We were joined by our wonderfully genial host and man with a genuine depth of knowledge of Indian cuisine, Mr. Anil Raj, and he masterfully guided us through our dinner choices. We started with a mixed vegetable dish, which by its description seems pretty run-of-the-mill, but was anything but. The Mixed Veg Dry is a fusion dish which is 20% Chinese inspired and 80% modern Indian inspired and which can be described as "pakora with a topping of Chinese flavor". This mixed vegetable curry, which only appears on the special menu, contains a fantastic selection of vegetables that are battered and deep fried, and are then are drenched in a sweet and spicy, viscous sauce prepared separately – the crunchiness remains from the moment it leaves the kitchen, right through every bite.
Next to hit the table was Masala Mutton Chili – another dry dish and a specialty that you won't find on the regular menu. Another one of the Indian takes on Chinese food, the sauce was reminiscent of Sweet and Sour Pork, with a crispy batter and succulent mutton inside. It was very hot to the touch, but Chris couldn't resist, so he just shoveled piece after piece in his mouth without so much as a moment's care for the potential burns to his fingers. I followed suit, muttering my usual line in these situations when food has my full attention: "I'll be back in a minute".
Anil explained that this was a home recipe passed through generations and that it took many attempts to perfect it, and at one stage even had his mother and grandmother on the phone to the chefs to explain the extremely precise process of getting the consistency of the crepe right so it was the perfect combination of light, coconut, sweet, and sticky. So with all of that in mind, we now had the feeling not only were we eating something you won't find anywhere else in Tokyo, we were as close to eating from the table of an authentic Indian household as we had ever been. A true honor indeed.
The sweet, rich, complex dish mixed with the lightness, delicateness, and the beauty of the bread had us both gushing with praise, with Chris at one stage even saying it was possibly the best thing he’d ever eaten. The flavour wasn’t the only thing: the sheer utility of the crepe was amazing – it kept its robustness right to the end, and we both rolled it up and wolfed it down with our eyes sparkling (may have even been a hint of a tear in Chris's). We both remarked at the end that this kind of dish should appear on Japanese TV at some stage, even for pure aesthetics alone.
Nirvanam Toranomon has a great selection of curries and other delights on their regular menu which will satisfy those with the most uninitiated palate right through to the more discerning foodie – the certificates of excellence lining the wall as you enter the place are there for a very good reason. As well as the recognizable favourites, they serve a tempting thali set which requires ordering 24hrs in advance so the kitchen can get all the necessary ingredients prepared. That will be our next port of call when we go again, but for now we would encourage anyone who visits there to go off menu and try one of the chef’s magical concoctions. It was an education for us and will be a revelation for anyone who has the pleasure of going there and trying it out. It might even persuade you to venture further than your local place and regular ordered dishes. If you are a fan of Indian cuisine, and you are ready to experiment, Nirvanam Toranomon would be a brilliant place to start.