I had been waiting with bated breath for Indian restaurant chain, Hyderabad House, to open right next doors in Tangal. An ardent lover of biryani, just the signboard announcing ‘opening soon’ had been tantalising me for months. Adding to my anticipation was the fact that this restaurant chain has been around since 1975 and has franchises around the world, and now finally was opening an outlet in Kathmandu. I walked in with high expectations, only to have the old adage proved true - expect in haste only to repent in leisure (or words to that effect).
Though the entrance is unobtrusive, the owners have tried to imbue the restaurant with some old-world charm by hanging pictures of the Nizams of faded sepia prints of Hyderabad, in its days of yore, on the walls of the staircase leading to the main dining area. But the décor is mostly nondescript and comes right out the cookie- cutter mould of most Indian restaurants, along with the de rigueur maroon upholstered chairs.
The menu is impressive to say the least with offerings of goshts and luqmis and haleems; melt-in-the-mouth delicacies that promise a legacy of delicious meat marinated in exotic spices and slow cooked over a hot tandoor. And that in a nutshell is the problem with romanticism; for reality always pales in comparison.
The chicken 65 (Rs 373) that the waiter assured us was their specialty starter was nothing more than chicken chili with curry leaves a strange amalgamation of two divergent cuisines that didn’t really gel well. While the meat on its own without the dousing of masala would have been passable, the combination just makes for a strange combination. The mutton sheek kebab (Rs 592) didn’t fare much better being dry and just generally lackluster.
The description on the menu sold us on the gosht dumphukh biryani (Rs 686), is described as a traditional biryani with choice tender pieces of mutton with basmati rice and a ‘potpourri of traditional Hyderabadi spices’. What was served to us was cold and oily and not particularly tasty. The accompanying raita and the mirchi ka salan were tastier than what for this restaurant is its signature dish.
The saving grace of our meal was the roomali roti (Rs 51 per piece) and the talahua paneer, (Rs210) a good old paneer curry. We ended our meal with the double ka meetha (Rs 160) - a sticky sweet bread pudding with what tasted like gajar ka halwa. After the meal that we’d had, the dessert was more than we were expecting. Or maybe we had just decided to be extremely forgiving by this point.
When new restaurants, offering a specific cuisine not available at every other place in Kathmandu, open up, my initial reaction is glee, only to be let down on sampling their fares. And that is the problem with Hyderabad House. It’s a crying shame, for Kathmandu needs a really good Indian restaurant that is not ensconced in a five star hotel.
How to get there: Hyderabad House is opposite Bhatbhateni Supermarket in Tangal, in the same building as Anmol Sweets.