Last week I was invited to Lucky India, a new Indian restaurant in Hapjeong, near Hongdae. I have always enjoyed Indian food and have been to many of the Seoul restaurants over the years, though some of them have been Pakistani and Nepalese. I realise these are completely different countries, but as much of the same food is served here in Korea I feel they fall under the same umbrella. Lucky India has a celebrity owner “Lucky” who has been living here in Korea for over 20 years, and has carved out quite a TV career himself in the many years he has lived here. As an Indian native he has always yearned for the food of his country, and not being able to find the dishes he craved he finally decided to open a place himself.
Unlike most of the Indian restaurants in the city, this is a very uber modern and cool space. It is not over festooned with Indian trinkets, and is somewhere where you want to hang out and be seen. There are many places like this in London and it was nice to see a place with a bit of edge to it. One of of its best featured is the fact they have a very well stocked bar, unlike many places I have visited which do not serve alcohol. There is a huge array of wine and spirits. I had a glass of the French Sauvignon which is priced at 9,000 a glass or a very reasonable 35,000 a bottle. Whilst my companion du jour had a Lucky Lassi (12,000) a rum based version of the traditional yogurt drink. Whilst it could have used a bit of artistic flair to make it prettier, it tasted delicious, kind of like a boozy Indian egg nog.
Lucky was keen for me to try as much of the food as possible, and not having been acquainted with me before had no idea of how much I am capable of eating so served us smaller sizes of everything. There are two types of tandoori chicken on the menu a Tikka and Malal Tikka both priced at 25,000 a portion. As you can see we were only given a bite sized potion of each and I am assured that the full sized potions are quite large and meant for sharing. The chicken is cooked on skewers in the tandoori oven and is juicy and flavourful. The tikka had a a deep robust flavour with a small punch of spice, while the malal version is creamy and mild. We also tried the Pakora (4 pieces for 6,000). You know I love anything deep fried so almost always order these crispy deep fried vegetable fritters. With the accompanying sauces it was an excellent to start to the meal.
After a small starter we moved on to the main event of the curries. We tried five in all, starting at bottom left moving clockwise: Chicken Palak (19,000), Chicken Tikka Masala (19,000), Dal (15,000), Prawn Vindaloo (21,000) and Lamb Korma (20,000). It really is hard to know where to begin. I think my surprise favourite of the day was the Dal. I’m usually no fan of lentils but this was so creamy and a welcome rest bite from the more intense curries. I also really liked the prawn vindaloo, just enough flavour without having your head blown off and plenty of plump juicy shrimp and chunks of potato. Lastly the Lamb Korma which was very spicy and not at all like the creamy chicken version we have back in the UK. Honestly they were all very tasty and unlike some places in Seoul, they were thick and filled with plenty of meat. I know that a lot of you complain that many curry houses serve bowls of watery sauces with a few sad chunks swimming inside, but that is not the case here. I will admit that the prices are a little steeper than your usual Seoul curry joint but only by a few dollars, which personally I don’t mind for a more trendier vibe. I should also mention that we had portions that are only two thirds of their usual size as we were tasting so many, so expect them to be larger when you order them.
With our curries we of course had a side or three of Naan (2,500) and the much more healthy Roti (2,500). We also couldn’t resist trying the Biryani (18,000). The Biryani came topped with naan bread which is used to hold in the flavour. It looked a lot like a good old English pie, which I enjoyed. Once the lid was removed we were greeted by the smell of aromatic spices. The rice underneath was also studded with chunks of meat and vegetables. They also serve a plain basmati rice for those who like their grains to be unmolested.
Overall we really enjoyed our lunch at Lucky India. Indian food is always something I enjoy, and while the prices are a touch on the more expensive side, I think the modernity and hipness of the restaurant – and the fact that they have fully stocked bar – more than makes up for it in my opinion. It is a excellent choice if you have a group of you and plan to head out in the Hongdae area after, and if you are into Korean celebrities, there are already quite a few who have already stopped by, and of course Lucky himself.
Lucky India is located at B1, 391-18 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. To get their take a train to Hapjeong Station (line 2 &6) and come out of exit 2. Turn back on yourself and turn right, then take the second road on your right. You will see Lucky India in a brand new building at the end of a drive way underneath the Vegan Bakery. For more information you can call them on 02-336-7782 or visit their website.