14-20 March 2014 #698

Bargain Bites

You don’t need to spend a fortune to eat your way around the world in Kathmandu. Here's our top picks for places under Rs 500.

New Dish

No pampering service but the best momos

New Dish (ND) has the most basic décor. It serves no tea or coffee, and lingering long after one's meal is frowned upon. Also, there are only 14 tables and there is always a rush. It's not the most conducive environment to have a heart-to-heart but you don’t go to ND for long conversations. You go there to eat, eat good food quickly and leave. With just about twenty items, your choice is limited: soup, momos, fried rice, noodles, a few well-loved Nepali snacks and not much else. But momos are what ND is famous for and what great momos they are.

Best dish Pork Momo

Meal for one Rs 350

In New Road, enter the road leading to Khichapokhari and look out for a little Shiva Linga. In front of it is a little dark entrance, the shops surrounding it sell musical instruments and cheap lingerie. Enter, walk up the flight of stairs and you are there.

Korean Kitchen Picnic

Japanese style lunchboxes with Korean flavour

Among the Korean options in Thamel, Korean Kitchen Picnic is the cheapest but least Korean. No tabletop grills for kalbi cooking action in either one of its oddly separated dining areas; no spicy, pickled napa cabbage (a standard kimchi) so essential to Korean cuisine. Instead this decade-old establishment once run by Korean expats, offers an extensive catalog of traditional Korean intermixed with mock bentos (Japanese lunch sets). Offerings include a bento box of barbecue pork or beef, pork cutlet, fried fish or chicken, or hamburger steak. Each set comes with an assortment of freshly cooked sides.

Best dish Pork BBQ

Meal for one Rs 500

Off a tangent on the northern side of Tridevi Marg opposite the taxi train, closed every 25th of the month.

The Village Café

Home-cooked Newari goodness

With its home-made quality food and affordable prices, The Village Cafe is an ideal place for lunch and dinner. Started by Sabah Nepal, (SAARC Administration Business Association of Home Based Workers), the cafe employs around 30 women. The women use their indigenous culinary knowledge to whip up tasty Newari dishes seven days a week. Besides Newari favourites ala Bara, Choyela, you have to try their famous Cheese balls (only Rs 90). The dining area is located in the open, with large umbrellas to provide shade. The best part about eating here: you’ll leave with a content tummy and happy heart knowing that your meal (in a small way) is helping disadvantaged women.

Best dish Khuwa Yamari (Rs 35)

Meal for one Rs 400

From the Ashok Stupa alongside Pulchok Road, follow the road north past the Ncell telecom building and look out for the Village Café’s sign on the left.

Café Hessed

Stop your calorie count once you enter

For those accustomed to our chiya pasal ko doughnuts, Hessed is a revelation. Take your pick from rows upon rows of doughnuts glazed with dark and white chocolate (with multi-coloured sprinkes), doughnuts armed with choco-chips, strawberry jam-filled doughnuts, and more. Prices are reasonable too, at Rs 60-70 per piece, compared to other ‘fancy’ coffeeshops about town. Most of what’s at Hessed is consistently good rather than exceptional, which probably suits cupcakes and doughnuts just fine. Along with the sugar-filled goodies, the café also whips up intriguing drinks from green tea lattes to more safe choices. Hessed is ideal for coffee dates, or simply to bring your laptop and work without the distraction of restobar tastes in music.

Best dish Blueberry filled doughnuts

Meal for one 300

Towards the near end of Jhamel’s Restaurant Lane, on the right before New Orleans, 5530993

Le Trio Restaurant and Bar

The experience of eating momos in a Parisian café Le Trio is one of the inexpensive places to eat in an otherwise expensive street. The vintage-esque posters that line the walls, silver gilt-edged clock, and rustic wooden tables all give the impression that you’ve stepped out of noisy Kathmandu into a 1960s Parisian café but the menu is very much local in its taste.  The restaurant is known for serving the best jhol momos and boy, are they good. Drenched in a large, piping hot bowl of achaar (tomato sauce), the thinly skinned momos remind us once again why this simple dish is a national staple.

