Nepali Times
Lobsters on land

That Nepal is a landlocked country is a truism taught to every school-going child. What the child is not taught is to conclude that therefore Nepal has no ships, no sailors, no whales and, alas, no lobsters.

Thankfully, the shortage of lobsters is now up for reconsideration. Three months ago, the eponymous restaurant opened at Kathmandu's coolest new address - the Sherpa Mall on Darbar Marg.

What one first notices upon entering Lobsters is that it is spacious. Spread over 8,000 square feet, and with more than 50 smartly dressed and eager-to-serve hotel management graduates as staff, Lobsters can seat up to 250 guests at any one time.

All that space, plus the two private rooms where one can also smoke the hookah, seems perfect for corporate heads or family patriarchs looking to a rent a restaurant for their Dasain-Tihar parties. The terrace, which overlooks the goings-on down the street, is usually filled with young professionals chilling out after work. And the outdoor patio is an ideal venue for barbecue gatherings.

Lobsters' indoor decor is soothing and contemporary yet eye-pleasingly understated. In fact, it could be anywhere in Sydney, London or New York. The menu is extensive, but seafood is the obvious draw.

Jumbo prawns, mussels, squid, oysters, crab, red snapper and lobsters go well with the wine and the cocktails available at the bar. Seafood is brought in from Singapore and Thailand, where it is packed and transported to Nepal in the most hygienic conditions. Right next to the open-display kitchen at Lobsters, there's a cold storage room where the seafood is kept fresh, and new supplies are brought in on a regular basis.

Despite its rapid popularity - the place was full both times we were there - Lobsters appears to have cultivated two myths in the short span of its existence.

First, that it serves only seafood. Not true. Yes, the restaurant's name gives it a distinctive identity in the sea of look-alike Kathmandu restaurants. But this reviewer, who visited the restaurant with two vegetarians, was pleasantly surprised that Thai, Chinese, Indian and Continental dishes could be ordered and enjoyed. In fact, the butter naan and vegetables were superb. The management told us that plans are afoot to serve Mexican food.

The second myth is that Lobsters is expensive. But that depends on what you eat. Sure, ordering the signature dish to be shared at your table can set you back by a little more than Rs 4,000, which seems steep even when you are told that's the 'cost price' of the lobster.

But you can have a filling lunch for just Rs 199. On Wednesday nights, the seafood buffet can be had for Rs 750. The price of a non-seafood platter with noodles, for instance, is comparable to that at any other top-flight Kathmandu restaurant, making Lobsters a delight for those who know what food and drinks to order.

The entrepreneurs behind Lobsters must be applauded for their determination to go through with an ambitious concept. They have succeeded with a multi-cuisine restaurant that offers a new dining experience for Nepalis - salt-water offerings in a fresh-water country.

For reservations call 4231323

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)