YOUR GUIDE TO THE BEST LOCAL FOOD IN KATHMANDU
A perfect specimen of a place that has learnt to live with the fusion of both old and modern, Kathmandu is difficult to be portrayed in a sentence. With a potpourri of culture, arts, tradition and food, the Valley is more than just a place—it ’s an emotion. From the aesthetic gulleys to the friendly people living here, Kathmandu has a lot to offer. And if you are looking to try some authentic yet comforting cuisines during your stint in Kathmandu, then one thing is for sure, you won’t be disappointed.
“The mix of traditional and modern dishes gives your tastebud a moonstruck.
When it comes to food and restaurants, the hustling city offers you a collection of native but easy to find food.Nepali cuisine often gets overpowered by its headstrong neighbours but don’t mistake this as complacency because when you are in Kathmandu, not only is the city itself surprising but the mix of traditional and modern dishes gives your tastebud a moonstruck. This month, TNM has your back with few of our favourite food sites that will tickle your food soul and leave you in food coma.
Yomari on the streets of Basantapur
Besides tattoo parlours, souvenir shops, artistic monuments and aesthetic jewellery showcased at the streets, Basantapur has a lot to offer, especially when it comes to food. When strolling around Basantapur, you will find tons of restaurants with ethnic Newari dishes. The whole alley of Freak Street may give you a bit of European vibe but you’ll definitely find some street cooked dishes like bara, samai baji and our all-time favourite yomari. They can usually be found on the streets of Basantapur or tiny hole -in-the-walls in Freak Street.
The pointy pockets of dough filled with caramelised milk and sesame seeds are closed up and steamed into a delicious explosion of sticky sweetness. An ethnic Newari dish passed on from generations, today, we can find varieties of this traditional exquisite dish in all the corners of the city. However, the ones at Newa: Nasa in Basantapur Food Court are to die for. So the next time you are around Basantapur don’t miss out their tasty yomari.
Newari cuisine at Honacha
Patan can be overwhelming to navigate, thanks to all the bahals and courtyards connected to each other by narrow alleys. But despite the vivid colours and Pagoda style temples, Patan is also quite famous for its authentic food. Tucked away in the northern side of Patan, right next to Bhimsen Temple, is Honacha — a small eatery serving the tastiest Newari delicacies for the past few decades.
Ducking into the leaning doorway, you’ll have to squeeze through the congested kitchen to find yourself a table but this is where you can smell the vivid aroma of spices while watching your food being prepared. Bhatmas sadeko, buff choila, kachila, woh, bhuttan, chhyang and aalu, the mellow taste of everything that Honacha offers is a must try for. The steel tumbler of white Chhyang gives a sweet taste with a bit of fizz and when you bite into a spoon full of beaten rice with a hint of aalu, choila, bhatmas and bhuttan, the amalgam of spices gives an oozing yet perfect taste. Not to forget, the keema bara here is crispy yet subdued soft with the earthy flavours of fermented black lentil interior and egg. Honacha indeed is a distinct and delicious representation of authentic Newari cuisine.
Gwaramari on a cold morning
Getting up on a cold winter morning seems quite cruel but the thought of authentic breakfast can make you leave your warm bed to head straight to the streets of Kathmandu is search of Gwaramari.
A traditional Newari food made of fried balls of puffy dough brings back a lot of memories, especially during winter mornings. You can easily get the taste of Gwaramari on the streets of Kathmandu before the sun rises in the East. Every tea shop in Kathmandu, mostly on the streets of durbar squares ser ves Gwaramari with some Halwa on the side but if you go after nine you will have to return solely disappointed. The perfect Gwaramari is crispy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside with a hint of salty taste. These tasteful balls are best betrothed with strongly brewed milk tea. You can go out for a morning walk and buy a bag full of Gwaramari along with sweet Halwa for just 20 rupees. What can be more appetising than having breakfast on the streets of Basantapur or even Patan with the artistic paranomic view of beautiful monuments
Bringing back the memories at Snowman
Rewinding the reels to the time when Jhochhen was filled with the smoke of cigars, smell of marijuana, and the mixed smell of foreign perfumes and the string of guitar playing Beatles, one can only imagine how cool the street was. That era of Basantapur when Jhochhen was not todays Freak Street, there was no Thamel to beat the paths. Times may have changed but there still is a tiny cozy place in the old Jhochhen retaining its old charm—Snowman Café.
Established in 1965 AD with no renovations since then, Snowman welcomes you with tungsten lights, smoke hitting the air when you open the door, old paintings of Bob Marley and the carved aged wooden tables and chairs that take you on a time travel to the 80’s. But wait, there’s more to Snowman than the cozy atmosphere. Famous for their mouth-watering bakery items crafted with love, Snowman is run by a very cool father-son duo. From authentic cheese cakes to brownies and hot lemon, you will not be disappointed. Everyone seems to have one favourite from the varieties of yearning cakes to choose from. While coffee cake, coconut cake, apple pie and chocolate brownies may have won the heart, the ultimate favourite happens to be the apple crumble pie. Fresh apples stewed into a sweet pulp mixed with the firmer apple slices and topped by the toasted crumbs, the pie here at Snowman will leave you wanting for more.
Crispy Fries at BK’s place
Now considered as a tourists’ centre in Kathmandu, Thamel has this labyrinthine feel to it, thanks to uncountable alleys and side streets. Few of the best restaurants in town are tucked inside those alleys but when it comes to fast food joints one cannot miss the BK’s fries.
Opposite to Funky Buddha, BK’s Fries is a very popular place and rightly so it aptly serves crispy hot French fries with half a dozen piquant dips on the side. These fries kick off your palate with just the right kind of crunch and absolutely addictive taste. It takes only two to three minutes to perfect the fires and when the chef pulls out mixing with different herbs and spices, the taste comes out to linger your tongue. BK’s has a great range of dips to try from. You can opt for something elemental as ketchup and mayonnaise or you can even go for hot ketchup, cocktail, devil sauce, tartar, exotic patatje oorlog or even pinda sauce. Your fries come wrapped in a paper cone on a diner tray making the fries an ideal take away item but yes there’s a lot space to sit down with your friends and enjoy the tasteful fries as well.
Text by Prija Koirala
Photos by Royal Raj Manandhar