Being far away from homeland in a foreign nation definitely makes us yearn, when it comes to pleasing our longing taste-buds for our very own Indian taste of spices. And indeed, we had experienced it often times, especially during the festive seasons or on casual weekend days. When it comes to Indian cuisines, it is ‘Indian curry’ that has always remained very popular in Japan where even the Japanese have been fond of it. Today, Indian restaurants are found in every nook and corner in many of the busiest places of the cities that gives a splendid experience of a variety of Indian cuisines acquainted with Indian customs and traditions. Mostly, these restaurants are tagged with the word ‘Halal’ as it comes under the Halal chain of food business. These restaurants are decorated with a typical Indian ambiance where one can sense the fragrance of the spices to get a feel of its aura and essence. Mostly run by the Nepalese as Chefs, some of these restaurants are also run by the Indian chefs, based from the Northern region, who have settled here since last 14/15 years and presently own big restaurant businesses.
Photo by AHM taken at an Indian restaurant in Kyoto
So, what these Indian restaurants in Japan generally offer? Right next to Indian Curry, one can experience the flavor of delicious Nans (Indian bread) with variety of curry platters, that are accordingly served as per ordered spice limits, with sizeable amount of side dishes ranging from Seekh Kabab, Roasted paneer, Tandoori, Samosas, Indian styled Chicken Momos complemented by tea or coffee or various other beverages. Today, these Indian restaurants are located in almost every big populous cities of Japan from Tokyo to Osaka to Nagoya to Kyoto and many more.
To give a glimpse of the presence of Indian restaurants in this island nation, let me specifically write about some of the unique restaurants that have been the most popular and often sought by the Indians here, who have either newly arrived or have been here for long. And strikingly, this is not only one of the preferred places, of the Indian community here, but also has been one of the favorites among the Japanese who loves to experiment Indian cuisines and its spices. Located in the heart of the Nagoya city, with its mesmerizing dishes blended with the typical South Indian flavors and cuisines, this restaurant is known by the name 'Erick South'.
Photo: AHM taken at Erick South Restaurant at Nagoya
So, this is a typical restaurant that offers a wide range of South Indian delicacies from vegetarian to non-vegetarian sets along with their occasional specialties of side dishes. When I had first time visited this place, I was stunned to know that the Chef who make these delicious Indian meals is none other than a Japanese himself. In fact, the entire restaurant is run by the Japanese with waiter and waitresses. And the story what I got to hear was that the Japanese Chef of this restaurant, had himself gone all way down to India (probably, Andhra Pradesh), had learned the culinary skills, came back and started his business serving awesome South Indian delicacies to all.
Photo: AHM taken at Erick South Restaurant at Nagoya
Yes, it is just pleasant to the ears knowing about the passion of the Chef cooking Indian recipes with such aptness. In Japan, it is true; it is really difficult to survive if you are a vegetarian by nature. For food like tofu, salads, home cooked vegetables and some ramen dishes are only your respite if you seek for vegetarian food. But now, if you are a vegetarian and you really crave for your home country food, just visit Erick South and relish a finger licking meal enjoying a beautiful Indian ambiance in Japan. This restaurant is just a walk away from the Nagoya Station and often times, to my utter dismay, it is a handful of Japanese crowds that are usually seen munching the South Indian cuisines. Mostly, out of all the dishes, they seem to enjoy Chicken Biryani, a three-platter curry (both available in vegetarian and non-vegetarian), Dosa sets, Rava platters, lunch and dinner meals served with Chappati, Roti and with Papadum (widely known as Papad) with both Indian basmati rice and Japanese turmeric rice and out of the side dishes, there is raita, pickle, gulab-jamun, grilled platters and so on. Recently, I visited the place where they have also added Pani Puri and Dahi Vada in the menu. Cuisines like Dosa sets are little expensive but rest of the dishes are worth the price.
Truly, no matter wherever you are, your home-country food matters that make you feel so connected to your roots and give you a home feeling. From what I have observed, apart from the taste of Nans served with different curries (mostly non-veg) some Japanese people rather like to savour South Indian delicacies. Indian food is much appreciated by Japanese who loves to taste Indian cuisines and experiment with its spices. Likewise, I feel our North-East Indian cuisines which are way unique and scrumptious, if could be promoted in a dynamic way in countries like Japan, people could get a glimpse of a larger picture of India enwrapped with such amazing diversity.
[ Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of the Publisher. ]