.
Although the restaurant — one of five locations in South Korea, with the other four around Seoul — serves sit-down meals, it also features a lunch and dinner buffet on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. for 15,400 won (about $16.38).
But on a recent Sunday night, we skipped the buffet and instead ordered two main dishes, lamb biryani and chicken curry. These were served with a plain Indian bread. The lamb biryani was served with “raitha,” a sauce made of yogurt, onions, chili powder, and chili.
The chicken curry seemed somewhat perfunctory, needing something else — a side dish of rice perhaps — to give it more presence.
But we were satisfied with it just the same. The meat was tender, and the curry held just the flavor we were expecting.
The lamb biryani we found especially flavorful. It consisted of chunks of lamb served in rice with aromatic spices. Here too the meat was tender.
Although we passed on dessert, what we saw on the menu left us thinking we might come back another time — making sure to save room for dessert.
Carrot halwa, maybe, an Indian dessert made of carrot, milk and sugar for 5,000 won (about $5.32). Or kulfi, an Indian ice cream garnished with pistachios and herbs for 6,000 won (about $6.38).
If we do go back, and it’s still cold weather, we’ll probably ask not to be seated near the windows. Although the windows were closed, we detected a moderate but continual draft that we suspect was coming through the window frames.
The service was friendly and polite, the food tasty, and the menu varied enough that we might well go back again soon.
See previous After Hours reviews here.
Chakraa Indian Restaurant
Pyeongtaek, South Korea
Prices: Food runs from about 5,000 won to about 15,000; alcoholic beverages 3,000 won to 12,000 ; nonalcoholic drinks 2,000 won to 5,000 won. Set menus range from 20,000 won to 75,000 won.
Specialties: North Indian, including a range of rice dishes, curries, Indian breads and desserts.
English menu: Yes
Clientele: Many customers from nearby Osan Air Base. Menu also specifies meals for couples and families of four.
Location: Located along the Shinjang Shopping Mall commercial strip, about a one-minute walk from the Osan Air Base main gate. From the main gate, cross the street into the Mall and walk straight, passing the Blue Opera on the left, Burger King on right, the Good Morning Sports Massage on right, to the World Plaza building on the left, opposite the BMW show room. You’ll see the Corner Sports Club sign on the ground floor. A staircase on the right side of the building takes you to Chakraa. Restaurant hours are: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Web site: www.chakraa.co.kr