[From October Issue 2012]
“Actually, I did not know what Twitter was,” confesses Pradahan VIKAS honestly. “And still, I do not understand how it really works.” Vikas, originally from Nepal, is a chef. He runs a restaurant located in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo. Because Vikas’ restaurant is famous on Twitter, customers visit from all over Japan, forming a queue in front of his restaurant.
“The reason why my restaurant is doing so well is all thanks to the kindness of the Japanese people,” says Vikas. When he opened the restaurant, there were hardly any customers. His tweets like, “I hand out fliers, but no customers come,” and “What will become of Vikas if this keeps up?” elicited sympathetic comments and were retweeted over and over again. As a result, his followers grew to almost 80,000 and huge numbers of customers began to show up.
Vikas came to Japan in 1995 and started working at an American restaurant. “When I was in Nepal, I heard that jobs in Japan were very easy; that all the hard labor was done by machines. But the reality was completely different. Yes, there was a dishwasher, but Japanese people pay close attention to detail, so even the smallest speck left on a dish is not tolerated. That’s why the dishes need to be rinsed off before putting them in the dishwasher. I was washing dishes from morning till night. It was really tough.”
After a few months of this he finally said that he wanted to quit. Then the head chef apologized for making him just wash dishes and began teaching him how to cook. “If I had not met the head chef, I probably would never have become a chef. He never got angry, but taught me by telling me, ‘it’s delicious;’ by encouraging my efforts,” Vikas reflects.
As a result of his hard work, Vikas became so good that soon people started to say, “We can’t trust anyone but Vikas when it comes to cooking meat.” One day, someone said, “You can make curry since you are Nepalese, right?” So he was suddenly called upon to make curry. The curry was popular with customers and became a regular item on the menu.
Before long the head chef left. Then Vikas soon became a victim of bullying. He could not take it anymore, so he too left the restaurant. “Thanks to that, I was able to work at a different restaurant and gain more experience. So, I think the bullying was all part of God’s plan for me,” says Vikas.
In 2010, Vikas opened his own restaurant. “Everyone has a small dream. When that dream comes true, people work hard to achieve their next dream.” Vikas’ Japanese friends who were concerned about Vikas tweeted his comments and created a logo and website for his restaurant. The restaurant got back on track, and he was able to open a second restaurant in Harajuku this May.
Vikas named his restaurant “Daisuki Nippon” (I Love Japan). The walls of the restaurant are decorated with messages from customers like, “Mr. Vikas has a wonderful personality,” and “His warm Tweets are very comforting.” Vikas, who loves Japanese, is loved in turn by many Japanese people.
Text: SAZAKI Ryo