Jhoti The Door to India restaurant in Sapporo is actually the first Indian food I had in Sapporo. My first visit was maybe four years ago, and it was to their previous location (I asked the owner, and he said they moved to this current location in 2021). As we are working on our list of the best Indian restaurants in Sapporo, we have been back a few times to take another look.
Jhoti Indian restaurant in Sapporo is on the 7th floor of a high rise building, on the south side of the Tanukikouji plaza (the side that is closest to Susukino).
The previous location was a little dark, as I remember it. The new space has an open floor plan, it’s brighter, six or so tables, a counter along the southern window, and a bar with five seats.
The menu comes as two, double-sided laminated sheets. As you peruse the menu, you might notice a section of “snacks” (basically appetizers), some salads. some meat done in the tandoori oven, a wide selection of naan (which they spell nan), some options for rice, a category labelled Indian rice (which includes their biryani, which I have seen, and it looks fantastic), and a section for raita. The other side of menu has the curries; many flavors; applied to chicken, vegetables, mutton, and seafood.
There are also some sets.
The set menu is four “combos.” A Pune set. A vegetable set. A non vegetable set. And a Jhoti Special set – which is more expensive and looks to come with more options and various tastes to sample.
One time we tried to order a set at dinner, but they said they were all sold out for the day. What could that mean, we asked? Apparently, they have a fixed number of sets. Some of the items in the set take a long time to make. So they only do so many sets per day. I still don’t understand that entirely, but… we don’t make the news, we just report it.
When I first looked at the menu I was busy scanning the many choices for my favorite curry. And, I found it…
In a former life (in a previous city) it was not uncommon for me to eat Indian food three or four times a week. Here in Sapporo (the best city in the entire world), I suppose I am upholding the same tradition. It has only been a few days since I was at Sapporo’s Taj Mahal (in Sapporo factory). And if you read that review, you’ll see I have a love for the Indian curry called Jalfrezi.
In part to do a head-to-head test (and in part to show what a predicable animal I am), I ordered the exact same things I ordered on my recent visit to Taj Mahal. Everything the same, down to the Kingfisher Indian beer in the bottle (I wouldn’t let them pour it into the glass – I am uncultured beast, I drink my beer out of bottle). I’ll compare the two two experiences a little below.
As we get into the food, first up is the samosa.
Jhoti’s samosa was fine. Heavy, singularly driven by the soft, warm, potato taste. It was good, but not a “winner.” (I like the samosa at Taj Mahal’s much better, it was amazing, so if that was what I wanted – I would go there).
Trying to show you a little more of the menu at Jhoti, we can report we have also tried the Gobi Manchurian from the “snacks” menu; a creation made with cauliflower, that comes in a spicy, red sauce. That name sounded Chinese to me, and it is. Manchuria is (apparently) in the northeastern part of China. And “Manchurian” when it comes to food is an Indian interpretation of some Chinese flavors. In this case, that aforementioned cauliflower, deep fried, but then simmered in that red sauce, so it comes out soft. It was interesting and delicious.
With (some of) the appetizers spoken for, let’s move on to the rice, the curries, and of course – the naan.
On my first visit at this location, I had the chicken jalfrezi – it was very good. The portion was smaller than Taj Mahal, but the flavor was less sweet, more distinct and spicy. I liked it better.
On a follow-up visit, I had the chicken tikka masala. In America, tikka masala is the “default” Indian curry. I would not typically choose it, but I asked for a おすすめ (recommendation), and I accepted the suggestion. The tikka masala at Jhoti was rich, and wonderful. I would say it was “spicy,” but they let you choose your degree of “fire” (and I chose “medium”), and in this case, I am referring more to the flavor than the heat.
The previous location (and my visit, many years ago) had given me a somewhat bad impression. I wasn’t excited to revisit Jhoti, but these last few meals have improved my thoughts about Jhoti Indian food in Sapporo quite a bit. It is a good experience. As we prepare to write our list of the best Indian restaurants in Sapporo, Jhoti is suddenly a contender.
But wait. What about the naan? Good question.
I love bread (in general), and naan is a truly fantastic form of bread, and part of the joy of good Indian food. The naan at Jhoti Door to India in Sapporo is very good. A little lighter, less doughy, more crispy than most naan I have had in this city. (If you start to eat it quickly, you’ll get more of that crispiness.) There was a thin coat of butter brushed over the naan as it arrived. On the second time, I had a sense of the flavor of popcorn as I ate it (which I have had before, with other excellent naan experiences). It was perfect.
I’d say Jhoti has the best naan in Sapporo.
I could point out that Jhoti seems to have a lot of foreigners. Over the course of few visits I have heard English, English with a European accent, Chinese, and more. Several はくじん (white people) each time, which is very unusual for Sapporo. As Jhoti is on the 7th floor, it’s not that easy to notice, but Jhoti has done a good job marketing itself, and you can see it by the types of people at the tables.
If the presence of Hindustani people are a good sign (and I would say it is), I’ve seen Indian people here on all my recent visits.
To help convey the full experience, I often talk about any sounds or music the restaurants in Sapporo might include in their presentation. The Indian restaurant Jhoti in Sapporo has really excellent Indian music. Perhaps it was because I was sitting below the speaker, but there was a beautiful, chanting kind of music playing, that, after finishing my dinner, help put me into a soft trance. It was warm feeling, comfortable, satisfied. More points for Jhoti.
It seems Jhoti is part of range of a vibe than goes beyond just the food. A friend of our was telling us that Jhoti offers a kind of Indian astrology or fortune telling, as well. As part of the decoration, there are a lot of references to what I would classify as Buddhist ideas (awareness, karma, yoga, all that). We like the food at Jhoti. It’s good. And we’ll reserve judgment on the rest of their offering, it’s outside of our experience.
With a location just between Odori and Susukino station, Sapporo’s Indian restaurant Jhoti is in a very busy neighborhood, and may go along with some other plans you might have for a night out (Jhoti is not open for lunch). Other non-Indian restaurants in the neighborhood include The Craft for beer and pizza. Also nearby is Craft Beer Volta (which we like a lot), and the Hawaiian steak and oyster restaurant Salt Moderate (which is one of our favorites). A little further to the west, is an excellent place for a hamburger called Hamburger Shop Tack.
For other Indian in Sapporo, we have already mentioned Taj Mahal at Sapporo Factory. Directly north in Kita-ku is Mohan Dish. If you head up to Odori station, and then west to Ju-ichi Station, you might find 本場インドカリー アマン – which translates to “Authentic Indian Curry Aman.” And if you take the Tozai line to Maruyama (and then make the 10 minute walk), you’ll find our favorite Indian in Sapporo, which is Sapporo’s Jhad Pul.