Pioneers and trends setters, Nanglo has managed to win the hearts of Nepali consumers for 45 years. Taijash Kakshapati is the current Managing Director of Nanglo Cafe and Pub but he is also a chef, and remains on course when it comes to maintaining the heritage of serving the best food to the Nepali people.

Nanglo is a pioneer in the Nepali restaurant industry? Could you tell us a little about the history of Nanglo?
Nanglo was started by my father and my uncle in 1976. It was a small 16 seater pub in Durbar Marg. Back then the restaurant industry was not as big as it is today. They started it out of passion, but they worked hard and it caught on. Today we’ve grown into a restaurant company with multiple ventures. The Nanglo in Kamaladi was opened in 2016. Here we've got two menus, the multi cuisine one and also a Chinese menu.

You have inherited an immense heritage, were you always sure that you wanted to get into the same business as your family?
I was always inclined towards the restaurant business. Right after school, I got into a culinary school in New York. It was a proper full time college with a four year course. I did a few jobs after that; the last job I had was at the Four Seasons. I was a chef myself, before stepping and taking up the mantle as the second generation restaurateur. I trained and learned, did all this to take the family business to the next level.

How was the experience studying culinary arts in New York?
It was like a proper college experience. America is such a melting pot so I got that exposure. It really helped me grow intellectually and mentally in terms of food.

Studying in New York, how did you get to know more about the local cuisine?
I grew up here so I was always exposed to the local Nepali cuisine. When I came back from New York, I came back with a different mindset. My skill level had gone up and I could make better sense of the local cuisine. That’s the advantage of having a formal education. It has really helped me.

Having a multi cuisine menu, how difficult is it to adapt to the Nepali Palette?
I think it happens naturally. For example If I go to Italy, and learn to make a pizza and then come back here to make it .Then it naturally is going to be slightly different because you have to use ingredients available locally. So the change in taste in the cuisine is a natural progression. Our menu in Nanglo is the prime example of how we can make different cuisine using locally available ingredients. I’d say our food is not authentic by any standards but we are successful because we know how to adapt to the local clientele. Taste can’t be forced. I can’t say to a customer that it’s the way they eat in France so you have to like it. I need to adapt to you. 
 Basically it’s not about making customers adapt to the restaurant’s taste rather it’s about the restaurant adapting to the customer’s taste.

The restaurant market right now is booming, how are you relevant in this competitive market?
We don’t try to change ourselves completely. We don’t jump into the trend. We like to adapt to the flavor profile rather than trend strengths. Obviously change is inevitable, but we do it in a way that it’s not overtly noticeable. Especially in our case, our restaurant is very nostalgic to our clients. People our age have grown up eating here. We don’t want the clients to feel a drastic change.

What’s the future plan for Nanglo?
Our goal is to become a restaurant company and come up with different products. By products I mean restaurants. We don’t want to sell the same product at different locations. Naturally as the city expands there will be a few branches but we don’t plan to go around replicating Nanglo everywhere. Our vision is to become a restaurant company with different products and portfolios, giving different cuisines and experiences. One or two good restaurants is better than ten average restaurants, which is again very different from the current trend, where it’s all about the number of franchises.

‘Cause you’re a chef, how often do you experiment with food and the recipe?
With Nanglo the restaurant, we’ve very little freedom to experiment. This is the sort of restaurant where people know exactly what they want. When the waiter comes they might even teach the waiter how the food should be. But I think that’s a complement of being a brand. But we have a catering wing where we get to experiment and do a lot of fun stuff. It’s a blank canvas and we can do anything the client wants.

Anything interesting you’ve created that you want to share?
Recently I catered a birthday party for my friend’s two-year-old kid. We had something called a grazing table. Basically there’s a big dining table and the food is spread all over it. It’s like how cows graze; you just go and pick things up.

