This article explores the impact of COVID-19 on Nepali immigrants working as cooks in Nepali-owned Indian curry restaurants, one of the largest ethnic entrepreneurships in Japan. The COVID pandemic disproportionally affected the socio-economic situation of the restaurants’ owners and their cooks based on structural (dis)advantages. Many Nepali cooks have lost their jobs, and those who have stayed employed have seen their salaries reduced by 30–50%. As a result, cooks, who were already a vulnerable group, have been pushed into a more precarious situation, struggling to merely survive. However, surprisingly, more than 90% of Nepali restaurant owners have maintained their business operations and are still better positioned to weather this crisis than the cooks in their restaurants. This raises an important question: why are Nepali restaurant owners able to cope with the economic fall-out of the pandemic when Nepali restaurant cooks fell into destitution due to the coronavirus pandemic? Based on in-depth research in Japan and Nepal conducted from March 2020 to June 2021, and supplemented by my long-term research before the pandemic, this article will examine Nepali cooks’ social, economic, and structural vulnerabilities by emphasizing their responses to the pandemic and its outcome. Through the voices of the cooks, their families, and Nepali restaurants owners, I demonstrate how the vulnerability and the unequal effects of the pandemic, compounded by preexisting social inequality, exploitation, and socio-economic hierarchies are reverberating throughout the Nepali restaurant industry. Furthermore, by analyzing the relationship between the cooks and the owners, I argue that social networks at meso level not only increase migrants’ ‘resilience’, as suggested by vulnerabilities scholars but conversely involve a measure of exploitation and produce vulnerabilities.