Devoted to Promote tourism in Nepal
Lauded byLonely Planet and other such guide books as the tourist, shopping and dining centreof Kathmandu, Thamel can be a misleading place to experience genuine Nepali cuisine. When notbeing goaded by swathes of entrepreneurs trying to sell you instruments, Tiger Balm, Thangka artwork, jewellery, suspiciously ‘genuine’ Cashmere and Yak wool, the area boats some of the city’s finest restaurants. However, a vast majority of the options that are available to travellers adhere stringently to a westernised pallet; bakeries, Italian cafes, Irish pubs and bars which host frequent karaoke nights thrive in the area which houses the historical city’s tourist population – the only consistency which does hold wisps of genuine Nepali culture is the sale of Momo which can be found everywhere. Located in amongst the winding streets and back alleys of Thamel, which so often exacerbate this faux image of the Nepali way of life, sits the MukitinathThakali Kitchen – an oasis of genuine Nepali cuisine in amongst theburger joints and restaurants with names like Bon Appetite. What gives the restaurant its authenticity is its historical founding in the Thakali culture; a rung in the caste system of Nepal who originate from the ThakKhola region of the Mustang District in the Dhaulagiri zone of the country.
Traditionally Thakali people are traders and businessmen, but have a fierce reputation for their culinary skills – said to offer the best food and accommodation before the rapid increase of facilities that cater to western trekkers and travellers. Entering the Thakali Kitchen there is an immediate sense of locality. From the humble decoration on the outside, to the welcoming Nepali locals on entrance and the smell of Masala in the air, everything down to the tin tableware exudes an authenticity that is hard-pressed to find within the multi-culturalism of Thamel. The dining area is located in an open air stone gravel courtyard, decorated in traditional Nepali red and white, to the back of the restaurant aside canopies of trees with cactuses circling its perimeter.Whilst we sit and eat a smorgasbord of different people enter to eat; locals and regulars meeting for a communal drink, lone food buffs trying out their favourite dishes and tourists who have likely stumbled upon the place whilst meandering through the streets of Thamel.
The atmosphere is friendly, service is quick and your dining experience is accompanied by pastel European trance (the only quality which tangents from the homely and local atmosphere, but is, nevertheless, a relaxing aspect.) The Mukitinathmenu is staunchly Nepali, with a selection of set meals, snacks and individual dishes. You can choose from fish, chicken and mutton dishes alongside a wide variety of vegetarian choices which include mushroom and potato curries, as well as omelettes, Thukpa and fried rice. For a typical experience, however, it is imperative to try the Dal Bhat – the Nepali staple. Made up of rice, spiced lentil soup, curried vegetables, spinach, Gundruk – a national dish made of dried vegetables –two types of spicy pickle; radish and tomato, and yogurt for desert, Dal Bhat is impossible to out manoeuvre on a trip to Nepal. Even if you have been privy to it already, the Thakali Kitchen’s is outstanding. Much of the dish, and many of the other dishes on the menu, are cooked in Ghee and using curry powder, Masala and Cumin and when your plate is empty staff surround you to refill it with whatever you want.
For people looking for a break from the anonymous swathes of European restaurants, cafes and bakeries which haunt the streets of Thamel in search of something more authentic, the MukitinathThakali Kitchen is perfect. It provides great food, a friendly atmosphere and genuine Nepali cuisine which could as easily be found in one of the surround valley villages as it is in the centre of the city. Prices are affordable, floating somewhere between 400-500 Rupees for set meals, and the food is delicious with a large wine and beer list for drinks afterwards.
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