Indian food equates a Nan and Curry for majority of the Japanese. Majority of the North Indian states do have this as their primary diet, but the Southern part of India the dietary styles and tastes are very different. Nan used to be a novelty until the 90’s in many South Indian states. Japan has Indian curry restaurants which are mostly catering to North Indian styles and it has been the past 10 years or so that varieties of Indian food have started to appear with the IT engineers arriving in the city of Tokyo.
We introduced a Authentic Hyderabad Biryani place at Roppongi Hills, Diya, now we introduce Authentic Kerala style South Indian gourmet place right in the heart of the city at Kamiyacho Station. The name is Nirvanam and its been around for over 8 years.
Kerala, a state in southern India is a tropical paradise of waving palms and wide sandy beaches and coconut oil is the base of all the food prepared in that region. It lends a very different taste to the curries and am a big fan of Kerala style curries. Wish I get to travel sometime again soon to this beautiful state. A snap from my last trip to Kerala as below. No wonder coconut oil rules… right?
The restaurant is located on the second floor at the address 3-19-7 Toranomon and is a two minute walk from the Hibiya Line Kamiya Cho Station. Google Map
Now the difference in the food starts right at the soup level and we introduce you to the South Indian soup called Rasam, traditionally prepared using tamarind juice as a base, with the addition of tomato, chili pepper. At Nirvanam this is one of our recommended soups at 500 yen. Try it!
Next you can check the various curries available and our favorite with a Kerala flavor is the Kerala Chicken Curry. It is kind of medium spicy with the coconut oil base a taste far different from standard curry houses in Tokyo. You can order a similar thing for mutton also.
Although you can order a regular Nan at the restaurant, we would recommend Kerala Parotta, a layered flat bread of Kerala and some parts of Southern India, notably in Tamil Nadu made from refined flour and tastes very differently that a Nan. Personally I feel less stuffed with Parotta than a Nan, feels lighter and easy to digest too. Nan fills me up quickly and I do not prefer it.
If you want a milder curry we also suggest the Kerala Stew, Mixed vegetables cooked in coconut milk gravy. AUTHENTIC TASTE… For an Indian with regular spicy requirements this Stew can feel outright sweet, so this is more tailored for Japanese tastes. So if you take your customer or a Japanese friend, this may be a better choice.
The morning time has a buffet menu, all you can eat and is usually very crowded with a lot of office going salarymen in the restaurant typically between 12:00 and 14:00 p.m. The best time to go is the evenings. The lunch menu though is an economical way to try out most of the Kerala style food varieties.
Finish your lunch or dinner with a South Indian style coffee or milk tea (Chai) for the best experience. Served in stainless steel tumbler and glass like formation, take care since it gets very hot on the outside to hold by bare hands.
On the way back we stopped by the Atago Shrine in the neighborhood, thanked the gods for the food experience and with a relaxed smile back homewards…