Being one of the marketl eaders, what are the changes that you’re trying to bring to the food and restaurant industry?
We’re trying to be more sustainable. I know it’s not an overnight thing but we’re taking baby steps. One thing we’re doing is sourcing ingredients locally. What that means is we’re trying to source the ingredients from a certain proximity. Frozen fish from outside Nepal is not very sustainable; it has a large carbon footprint. If we can find really good fish from Janakpur, why  do we have to get frozen fish? It is fresher, cheaper, sustainable, and helps the local economy. But again there are certain logistic problems; it is difficult finding all the products locally. We can’t really use the products that come only once in a while. There needs to be consistency. But we try to go local whenever possible. For example, for years and years we’ve imported ducks from outside the country. But recently we visited a farm in Godavari where they’ve good ducks. Just yesterday we received our first shipment of Nepali ducks. Another thing we're doing is creating menus according to season. For example, we're using mangoes and carrots right now because it’s summer and we get good quality in it. This again helps the local economy and promotes sourcing local ingredients.

You being in this industry for a long time, what’s your take on the recent restaurant boom?
This is natural and this was bound to happen. It’s a really good thing because now we’ve become an industry. Anybody can think about joining the restaurant business now, and the more this happens the more the industry grows. The eating out culture is also growing rapidly. Once, going to a restaurant was a recreation now it’s slowly becoming a necessity. Slowly like in any big city, people will start eating less at home and more outside. This will create more demand and more supply and food will become cheaper because there will be more options. Overall it’s a great thing that this boom happened.

"Our vision is to become a restaurant company with different products and portfolios, giving different cuisines and experiences."

Pan Roasted Fish with Mango Slaw
Carrot Puree, Mint Chimichurri, Walnut & Pistachio Crumble

Serves 2
 
Ingredients 
 

- Local River Fish Fillet (any) – 400 gm
- Mango - 1 each
- Chinese Cabbage- 180 gm
- Carrot – 200 gm
- Onion – 20 gm
- Red Chilly (de-seeded) – to taste
- Garlic Cloves – 8 gm
- Ginger – 4 gm
- Cilantro – 10 gm
- Parsley – 10 gm
- Thyme – 10 gm
- Green Onion – 10 gm
- Olive Oil – 80 ml
- Butter – 50 gm
- Lemon Juice – 10 ml
- White Wine Vinegar – 5 gm
- Walnut – 20 gm
- Pistachio – 20 gm
- Sesame Seed – 10 gm
- Salt – to taste
- Black Pepper – to taste
- Sugar – to taste
- Water – as needed  
- Pre heat a sauté pan with oil until it reaches a smoking point and place your fish fillets (skin side down) until it gets a good sear. Once seared properly turn the heat down, add some butter, ginger and thyme. Baste the fish in the pan until  cooked. 
- For the slaw, use a sharp knife to cut your cabbage, mango, green onion and red chilly into thin strips (julienne). Lightly season with salt and place in a mixing bowl. 
- Prepare the vinaigrette for the slaw by adding crushed garlic cloves, cilantro (no stem), salt, black pepper, sugar, white wine vinegar in a mixing bowl and give it a gentle stir. Once all the ingredients are incorporated well, slowly drizzle olive oil and whisk it continuously until it reaches a vinaigrette consistency.
- Remove the excess water from the slaw by squeezing it and dress with the prepared vinaigrette. 
- In a sauté pan and toast the walnut, pistachio and sesame seed individually in an equal mixture of butter and olive oil. Once toasted, grind everything together (mortar and pestle works best), and season with salt.
- For the carrot puree, cut the carrots into a medium dice (peeled), and cook them in salted boiling water until done. While they are still hot, drain the carrots and place them in a food blender. Add softened butter, salt, black pepper and a few table spoons of the water used to boil the carrots. Slowly drizzle the olive oil until it has reached a desired smooth puree consistency. 
- For the chimichurri, add finely chopped garlic, onion, crushed mint leaves, vinegar, olive oil and salt.