If you are in Tokyo and craving for some typical Kerala food, Nirvanam is where you head to. I am sure that you will instantly be transported back to the lush green Kerala. Statues of caparisoned elephants greet you at the entrance. Step inside and you see a statue of a Malayali woman welcoming you inside. There is a Kathakali figurine as you walk in; the walls are adorned with pictures of various art forms, backwaters, and elephants – trust me, every frame will make you nostalgic.
The ambiance is not just what will make you nostalgic. The smells that waft through the restaurant will remind you of Kerala. The breakfast spread consists of dosa and idli along with chutney and sambar. Puttu and Kadala curry are also served. The lunch spread includes sambar, erissery, pulissery, pappadam, rasam, kalan, payasam – almost everything you get back home in Kerala. Biriyanis and other Kerala dishes have many takers. And owner Anil Raj holds the credit for introducing cooked fish curries in the land of Sushi and Sashmini.
Anil Raj says that he buys rice and other provisions from Kerala for the authentic taste. And it was Nirvanam that introduced the concept of black tea in the area.
Now for a bit of history. Anil had gone to Japan for higher studies in 1988. He landed a job with Citibank in Tokyo and at the same time opened a small outlet for Kerala food. It was called Nirvanam. The Malayalis who went there relished the meals and gradually Anil had to upgrade his restaurant. He started a catering service as well. Branches were opened in Kamiyocho and Toranovon.
Anil says that he owes it all to his wife, Divya Raj, who is an expert chef. Their son Aryan Raj is a grade one student. Nirvanam has won the award from the Japanese government’s food department for the past four years. The restaurant also hosts celebrations of the Malayali Association in Japan. Sadya is free for everyone on Thiruvonam day.
Nirvanam's clientele include former Union Ministers A. K. Antony and S. M. Krishna, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. CPI leaders Mullakkara Ratnakaran and Binoy Viswam have dropped in too. The list goes on. Anil Raj, the entrepreneur that he is, has started a firm called Nirvanam Tours Services intended to help Malayali tourists to Japan and a kindergarten.