If you are looking for authentic Chinese tastes in Kathmandu, Little China is a renowned restaurant recommended by many people that we met. Located in a small gully in Naxal, it was opened seven years ago. Hidden deep inside Naxal, quite close to the new landmark, the Marriott that was opened recently and the old Chinese Embassy (office of Xinhua News currently), you may not notice it at first. But when you walk past a green wall covered with vegetation, you will then get the full view of Little China.
The restaurant occupies three floors and can accommodate sixty people at any given time, and the dining hall is located on the top floor.The ambience of Little China has been designed to impart a very Chinese feel. Every room has been named after a different flower, such as Azalea or Lily.You can opt to have your meal in the dining hall or a private room, depending on your need or preferences.The layout of Little China is not about extravagance, but elegance.
When we enter a private room, we are amazed by the familiar Chinese decorative style. The whole room looks exactly like what we are used to seeing in China; a round table with sets of Chinese tableware, including bowls, plates, teacups, spoons and chopsticks. A big Chinese knot hangs on the wall just beside a Chinese traditional painting. According to the staff, all the ornaments were brought from China. The previous menu of Little China was only in Chinese, but now they also provide one in English. The elaborate design and familiar dishes make us feel as if we are back in China.
The first dish we try is Kung Pao Chicken, which is an extremely popular Chinese dish here in Little China. Almost every Chinese tourist who comes here will order it. The authentic Kuang Pao Chicken blends three tastes together: sweet, sour and spicy to make something really special. However, considering the local tastes and tourists’ demands, they haven’t added dry chilis, which makes them less spicy than what is the norm. They use local chicken, so the meat quality is a little different from what we get back in China. It doesn't matter if you like spicy food or not, it is a delectable dish that you cannot afford to miss.
One of the most popular Chinese Sichuan delicacies is Spicy Boiled Fish. Although it is not on the menu, we tried Spicy Boiled Basa Fish, which is an extension of Spicy Boiled Fish.The main difference between the two dishes is the feel of the fish in your mouth. Since the fish available in Nepal are not suitable for preparing Spicy Boiled Fish, the local Basa fish is selected. Although Basa fish is not as rubbery as other fish, it feels like it is melting in your mouth, which is a great experience even for Chinese people. This dish retains the core of Spicy Boiled Basa Fish. Additionally, it has its own unique flavor.
As a Chinese national, a vegetarian dish is a must while ordering. So we then asked for Cold Bitter Gourd. The bitter gourds are crispy and fresh. They used local bitter gourds as ingredients, adding garlic seasoning, which is a very authentic Chinese cold dish and bitter gourds are good for health. Because of its taste, some people give a wide berth to them. However, in this particular dish, the bitter taste has been diminished. Even though I am not a fan of bitter gourds, I still highly recommended it.
The last dish we go for is Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs, which is a conventional Chinese homemade dish. In terms of the different areas of China, the original version needs various cooking methods. Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs in Little China leans more towards the Shanghai-style which tastes juicier and fruitier than others. The mushy tomatoes are doughy when we taste it. On the other hand. the spare ribs are bland but soft. Its sweet taste far outweighs the sour flavor and it suits people who love sugary dishes.
On the whole, the food here is relatively less spicy than we are accustomed to in China, which is a good thing for people who dislike spicy food. In addition, the cuisine here is diverse and includes dishes from all over China. Preparing an authentic Chinese dish requires a combination of ingredients, condiments, cooking tools, and culinary skills.The condiments used here are imported from China. Due to regional restrictions, all food items here are from Nepal, which may be a bit different from Chinese ingredients, but at least it ensures freshness as far as possible.
I am not surprised to learn that the chef of Little China comes from Chongqing, China, because you can feel the unadulterated Chinese decorative styles he uses and we have tried Chinese food around China. For Chinese tourists who are used to authentic Chinese food, Little China is a must. A Chinese tourist from Beijing visting the restaurant said, “Every dish here is good; it is the best meal I have had since I came to Nepal.”This was the second time he had come to Little China.
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