It seems, after nine days of eating my way through the city, that Kathmandu has something to offer everyone. The city overflows with tea houses, food carts, vegetable markets and ethnic food of every variety. Between the extensive buffets served as part of the wedding ceremonies and the myriad of restaurant options in Thamel, our group of intrepid diners certainly had our work cut out for us – and packed it in we did.
A few key highlights are below:
– Each event of the marriage ceremony that we attended was accompanied by an extensive buffet of traditional Newari and Napali foods. Many seemed to be variants/similar to Indian dishes I had seen in the past; however these were foods definitely prepared by and for the locals – us westerners often were tearing and sniffling from the spice by mid-plate.
Can anyone clue me in as to why photos taken with the macro setting are always so blue? Anyone? Bueller?
– A locally brewed rice liquor, known as Thoo-n (or Chhaang, a bit like an effervescent sake and poured with a heavy hand), took a bit of the edge off…
Guest houses in Thamel were our home for most of our visit. Crammed with locals and tourists alike, this area of town is a bombardment for the senses: hot, dusty, ear-splitting with vendors hawking their wares by day and dance music by night. It is utterly alive. As a key destination for most visitors, the winding streets are packed with ethnic eateries and cafés.
– Most mornings started at the Pumpernickel Bakery, a café known for their freshly baked breads and pastries. Their (relatively) quiet back garden area provided an ideal location for consulting the guidebook and planning the rest of the day while sipping masala tea.
– We took turns on free nights choosing where to eat among the seemingly infinite possibilities. One of the standouts was Hankook Sarang, a local Korean favorite. The bibimbap came sizzling in its cast-iron pot and accompanied by delicious kimchi, along with other garnishes (boiled peanuts=new favorite thing).
(What I am not able to show you, due to either ravenous hunger, or the nightly rolling blackouts which made taking photos a challenge, are the massive steaks and fajitas (!) that we enjoyed at a local pub, K-Too (ha!). Sometimes we just needed something that reminds us of home.)
Yet, beyond the wedding feasts, it was a main priority to taste local flavor along the way.
– One of the favorites of the group were the Nepali dumplings, called momos, which come in both chicken and vegetable varieties and are available almost everywhere, only differing by the sauces that are served on the side.
– The beverages do deserve mention. I lived off of the hot, spiced, milky masala tea that was ubiquitous and delicious. However, we were there for a grand party, and I learned quickly that whiskey is the celebratory drink of choice in Nepal. Preferably Johnny Walker (of all color variations). Nepal also brews local beer, of which we collectively decided that the Tuborg far outshone Everest variety, although the latter bottle was more entertaining.
– On multiple occasions we had the time to retire to the garden of my guesthouse, which featured free high-speed wi-fi, as well as an extensive cocktail menu. Happy hour drinks clearly complimented the planning we did for the next day.
While I was away, the grand authorities in Paris voted on the best baguettes and best croissants in the city. For the fourth (!) year in a row, the baguette award was given to a boulangerie in my neighborhood. The award for the best croissant? To a bakery very near to the laboratory. Despite leaving the savory and spicy behind in Nepal, I am excited to start sampling and comparing all kinds of new things now that I am home.
Note – I provided links where available for Thamel restaurant information. As most places don’t have street addresses, sometimes the tour guide links are my next best option.