Best dish: Jhol Momo

Meal for one Rs 400

Towards the near end of Jhamsikhel's Restaurant Lane, opposite to New Orleans and next to Singma Food Court.

Yak Restaurant

Dusty and grimy tables offering the best Chinese

At Rs 20 a pop for a bowl of rice and Rs 10 for a tingmo, a visit to Yak may feel like travelling back in time. This tiny hole in the wall serves the best Chinese food to be had this side of the border at the most reasonable prices. A good old plate of mala tofu costs Rs 130, the chicken with fungus Rs 240, fried white find Rs 170 and chicken fried rice Rs 120. No chop suey drowning in tomato ketchup or chili-this-and-that which make up most menus at so-called ‘Chinese’ restaurants. Go in only if you are ready to overlook the dirt and grime for the pleasure of digging into bowls of gastronomic delights.

Best dish Spicy pork

Meal for one Rs 400

Walk clockwise around the Bouddhanath Stupa until you see an alley beside a huge gumba. Walk through the alley pass the street-side shops until you see Yak Restaurant on your right.

Japanese Noodle Kitchen

With love from Japan

Japanese Noodle Kitchen may not be located in the most ideal of places: at the Dhobighat stretch of Ring Road, all chaos and cacophony, dust and debris. But it’s a welcome surprise in a neighbourhood not known for high-quality, low-cost food. JNK offers a fresh, fast, uncomplicated Japanese dining experience at an affordable price. The focus, as the name suggests is, on noodles, whether in ‘dry’, curried dishes, or by adding substance to steaming bowls of broth. All noodles come with a side of kimchi and a range of condiments (powdered and pickled chili, soy sauce, and others) to spice things up a little.

Best dish Chicken Curry noodles

Meal for one 400

Coming from Jawalakhel, turn right onto Ring Road at Nakhu Dobato and you’ll find Japanese Noodle Kitchen wedged between On the Grill and Kwality Food Café.

The Chips factory

Fresh, fried, homemade chips

Serving over 15 different flavours, ranging from the conventional (tomato, chilli, cheese) to the exotic (pineapple, banana, and mango) this no-name chips shop at Pimbahal, Patan is a well-kept local secret. The chips made at the owner’s house are fresh and crunchy to the bite. The friendly owner even lets you mix the different flavours at no extra cost. Rs 100 gets you a bag of chips that is enough to be shared by four people. Next time you throw a party, you know where to get a bag or four.

Best chips Tomato flavour Chips

One bag starts from Rs 20

Thakkhola Thakali Cuisine

Fill your belly with the best Thakali in area

Situated at the end of the cluster of up-market restaurants in Jhamsikhel, Thakkhola Thakali Cuisine (TTC) has carved a niche among scores of other eateries offering Chinese, Indian, and continental varieties. TTC skips the MSG-enhanced fare dished out by many and specialises in Nepali food of the Thakali kind. Both squat-down and table-chair seating options are available. Start with Alu Anda Timmur (eggs and potato fried in Szechwan pepper), sukuti fry with timmur ko chop (deep fried, dried mutton served with Szechwan pepper powder), and then move on to the choice dish: the rice set. Don’t forget to try a glass of chhyang, the fresh rice brew here is thicker than usual, a scent of cardamom and there a hint of cinnamon.

Best dish Dhido set

Meal for one Rs 400

Turn right from the fire brigade bus stop in Pulchok and head towards Dhobighat. Turn left at the second four-way crossroad and TTC is on the other side of the road.

Honacha

Aila and choyela go hand in hand

If you’ve ever set on a quest to find the best Newari food in town, you’ll have surely heard of Honacha. This Newari bhatti situated right behind the majestic edifice of Krishna Mandir in the heart of Patan Durbar Square has been serving the hungry and the thirsty for decades. The menu has remained the same and so has the setting. A full meal with cold drinks for four sets your wallet back by a mere Rs 500. If you want to breathe in the multiple flavours of the common men and women of the country, there is no better place than Honacha. But if you are one of the delicate ones, take home some baras, switch on your favourite channel, and enjoy them with apéritifs in the comfort of your home.

