As new eateries flood Kathmandu city with cuisines from all over the world, make sure you know about the best new places to dine in.
Hungry Jack Restro, Maiti Ghar
Hungry Jack Restro is right on the main road in front of St. Xavier’s College—look out for the bright red of the interior. Due to its location it’s becoming popular amongst students, as well as many others in the area, and it’s easy to see why. In addition to many classic favourites, this eatery has several unusual and interesting menu items on offer, and all at affordable prices. We first tried the Crispy Chicken Burger, and it certainly lived up to its name. Unlike most places that make their burgers with minced meat, here a whole piece of chicken meat is used instead, breaded with corn flakes, and fried till really crisp. It was delicious and a pleasure to eat – it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular items on the menu! Another crowd-pleaser here is the Chicken Parmesan, something that you don’t see that often in Kathmandu. While I wished it was as crispy as the burger, I did love the awesome combination of tasty chicken, oozy melting cheese, and flavourful tomato sauce; and like the burger it comes with a side of thin-cut crunchy potato chips; definitely a winner! The Singapore-style fried rice is a new take on a classic dish—its taste reminds me of biriyani. If you love rice, this generously portioned dish will be what you want to order. We ended our meal with the Chicken Peri Peri Wrap, which was tasty and delicious—another one that like the burger, will keep you going back for more.
Overall, I was really impressed by the good portions and affordable prices. This is a place where you can eat well and yet not spend too much. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed and there are lots of events planned under the new management—such as cocktail/mocktail events, as well as a live acoustic band every Friday. There is lots of comfortable seating and a large glassed in deck where you can chill out and watch the world go by; especially in the evening the lighting is beautiful. Open daily from 10 am to 10 pm.
Zen Bistro &Café
Zen Bistro & Café is a brand new eatery in Bansbari. If you live on the north side of town like I do, you’ll know that there isn’t that much variety in places to eat around here, and it looks like Zen will go a long way in filling that gap. From the owners of Tamarind and Embassy, this newly opened, beautiful restaurant focuses on Thai food. Chef Piya is here from Thailand to train the kitchen staff in how to prepare authentic Thai dishes, and she had selected some specials for us to try.
The Fresh Spring Rolls were simply amazing – not fried as we’re used to, but raw, delicately sliced vegetables rolled in rice paper, with two dipping sauces, one sweet and one a little more tangy and spicy. This is a vegetarian dish, but I can guarantee you won’t miss the meat, and the bright, fresh flavours are perfect for these hot summer days. The Thai-style Grilled Pork was also a winner: crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside and all round flavorful; it was also served with a dipping sauce that tied it all together and really took it to the next level. We ended with the Shrimp Pad Thai—it was attractively presented with the noodles gathered in a delicate egg net, a dish just filled with delicious flavours. Zen also has a wide variety of drinks—both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, as well as delicious looking desserts. I think the savoury food is the real highlight, though, and the nature of the dishes make them perfect for trying something new and for sharing with friends.
Of course Zen isn’t only about the food—what really elevates everything and makes this a unique and attractive dining experience is the ambiance. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into the décor and design of each part of the building. Multiple rooms provide different seating options, both inside and out, including large comfy couches to lounge on, balcony and outdoor seating, and an awesome looking bar area. I found the entire experience extremely enjoyable and look forward to coming back really soon. Zen Bistro & Café is open daily from 11 am to 10 pm.
GG Machaan’s, Damkal Road , Pulchowk
GG Machaan’s is a wonderful little hidden gem in the bustle of Pulchowk – as you go inside you realize there’s so much more to the place than you can see from the outside. Recently renovated after the earthquake, it is now fully reopened with several seating areas, each with their own distinct décor and focus. From the fun, trendy bar to the new bright café space and fine dining area downstairs to the upstairs seating area, which was my favourite – bright and open and full of green – you really feel that you are up in the trees, as intended by their chosen name. The restaurant has been open for five years now, and serves up Asian fusion food as well as both Nepali and continental items. As Sudhir Khatri, one of the restaurant’s promoters explained to me, they started out with Indian food – Hyderabadi-style kebabs and biriyanis, and slowly introduced Nepali, Continental, as well as Mexican and South American dishes. “Good food is not enough,” says Khatri, “You also need great service and a nice environment. A good restaurant is made up of both.” And you definitely feel that here – the ambiance is relaxing and you feel very far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s really nice.
I started my meal with the Ostrich Sandwich, which was a pleasant surprise—if you’ve never eaten ostrich it’s a good way to try it. Another original dish served here is the Liver Wrap, which is two rolls filled with liver paste, olives, lettuce, and jalapenos, as well as a delicious fresh salsa and refreshing sour cream on the side to stuff your roll with further. Also refreshing for these summer days are the smoothies—the mango is tangy and refreshing and the strawberry one is great for sweet lovers, and there’s a special breakfast menu that includes pancakes and other favourites. And of course I have to mention GG Machaan’s famous Jhol Momo. It’s one of the most popular items here and for good reason. I loved it—what a great sauce!
In addition to the tasty food, there is also yoga each morning at 6 am, and a cycling adventure sports club meets here regularly – there’s a great bike shop in front of the restaurant, too. And you can catch the live band Wednesday and Friday evenings; GG Machaan’s is open daily from 11 am to 10 pm.