HIDDEN INSIDE THE BUZZ
Making your way to a peaceful scenario in and around the hustling area of Boudha is quite a task. But what if we tell you that there is more to laphing and spaghetti in Boudha, that too in a peaceful environment? And if you are a vegetarian or vegan, voila! You will be in the right place! The Utpala Café, hidden inside the buildings and along the narrow pathways of Boudha, serves you more than just the basic mainstream vegetarian food. Hidden inside the buzz of Boudha with a peaceful garden and Farmers Market taking place twice a week, Utpala is worth visiting if you are around the area. But if you think the ambience here is the only attraction for a quiet workstation and dining with your friends, wait until you try the delicious range of unique vegan food. When Utpala café invited TNM to dine at their place, we sat beside the lush garden enjoying the drizzling rain and devouring on the tastiest dishes we have had in awhile.
Mushroom Vegan Soup
The creamy mushroom soup made from three different types of mushrooms— shitake, oyster and king oyster — blended into thick texture and boiled with soy milk, salt and pepper until medium simmer and garnished with freshly chopped kale leaves, sprouts and lemon gest is healthy yet loaded with divine creamy flavour. It adds as a perfect starter to have on a cold rainy day. It is a simple dish to dive into with little experimental flavours.
Vegan avocado toast
A delightful twist to the basic avocado breakfast toast, the vegan avocado toast here at Utpala comes with a bite sized bread topped with fresh lettuce dressed with balsamic vinegar, pinch of salt, sugar and special Utpala ingredients, chopped cherry tomatoes, finely diced onion, avocado and topped with fresh sprouts. Sweet yet sourness to the taste buds due to balsamic vinegar and sugar adds a flavoursome breakfast option one can indulge into. You can’t wait to have another bite.
Vegan Apple Salad
If you’re a salad lover who loves the taste of crunchy lettuce and fruits with experimental dressing then vegan apple salad is a must try here at Utpala. Palate full of fresh lettuce, sprouts, crunchy apples, tomatoes, onions dressed with pepper, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, pinch of sugar, salt, lemon gest and lemon juice garnished with coriander and freshly chopped sprouts make it a simple, fresh satisfying meal, perfect for winter days.
If you’re craving for rice and all you want to have is a plate full of yummy satisfying rice with veggies then Jogi Rice is perfect for you. According to the chef, this is the most selling dish of the café and the main motive of this dish is bringing back the childhood memories where he used to have fried rice mixed with veggies as an afternoon snack. This dish consists of potatoes, green peas, green beans, chopped carrots and onions slow cooked with rice. Added to it are cumin seeds, turmeric, pepper, green chilies which is served steaming hot in a clay pot. A spoonful of Jogi Rice definitely carries you to the lane of childhood.
Can’t get enough of momos? Try the charcoal variant momo here at Utpala café. The regular veg stuffed momo with a twist of charcoal and beetroot pastry is unique dish to look at. The colorful momo of black and red makes it attracting even before having a bite. Not just delightful to look at but when you bite into those beautiful dumpling dipping into the flavourful achar, it lingers your tastebuds. The bite sized dumplings made with a spoonful of seasoned veg stuffing wrapped in a charcoal and beetroot mixed dough is clearly a rustic yet modernised version of traditional momos. Vegetarians don’t need to worry about the bland momos now as they can certainly visit Utpala for the unique flavour of variant momos!
Kathmandu houses tons of restaurants who serve varieties of pizza ranging from mediocre cheese crusts to heavenly firewood pizzas. Hence, especially for vegans, there aren’t many places serving mouthwatering ones. But Utpala Café is on the rescue with their own vegan pizzas. The medium crispy crust with generous amount of soy cheese topped with mushroom, green peas and tomatoes have the unique sugary after taste. The end of the crust is filled with dried tomatoes mixed with Chinese five spice mix and oizon sauce. Even if you’re not vegan, you’ll still want for more.ood memories of homemade vegetable rice.
We are familiar with the traditional yomari filled with molasses or concentrated milk but this Newari delicacy is upgraded with even more flavours. Utpala serves the traditional sweet dish with unique chocolate flavours.
So, if you are crazy about chocolate then its fusion with yomari comes together as a sweet escape in a single plate. Yummy hot chocolate with peanuts stuffed inside the thick rice dough served along with the vanilla ice-cream on the side and garnished by fresh strawberries is a sugary delight to have on any day.
TEXT BY PRIJA KOIRALA | PHOTOS BY GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR