Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kathmandu Food Hunt: Where's my Rice Meal?

Where To Eat In Kathmandu Nepal

Namaste! Do you have rice here? That’s me in my most desperate attempt to have my rice meal in Kathmandu.

On the night we arrived at Kathmandu, we combed every restaurant and eatery for a decent meal after spending a day at Kuala Lumpur for our connecting flight. Me and my buddy devoured too much Mee Gorengs and Kopi Ice on our KL layover/food trip and I was kinda expecting the same thing in Kathmandu.

After our 5-hour flight to Kathmandu, we were famished to death. It was 9:30 in the evening and it seemed like all the food establishments in Kathmandu called it a day. With nothing to munch for that evening we checked out our food stash and just delighted ourselves with M&M’s peanuts and some macadamia nuts – all brought from the Philippines. 

I was really in a bad mood that night and didn’t wanna do anything. I just succumbed into the hunger and was overly dramatic about the situation – that’s me when I’m hungry. And sleepy.

I woke up that chilly morning still bearing the bad mood I had the night before. I was too hungry that all I could think about was to eat anything, like anything. We didn’t go further and had our breakfast at Hotel Ganesh Himal. It was very filling (and brought my sanity back) but I was yearning for more; a legit Nepali dish that I could truly enjoy.

During our “walking temple tours” around the city, we noticed a Nepali eatery along the road that serves Nepali dishes.

Welcome to Kantipur Tandoori Bhojanalaya, Kamal Pokhari was the only thing I understood on the signage outside the eatery (plus Coca Cola). And then Nepalese scripts were written all around it. This place looks like legit so we went inside to try out some authentic Nepali dish.

Kathmandu Nepal Food
This.looks.legit.
We were welcomed by one of the servers who, by the way, spoke good English. Photos on tarp of their dishes are posted on one of the walls which was great for we wouldn’t know where and how to start getting some nice food. We were quite intrigued with the Khana Set and the Chow Mein on the menu and decided to get those (although we really wanted to get everything on the menu).

A Khana Set, as told by a server, is a typical Nepali dish which has steamed rice, dal, curried vegetables, pickles, salad, soup and a selection of meat item (mutton, chicken, lamb, paneer). We tried the chicken version. The Chow Mein, on the other hand, is your typical stir-fried noodles with some herbs and choice of meat toppings (chicken, buff). We had buff (Water Buffalo meat) as our toppings. Everything (plus two sodas) was priced at 520 Rupees (US$5.20).

As we were waiting for our food to be served, we saw some locals enjoying their Khana Sets (using their bare hands). It was quite noticeable how the side dishes were replenished instantaneously as soon as the cups were empty, and it’s for free!

Kathmandu Nepal Food

Our food arrived in no time and we started digging into the Khana Set first. First in order was a fried tortilla-ish crackers. And then the soup. And then the fried veggies. And then the curried veggies. And then the meat. And then the tangy, sour yogurt dip. We were so overwhelmed that the moment our cups were cleared a server would replenish it with the same amount every time (except for the meat). We had to politely refuse the next batches of replenishments for we were quite full with almost three extra servings of each item. We were so overwhelmed. And the taste? It was quite good. You just have to get the right combination of stuff to munch on to really appreciate the dish.

Kathmandu Nepal Khana Set
Nepali Khana Set
And then we realized that we still have the Chow Mein Buff on our table (which will soon be my buddy’s all-time fave dish in Nepal). Thanks to this eatery for we had a really good first bite on this one. It looks like a typical stir-fried noodles but no, this one’s different. The noodle in itself is tasty that the toppings are nice complement to the whole thing. The crunchy buff chunks on top added a nice texture. It was love at first sight for my buddy.

Kathmandu Nepal Chow Mein Buff
Chow Mein Buff
After the temple runs we had that day, we spotted some nice food finds at the very busy area of Asan. There’s this Momo (dumpling) that’s pretty much famous all around town. For 80 Rupees (US$ 0.80), you get ten Momos with curry dip on a big platter. You can choose from different fillings; meat (chicken, mutton, lamb, paneer), vegetable or cheese. We got to try the steamed chicken Momo. The verdict? I didn’t like it much. The flavor of every ingredient was too strong that nothing stood out. It seemed like there’s a battle inside my mouth for a few seconds.

Kathmandu Nepal Food
Dine-in?
Kathmandu Nepal Momo
Momo
Another food find was the Pani Puri (60 Rupees/US$ 0.60). It’s a puffed up thin shell (wheat flatbread) that’s filled with a mixture of vegetables, chickpeas, potatoes and other ingredients. A greenish dip completes the whole thing. I took a bite, didn’t like it, and then tried to top it with the dip, and didn’t like it. Let’s move on.

Kathmandu Nepal Pani Puri
Pani Puri
Around Thamel, we chanced upon this hole-in-the-wall eatery that serves Chow Mein early in the morning (Nepali people usually munch on breads and pastries for breakfast). I noticed a poster of San Miguel Beer inside and shrieked,San Miguel Beer is from the Philippines! The guy inside just looked me in the eye with some mixed-up stare and then asked us what we’re getting.

Kathmandu Nepal Food

Kathmandu Nepal Food
San Miguel is from the Philippines!
And the guy gave me that and-so-what reaction.
We had, of course, Vegetable Chow Mein (60 Rupees/US$ 0.60 each) and some Nepali Black Tea (15 Rupees/US$ 1.50 each). I also got intrigued with what I thought were peanuts, it was chickpeas after all (5 Rupees/US$ 0.05). Chow Mein was nice and the Tea was refreshing.

I noticed a bakeshop across it so I got some pretzel-like bread too which they refer to as Cell (15 Rupees/US$ 0.15). At first bite, it became my favorite bread. I just love the crusty, tasty (not sweet) outer shell and the soft, chewy dough inside. I’m not a “bread person” but I was digging the Cell.

Kathmandu Nepal Chow Mein
Chow Mein, Nepali Black Tea and Cell.
Good morning!
Kathmandu Nepal Food
I want those peanuts.
Oh, it's chickpeas. Ugh!
And then my favorite, the Lumbini Tandoori Bhojanalaya eatery along Chhetrapati Road. It was around dinnertime and, again, I was craving for rice. We entered this unassuming eatery that serves all-day Nepali dishes. We were given the menu and to my delight, there were rice meals. But then, when I saw this legit coal oven for Rotis (flat bread made from wholemeal flour), I immediately decided to forget about the rice meals.

Kathmandu Nepal Food

Kathmandu Nepal Food

Kathmandu Nepal Roti
Fresh Roti
Roti. Me and my buddy consumed all our KL layovers savoring Roti and curry dip with Kopi Ice and seeing a legit coal oven especially for Rotis in Kathmandu just made my day.  

Plain Naan or Roti?
We’ll get both.

Kathmandu Nepal Roti

Kathmandu Nepal Roti

We immediately got eight fresh Rotis on our plate and got some Egg Curry and Omelet Masala for the “dips”. So where do I start? I love the soft and flaky texture of the Roti, I can eat it on its own, as for the dips, both were great but I fell in love with Omelet Masala. The herbs and spices incorporated in its thick, curry-based sauce were divine. It was perfect and cheap too (360 Rupees/US$ 3.60 for everything plus sodas)

Egg Masala Curry
Omelet Masala, Egg Curry and Roti
What time are you opening tomorrow?
Around nine in the morning.

And we went back right there the next morning. End of story.








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