Two years ago Ceci and I visited India. I presented a paper at the International Conference on Digital Libraries in Delhi and, afterwards, we spent two weeks traveling around the country. Exactly two years ago Thursday we saw the Taj Mahal, which is every bit as beautiful as one can imagine. It was a very special day for us so we decided to remember it by going to an Indian restaurant here in Buenos Aires. (Some photos of our India trip are on my flickr pages.)

We’ve been to the Katmandu restaurant before, so we checked the oleo restaurant guide for other Indian restaurants and decided to try La Reina Kunti at Humahuaca 3461, just a couple of blocks from the Abasto shopping mall.

La Reina Kunti is in an old building with no sign outside that it’s a restaurant. Stepping inside, the front room has a very nice decor and everything seemed promising. We arrived at 9:15 and almost every table was empty. Then we discovered that reservations are essential and they only had a few tables unreserved. So, we were led by the hostess to a small room in the back. The back room is not nearly as nice as those in front. Still, everything seemed okay.

When we looked at the menu we realized that La Reina Kunti isn’t really an Indian restaurant. Of course, Buenos Aires doesn’t really have much, if any, of an Indian community. The blonde hostess was the first sign that things were not as they appeared. More accurately, La Reina Kunti is a vegetarian restaurant with an Indian theme. So, don’t go expecting that it’s an Indian restaurant.

Anyway, we enjoyed a good sampling of different dishes and the prices are very affordable. The service was rather slow. We ordered an additional bowl of rice. Eventually, the waitress came by the table and said that the rice would be ready in five minutes. We asked if it would really only be five minutes and she said yes. Twenty minutes later the rice arrived. Well, it is the kind of place that you go and relax, and, despite the slow arrival of the rice, the overall service wasn’t bad.

The back room, located next to the toilet which flushes quite loudly, consists of four tables and is evidently where they put people who show up without reservations. One of the tables is a large, low table with a couch and some pillows thrown on the floor. It all looks very cozy. We were seated at an adjoining table when the hostess brought back another couple who sat on the couch. The hostess informed the couple that they would have to share the table if others arrived also without a reservation.

Then things started to get interesting as the dinner show started: the couple, in their late twenties, proceeded to spend the next hour making out on the couch while the rest of us at the three other tables tried not to notice. The room is really quite small and everyone seemed a little uncomfortable as the couple made quite a spectacle of themselves. Of course, public displays of affection are quite common in Buenos Aires, couples often make out in parks and on the street. But this was way beyond what I’ve ever seen in a park or on the street. It was more of the dark corner of a nightclub variety smooching, body groping, tongue lashing, loud lip smacking ecstasy. I expected them to break out a condom at any moment. Even a few minutes of that would have not been so unusual but to go on like that in a restaurant for more than hour was just bizarre.

Remember that they were told that they would have to share the table. The hostess brought back one couple and showed them the table. The man who had just arrived took one glance at the amorous duo and then looked back at the hostess with a look that seemed to say, “Are you kidding? It’s a joke, right? Am I on one of those hidden camera shows?” Needless to say, that couple didn’t stick around. Later, two women were shown back to table but quickly turned their heads and left when they saw the same sight. Perhaps La Reina Kunti should hire the couple to stage some type of Kama Sutra show to compete with the tango shows around Abasto. It was certainly a unique dining experience.

With so many restaurants in the city we will not be back to La Reina Kunti. Yet, if you’re looking for something different and not too expensive then it’s worth trying. When we left just past eleven the restaurant was packed and people were waiting for tables. It also might be a good place for a group of people, four to eight or so, for a special celebration without spending a lot of money. But, even if going only as couple, do make reservations and ask for a table in the front room which is the most stylish part of the restaurant. The middle room is not bad but avoid the back room. Even without the “entertainment” the back room isn’t much more than a hastily decorated storeroom quickly converted into a dining area.