NT staffers pick their favourites. There's a suspicious abundance of daal-bhaat and Japanese restaurants, which leads one to believe reports are filed on rice paper.
A Thamel place with a difference-there's no dianChineseContinentalNepaliSetMeal menu. They do fries. These are the best fries in the Valley, perhaps even the country. The small, medium and large servings of double-fried chips come in paper cones with a choice of dips in little leaf platters. BK's does mayo, ketchup, hot ketchup, tartar, cocktail, devil, pinda, pataje oorlog and the mysteriously named "special", which contains mayo, onion and hot ketchup. This friendly place is an open-on-two-sides storefront with four barstools off which it is easy to slide when engorged on fries. Near the Bamboo Club and Hotel Vaishali.
Thakali Bhaancha, opposite BK's Fries, has that classic sign of good, down-home food-it is packed with customers, all eating the same thing. The specialty here is daal, bhaat and tarkari, Thakali style. It is ideal if you are a "bhatte", a rice lover, but you can also make a pig of yourself over more hardcore Thakali food like ghyanto (spinach gravy), dhung (thakali sausage), dhedo (corn or millet pudding), and phapaar ko rotis. Chhang is also available.
A small Thamel place for Japanese budget tourists-30 covers in a pinch-that encourages you to look beyond tuna rolls and norimaki. There are delicious breakfasts like tempura, egg, or onion chicken over rice, accompanied by a tiny, incredibly fresh salad and miso soup. Lunch and dinner are pitch perfect renditions of the usual suspects-sukiyaki, teriyaki, cutlets and udon. The set meals include potato and tofu, ginger chicken, mackerel and a stunning light fried whole fish with a faint zing of wasabi. All come with a generous bowl of rice, miso soup, a ginger dressed shredded cabbage salad, the breakfast salad, and a large herby cube of extremely creamy tofu. Good complimentary mukicha (barley tea) too.
Tamura at Hotel Kido
Finding Tamura on Thapathali Hill can be tricky, but once you're there, it's great. The almost exclusively Japanese clientele, wood panelled d?cor, bilingual waiters and piping hot hand-towels upon arrival make for a chilled out spot. The comprehensive sushi box with California rolls, or a huge slurpy bowl of udon or soba noodles with very fresh green veggies and/or prawn tempura is perfect for a light lunch. Chicken with ginger, pork with garlic, and fillet with onions are served sizzler-style with all the trimmings: rice, miso soup and a Japanese salad that's a meal in itself. Undoubtedly, the best green tea in town. Probably the best Japanese food north of Lumbini.
If you're a momo buff who doesn't have hang-ups about pork, go to Upstairs. This cosy outfit opposite the Bluebird on Lazimpat has the best pork momos in town. There are also excellent vegetarian, veggie cheese and buff momos on offer. And great aloo dum. The spicy potatoes are cooked Darjeeling style-not too much masala, but plenty of chilli. The perfect accompaniments to such delectations are on hand: chilled beer and good jazz (live Saturday evenings). After the momos and potatoes, try the fried pork and juicy French fries.
Didi ko Bhaancha Ghar
In Thamel, if you want daal bhaat, Nepali Standard style, go down the alleyway leading to Hotel Sagarmatha until you come to a small building that looks like it should be in a paddy field. This is where Thamel shopkeepers, guides and Chinese balm sellers wolf down achaar, seasonal tarkari, jhane ko daal-brown lentils with ghee and jimbu-salad and chicken or mutton. It is the closest you will get to eating at home on a workday. And it almost is-Maya "didi" has been in Thamel for about two decades and runs a family operation.