One of the great things about living in Nepal these days is the wonderful, wide variety of food that is available to us. There’s so much more in the way of choice than there used to be, and with new restaurants opening all the time, there’s a lot to look forward to as well. Here’s my idea of a delicious day in food.
It was a happy day when Café Soma opened their second venue on the north side of town, closer to where I live. While I still frequent the original café in Patan, these days I find myself more and more often at the one in Baluwatar, opposite the Russian Embassy. I love the tables out in the garden, the little hidden seating nooks inside, and of course the food. And while they do have great sandwiches, burgers, and other dishes, today I’m here for breakfast—more specifically, the Eggs Benedict with ham. Served on thick slices of brown toast, this combination of salty, savory ham and perfectly poached eggs all richly smothered in Hollandaise sauce is my idea of Heaven. There’s always a lemon half on the plate, which I squeeze over everything for extra tang before I dig in. Breakfast is something I usually eat at home, so when I do eat out, I love a dish like this—perfectly made, a little decadent, and a bit more work than I would usually go to if I was cooking for myself. I enjoy each bite with a mug of cappuccino—or two, let’s be honest—made from Café Soma’s specially sourced, locally grown coffee beans. It’s a great start to my day. If you have any room left and a hankering for something sweet, wander over to their bakery counter. There’s so much to love here, but I usually pick one of the Chocolate Chip Muffins – they’re huge and moist, with little nuggets of chocolate throughout. I’m usually too full from breakfast, though, and take one to go for later; they make a perfect midnight snack!
Lunchtime finds me at the Dechenling Garden Restaurant next to Keshar Mahal, just at the beginning of Thamel. Everything on the menu is wonderful, but I particularly love the Tibetan food that is served here. Today I’m having a Chicken Thenthuk and Buff Shabaley. The Shabaley arrives first, the little meat pies fried to perfection, crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside. They’re served with a raw blitzed tomato and chilli achar for dipping—the freshness of the sauce complements the fried richness perfectly, and they are a light dish, without the heaviness fried food can sometimes have. I could always eat just one more of these! The Thenthuk is amazing—rich, thick broth filled with chewy noodles of handmade dough, tender-crisp vegetables and hearty chunks of meat; it’s delicious and filling, and one of my favourite things ever. A friend who often eats here with me orders the Bhutanese Set Meal, which is a good thing because then I get to taste the awesome potato-cheese curry that comes with the meal which is unlike anything I’ve tasted anywhere else. The garden is fresh and full of green, and there are plenty of tables scattered under the shade—midday is really a great time to be here.
One of the best places for coffee around is just around the corner from where I am, at Chikusa in Jyatha. They grind their beans fresh on the spot and the coffee is not only inexpensive, but always, always fragrant and full-bodied. They also have excellent toasted sandwiches and lemon-sugar crepes, but I’m too full from my lunch for them today. Next time!
Japanese cuisine is a favourite of mine, so I’ve decided to eat my evening meal at Dan Ran Japanese Restaurant, which is close to St. Mary’s School in Jawalakhel. This cute little place is run by a Japanese couple, and their menu comes written out on two whiteboards and features a large variety of dishes—some well known and others more unusual. A good choice is always the lunch or dinner set options, which come with lots of tasty and changing vegetable sides—the Pork BBQ set meal is one I select often. This time, though, I’m in the mood for another pork dish, the Katsudon. This is a bowl of rice topped by a golden fried pork cutlet, savory onions, and a gently cooked egg. The onions are soft and their sauce flavours the rice, and combined with the creaminess of the egg and the crunch of the cutlet. Well, you have to believe me when I tell you that it’s a perfect combination. It’s also warming and hearty, which is just what I want on these evenings when it’s chilly. While waiting for my Katsudon I also snack on some of their tasty soy sauce flavored Chicken Wings, which is a perfect, finger licking little dish. When you’ve finished your food do check if there’s any green tea ice cream – it’s not always available but if it is, it’s certainly something you should try; an unusual taste that is creamy and not too sweet, it makes a great end to any Japanese meal.