Best dish Keema Bara

Meal for one Rs 200

Honacha is located rigth behind Krishna Mandir at Patan Darbar Square.

Chikusa Café

A lot goes down at the back of the café

The former Japanese café, established in 1998, specialises in ‘real coffee’, breakfast items and pressed sandwiches—all made to order behind a narrow, diner-like bar straight out of an Edward Hopper painting. Bottles of American maple syrup and extra-large ‘Super Dad’ mugs that line the shelves yield a homespun charm. Every plate, prepared in plain sight, is just plain good. No green eggs and ham, the ham and eggs (as you like it) are a savory side that compliments any of the sweet, back-menu treats, including crepes, waffles and real flapjack pancakes topped with sliced bananas and syrup. The only drawback is that substitutes can’t be made for items in the fixed breakfast sets (Chikusa and English), and sides like baked beans and sausages can’t be ordered separately.

Best dish Banana pancakes

Meal for one 400

Jog south from the Moroccan Consulate in Thamel and look for “Real Coffee!” under the Lhasa Guesthouse.

Noyoz

Taste from the east

This tiny little joint in Bhatbhateni serves momos, aludum, meat and more meat, and they all taste like your mother’s home-cooked dishes. Originally from Dharan, Barsha Limbu, the proprietor and chef, learned cooking from her mother, grandmother, and her many aunts and she tries to emulate their style in her own kitchen by serving up nutritious, hearty, and wholesome meals with a special astern touch. Sargemba (Rs 150), the Limbu version of blood sausage is truly delicious so is their Dharane style pork momos (Rs 95). In a relatively short time, Noyoz has become extremely popular among nomadic writers, artists, and musicians from east Nepal and it has taken on the air of an ‘intellectual adda’. They congregate here to talk about all things Nepal while eating bona fide purveli meals, just like back home.

Best dish Aludum with roti (Rs 100)

Meal for one Rs 300

Noyoz is smack opposite the Chinese Embassy’s gate in Bhatbhateni. 

Sandwich Point

Skip small, opt for extra-large at this sandwich bar

Often the last-stop for hungry party-goers, Sandwich Point in Thamel is as busy during the day as it is post-midnight. The tiny sandwich bar offers a wide range of sandwiches including chicken bbq, tuna, ham and cheese, smoked salami, and even chocolate in three different sizes. A wallet friendly price and consistent taste has loyals fighting for space everyday of the week so beware. SP recently branched into Lalitpur with the opening of an outlet in Jhamsikhel.

Best dish: Chicken BBQ sandwich

Meal for one: Rs 135

From Himalayan Java, walk to the second intersection of Thamel, and turn left. 

Crazy Burger

Juicy, meaty, filling burgers

Crazy Burger is one of those places that offers pretty decent fare at affordable prices. We satisfied our burger cravings with the fish burger ( Rs185). Though sliced a little too thinly, the fried fish fillet packs a punch. Enveloping the fish is chewy and warm bread. Altogether, the burger feels like a healthy choice, and the portion is just enough to fill your tummy. Its other burgers sound equally promising, like its chicken tikka, big ham, and spicy chicken burger. If you’re in the mood for something adventurous, you can opt for the ostrich grilled burger (330 Rs). Besides fast-food, Crazy Food is also well-known for its western dishes like pastas, milkshakes and pizzas. 

Best dish: Fish Burger

Meal for one: Rs 200

From Kathmandu Guest House in Thamel, walk straight, when you reach a curve look on your right.

Almaya Fried House

18 minutes of wait equals to half an hour of deep fried pleasure

Move over KFC, Almaya Fried House is here to claim its rightful place as the choice fried chicken joint in Kathmandu. At Almaya’s fried chickens are served in kilos. A kg (Rs 760) is enough to feed a hungry group of three and served piping hot with a delectable tangy sauce. Besides this southern comfort, this hidden gem also offers more exotic Newari offerings like fried tongue, liver, and lungs. So dig into oily goodness.   Best dish Fried Spicy Chicken

1kg Chicken Spicy Rs 700

From the Gwarko Bus Stop at Ring Road, head north-west for about 300m. Almaya Fried House is located after the second junction. 

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