COLOMBO: The Vethodys, a family of Malayali entrepreneurs with roots in Kerala and Sri Lanka, have brought back to life a slice of Colombo’s colonial past with the re-launch of their extensively renovated 135-year-old iconic Hotel Nippon situated in the heart of the capital’s business district.
“Nippon” as it is popularly known, occupies Manning Mansions in Slave Island, a place which the 16th Century Portuguese rulers of Colombo had used to house slaves brought from Africa. Being one of the oldest buildings in Colombo, Manning Mansions were designated as one of its “heritage” buildings by the Sri Lankan Department of Archeology with strict rules for their upkeep.
Hotel Nippon found its place in cinematic history when it was featured in David Lean’s Academy Award-winning film Bridge On The River Kwai shot in Ceylon in the mid-1950s. According to Dr.Valsan Vethody, a Director of the hotel, some of the indoor shots of the Japanese army headquarters were shot in Nippon, and its then joint proprietor, Greg Roskowski, a Polish émigré, had acted in the film as one of the British Prisoners of War.
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What - Nippon Rolls
Where - 123, Kumaran Ratnam Rd, Colombo 2
When - Open everyday
Today on WTF, I went to check out the place which my mom had praised. When I was a kid, I remember going to Infant Jesus Church and stopping by to enjoy the hot hot rolls.
The building which dates back over 130 years, Hotel Nippon, has been around for a while. In fact, I believe it was one of the first 5 hotels in Sri Lanka amongst the likes of The Grand Oriental Hotel, The Galle Face Hotel and The Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
Even though a lot has changed since its inception, and even though the initial theme and food styles may have altered over time, there's one thing that has remained rock solid and unchanged - the recipe of the Nippon Rolls. Every time you bite into it, you go back to your childhood. When my mom got married and went off to Jaffna one of the things she missed a lot was this, mummy always said.
I got a chance to chat with the Managing Director - Vishnu V. Vethody, who is super passionate about taking this brand to the other level. Speaking to him about the brand, I was told,
"There's one thing that has remained rock solid and unchanged - the recipe of our Nippon Rolls. Especially the Nippon Mutton Rolls. It has been overwhelming to hear the stories that have been related to me over the last couple of months.
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