In a small alleyway, a stone’s throw from the Patan Kumari house lies a hole-in-the-wall eatery that serves up gratifying Newari grub.
The eatery does not have a proper name but locals affectionately call it ‘bhauju ko ghar’ or bhauju’s house. The ‘bhauju’ running the place is Rita Maharjan, a petite housewife who whisks around the cramped eatery with ease, serving up plates of delicious aanda chiura (egg with beaten rice).
Aanda chiura (Rs 65) is by far the most popular dish the eatery serves. Locals gulp down this simple dish by the plates and after my first try I think I understand why: the beaten rice, fried with egg is crispy, salty and loaded with spices. It was the perfect comfort food.
Fried with onions and served piping hot, it is difficult to stop digging into a plate of aanda chiura. A word of caution though -- the dish might sound more like a snack, but it is surprisingly filling.
In addition, the dish goes extremely well with a glass of chyang (rice wine). The ‘bhauju’ house serves homemade chyang for only Rs 10 a glass. Customers who come in a group can order a jug at Rs 65.
The aanda chiura and chyang pairing is a sure-fire combination that will make the trip to the dimly lit eatery worthwhile.
If you are in for a filling meal, order the Buff Chilli (Rs 85). The slices of buff meat fried together with dried chilli can be a little chewy, but crispy at the same time. The hint of heat makes the dish even more appetising.
Adventurous diners can try the raw buffalo meat (Rs 80) instead. The raw buffalo meat is mixed together with coriander, and comes with a squeeze of lime juice, giving it a refreshing taste.
Vegetarians can opt for the aloo tama (Rs 25), a potato and bamboo shoot dish served in a hot and sour broth. This dish also provides a nice contrast from the dry and salty dishes like aanda chiura and buff chilli.
Using simple ingredients, and serving up no more than four types of dishes, have kept the ‘bhauju’ eatery running for more than 19 years. In that period, the eatery has garnered its own legion of regulars and has also gained popularity with locals in the area.
The reputation of the eatery might have grown, but its physical space has -- amusingly -- shrunk. “We used to be a big eatery but we started leasing out part of the stall’s space to workshops,” said Maharjan.
Right now, the eatery can barely fit 30 people and according to locals, if you arrive after 6.30pm, chances are that it will be hard to find a seat.
But perhaps it is the charm of a small, back alley eatery that attracts loyal customers. It is unpretentious, cheap and serves up sinful but delicious foods.
Unlike Honacha, which is over-hyped, the ‘bhauju’ house is a hole-in-the-wall eatery that might possibly be Patan’s best-kept foodie secret.
How to get there: Bhauju house is a small eatery on the left of the alley beside Kumari Party Palace in Gabahal.
Photos: Kenji Kwok