Hotel Chirakkara has already become the talk among foodies in Japan. You might probably imagine that this must be some fancy Indian restaurant owned by an expatriate Keralite.
Well, you would be surprised to know that this quaint eatery is run by Japanese couple Hirayuki Okada and Yoko Thomito. Their tryst with the flavours and spices of Kerala began two years ago when the duo travelled to the state to learn about the famed Malabar cuisine. As soon as they returned to their homeland, Yoko and Hirayuki opened hotel Chirakkara where authentic Kerala food is served. This hotel grabbed attention after it was featured in popular Youtuber Yellow TK's vlog 'With Love From Japan.'
The hotel got its name Chirakkara from the duo's close friend Shamsudeen's hometown in Kerala. They fell in love with Kerala and its unique culture after meeting Shamsudeen, an expatriate Keralite settled in Japan. Yoko and Hirayuki flew down to Kerala to see their friend's homeland and master the art of Malabari cooking. It was Shamsudeen's mother who taught them the nuances of cooking Kerala dishes. Yoko and Hirayuki named their hotel Chirakkara as a tribute to the affection and great hospitality they experienced at this beautiful countryside in Kerala.
The duo worked for some time at a hotel run by Shamsudeen's elder brother, in Bengaluru, to acquire some real experience in cooking Kerala dishes. They also worked at a hotel in Palakkad. Shamsudeen has been living in Japan for the last 10 years. Yoko and Hirayuki often visit Kerala to hone their skills in cooking. When they came last time, the duo was completely in awe of the 'pulikali' (tiger dance) they saw in Thrissur. They plan to visit Palakkad in November to attend a friend's wedding. This time, they are determined to learn how to cook the special beef roast, at Thrissur.
Yoko even keeps a copy of the Malayala Manorama newspaper where the news about their hotel and passion for Malayali food had appeared.
The authenticity of the Kerala flavours can even be tasted in the tea that is served here. A glass of hot tea has the perfect ratio of milk, sugar and tea powder, making you wonder whether you are actually at a local wayside tea stall in a village in Kerala.
The thali meals are their most popular item. It is a delectable vegetarian spread of traditional Kerala dishes like sambar, olan, lady finger pachadi, mixed vegetable curry, rasam, cabbage thoran (stir fry), carrot thoran, spinach thoran, spicy Kerala style mango pickle and papad served with piping hot rice. For dessert you can enjoy their special rava laddoo as well. The most amazing thing is that all these dishes are freshly prepared by Yoko, Hirayuki and their Japanese staff at the hotel's kitchen.
The delicious biryani is accompanied by rich yoghurt raita and chicken curry. You can enjoy the biryani on a small banana leaf that is spread on the plate. This special biryani has the perfect mix of spices that doesn't overpower the real flavour of the dish. The 'botti' curry or the dish prepared using mutton intestine is a unique item served at hotel Chirakkara. Though it is a bit undercooked, it is loaded with all the authentic Kerala spices, especially the black pepper.
There are small counters here which remind one of a local wayside eatery in Kerala. Small packets of 'dahasamani' (fragrant roots that are added in boiled water), cardamom and mustard seeds are kept for sale here. Colourful posters of Tollywood superstars Rajnikant and Meena would definitely put a smile on your faces. Besides, pictures of Hindu gods also adorn the walls here.