That Curry Place Across the Street

When an officemate resigns, office tradition dictates that we eat out with him or her in that “curry place” across the street. It’s a popular Indian restaurant with the people at work. Legend has it that before my time, the people in the office would have lunch there every month.

Nowadays, everybody is just too busy to make it a regular thing so they only go there on special occasions. In my experience, that meant: whenever somebody decides to leave the company. And since an officemate recently resigned, we ended up eating at the curry place.

For those interested (and just so I can avoid writing down “curry place” again and again for the length of this essay), the name of the “curry place” is the Nirankar Indian Resturaunt which can be found at 7 Queen Street near the Flinders Street corner in Melbourne’s CBD. It’s quite spacious inside so it’s suitable for group lunch-outs. I must admit, too, that I found the food rather nice, even though I’m not really a big fan of Indian food.

Now, I probably wouldn’t have gone to today’s lunch-out at Nirankar if the officemate wasn’t a relatively close colleague of mine. I mean, the guy helped me out with my work in my first few weeks in the company.

From those of you from the Philippines, let me just clarify that the person leaving wasn’t expected to treat us out. Whenever there are these lunch-outs here in Australia, everybody is expected to pay for their own food or to pay for an equal share of the total spent for everybody’s food.

In this case, we had to pay an equal share of everybody’s food which came down to $30 each. To me, $30 for lunch is a bit expensive. To give you a point of reference, here are some sample lunch combos with its approximate cost: McDonald’s value meal – $6, large plate of Teriyaki Chicken with fried rice and drink – $9, Chicken Schnitzel Focaccia plus drink – $8, Fajita Burrito with chips (French Fries to the rest of you) and drink – $11, restaurant level dish plus rice and drink – $19. So, the thirty dollars would’ve been enough money to treat Raquel out for dinner in a decent restaurant — maybe even at Nirankar itself.

What happens usually at a Nirankar lunch-out, they would order multiple dishes which would be shared with everybody. My problem here is that I have basically stopped eating mammal-based meat since half-a-year ago. That meant I would only be able to eat the dishes where there is only chicken or vegetables. I considered just ordering my own dish but I was afraid to look like I was walang pakisama (could be translated to “lack of camaraderie-ness”). A bit of a no-no in Filipino culture. I don’t know how it is with Australians and I didn’t want to risk it.

So I ended up just eating the butter chicken dish mostly. I had to pass up the beef korma, beef vindaloo and the lamb do-piaza. Each dish ordered was divided and placed in small bowls so that everybody on the long table could have a taste of one particular dish. That meant I was only able to eat a little bit of the butter chicken. Fortunately, it was delicious. Unfortunately, I was only able to eat a small portion of it. Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat a lot of meat for lunch, I compensated by eating a lot of the rice and the garlic naan bread.

A lot of the guys ordered some alcoholic beverage but since I don’t drink alcohol, I had to settle for a narrow glass of Diet Coke (which was less expensive though it didn’t matter because we had to divide the cost in the end anyway).

I have to admit that I wasn’t too satisfied with today’s lunch. Not because the food was bad. It was mostly because I felt I paid a lot and didn’t get a lot in return. It must just be the scrooge in me.

Anyway, I got something out of it. At least, I was able to sample the different sauces they had on offer (I just avoided eating the meat) and came to the conclusion that I like the butter sauce the best followed by the korma sauce. I also discovered that I like the naan bread which was something I wouldn’t have bought if it was just me.

Next time we go out for lunch at Nirankar, I’ll just have to be thick skinned and order a separate butter chicken with rice and naan for myself. It would be delicious and it would hopefully work out cheaper.

Published in: on February 9, 2006 at 1:30 pm  Comments (6)