You get to know a lot about a place from the type of food they serve. On my recent visit to Kathmandu and Pokhara I’ve tried out some amazing food places that truly show how the food scene in these places has grown to fit the taste of the wave of tourists that flock these areas. Nepal overall is a great place to enjoy tasty food at really cheap prices. To add to that, their portions are really generous too. The bill would always come less than what we’d expect. Which is why every time I was left exclaiming to myself “All this food in this much money?!”
So here’s a not-so-little rundown of the variety of food that got my heart singing:
New Orleans Cafe: Visited this place on our first day at Kathmandu. It was around 4pm and we hadn’t eaten anything since we got off the plane at around 1pm. So this cafe with their big portions and even bigger plates and bowls served us well. We ordered a plate of Momos and two types of pasta. Among them the momo tasted the best as both the pastas were a bit too bland for our taste-buds. Overall the food was not amazing but the courtyard style interior with laid back sitting arrangements and intriguing tourists made up for it.
Roadhouse Cafe: In my opinion we totally hit the jackpot with Roadhouse Cafe on our first night at Kathmandu. This time I was equally impressed with the food and the ambience. The place has a rustic feel with both indoor and outdoor seating options. Despite the big (late) lunch we kind of went overboard with the order here (things look so affordable, it’s actually hard not to). We ordered 3 types of Bruschetta ( smoked chicken and yak cheese,tomato and mushroom) a Pizza and Momos yet again because of course, when in Nepal get your dose of Momos! All the items were top notch. The Pizza and the Momos were delicious and the Bruschettas were really light and fresh.
Kathmandu Steakhouse: I think Nepal should be named the land of great steaks at great prices. A mighty steak, Beef Stroganoff and a pasta cost us around 1700 rupees in total. The steak was really good, just as the reviews had said. However, I was a bit disappointed to find out that Beef Stroganoff isn’t as fancy a dish as it sounds. It tasted quite like the Beef with onion that is served at any Chinese restaurant here in Dhaka. So you’re better off ordering a steak here.
Hot Bread: As you will see that I haven’t had that many sweet encounters during my whole trip in Nepal and among the ones I have, I only found one that is worth a mention and that’s Hot Bread. First bite into their brownie and cinnamon roll and I was already thinking to myself why did I come to Hot Bread on my last night in Nepal. I was already sad that I could not go back there another day and taste more of their baked goods. Their brownies are the softest and the most chocolatey brownie I have ever tasted. I don’t like chewy brownies and so the North End brownies in Dhaka were on the top of my list but the brownie I tasted at Hot Bread beats that I’ll say. Their cinnamon roll and chocolate croissant were also really good! Some bakeries make them really hard but the cinnamon roll and chocolate croissant from Hot Bread were the right amount of soft and flaky even the next morning.It’s at the intersection near Purple Haze and don’t be surprised if you see people (foreigners) lining up near it around 9.30pm every night.
Most items are 50% off so you can get some great baked goods at half the price! Actually, most bakeries in Thamel offer discounts on their baked items starting from 7.30pm so you can look out for those and get some good bargains if you’re on a budget for food.
Chick’n Falafel: Among all the big restaurants on Lakeside, Chick’n Falafel really stands out as it’s the only food cart style eatery on that street. We tried the chicken roll one day ( not pictured unfortunately) and falafel and chips the other. The chicken roll is not a roll, it’s more like a very mini kolbalish. It is so big and filling that two people can easily share one unless you’re a hungry monster. It tastes really good too! So I’d highly recommend that if you’re looking for a quick, affordable meal on the go. I’ll be honest I ordered falafel and chips just out of curiosity to know what a falafel was. According to google, “Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. It is a traditional Egyptian and Middle Eastern food.” While it sounded very promising it tasted very ordinary. A lot like the shaak bora that we make for iftar here but the chips that came with it were good.
Paradiso sports bar and grill: This was my first visit to a sports bar and I must say they do a really good job of setting the mood. Indoors the place is bustling with people playing pool, having loud conversations and cheering their favourite team on as football matches are screened while outdoors there is a nice cozy fire set up around which you can sit back, listen to the live music that is playing inside, have some drinks and coffee along with some great conversations. I am known as a person who does not like loud music and crowded places but I went to Paradiso two out of the three nights I was at Pokhara and that says something about the place ( but of course I preferred to sit outside) . The first night I had a pineapple drink and that was quite refreshing and the second night we ordered wings which were quite underwhelming. Still I’d recommend the place not for the food but for the atmosphere.
Once Upon a Time: We went to this place after we were left hungry due to the unimpressive wings at Paradiso.It is a quiet one storied restaurant which is quite the contrast to Busy Bees restaurant that is situated right across the street to it. It was almost closing time when we went there so we hastily ordered a pizza to share. The pizza turned out to be so good and so cheesy that till date I regret not ordering one all for myself. The next night we went there again and tried their steak and as expected it did not disappoint!
Cafe Olive: Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. Most days I wake up with a smile on my face because I’m thinking of breakfast! What makes breakfast in foreign countries even more delightful is the option of outdoor seating- and I’m all about having a hearty breakfast under the sun. The Olive had great reviews on TripAdvisor for their breakfast and looked really nice as well. So sat on the veranda right beside the street and devoured their big plate of breakfast accompanied by a warm cup of coffee. The place and the food were both really good. However, it was one of the more expensive meals we’ve had on the trip.
Marwadi Restaurant: I think for this I will let the photo of the Thali do the talking. The restaurant is quite old and a bit far away from the main part of Lakeside but the food is a pleasant surprise. If you are craving for some indian food this is the place to go. All the savoury items are finger-licking good but the rice pudding (firni/kheer)…..I’d pick my grandmother’s firni over that any day.
In between Kathmandu and Pokhara we also took a day trip to Gorkha. It’s quite a big city but is not really meant for tourists as there aren’t many tourists attractions there. We had lunch at the most popular hotel there called Hotel Bisauni where I had my first and only taste of Thukpa ( a tibetan noodle soup) along with Momo ( no surprises there). The Thukpa was tasty and filling enough to keep me fueled through the adventure we had to undertake to reach Pokhara from there. By the time we had finished lunch at Gorkha, the last bus to Pokhara had left so we had to take a local micro which was packed to the brim to reach Abu Khairani (one hour away) then stand beside the main road ( it was nightfall by then) to catch another local micro to Pokhara.
Other than the aforementioned places, we also enjoyed some really good street food while roaming around the streets of Thamel, Lakeside and during our many hours of travelling by bus.
While there is a vast contrast between the food in these tourist hubs and in the trekking routes one thing remains the same whether you’re at 800m or 1550m of elevation- the simplicity and niceness of the Nepali people. What’s even more noteworthy is their politeness towards women. I already cannot wait to go back and experience more of the natural beauty of that country and of course taste some more good food but I equally look forward to being among those simple minded people who are always eager to help.