So it’s been a long time without a mo:mo post, but not because I haven’t been eating them. This is for all the vegetable lovers out there; it’s not a particularly attractive plate of mo:mos, which has been true pretty much every time I’ve eaten here. Don’t let that fool you, though, because they are delicious – I’d say they’re my favorite non-meat mo:mo in the city: the spinach-cheese mo:mos from Phat Khat, JP Road, Thamel. Well worth a visit.
Archive for the ‘Food’ Category
On Sunday, I woke up a bit under the weather. I really didn’t want to go anywhere, but stronger than that feeling was the desire for my favorite greasy, spicy, Boudha-style Chinese restaurant. Rain threatened– it has for much of the past two weeks–as my hunger overcame my laziness and I headed out. To find to the Yak Restaurant, you have to enter the Boudhanatha Stupa area from the main entrance, and walk exactly half-way around it before going down an alley. You’ll find it on your left, after souvenirs, piles of chilly peppers and hunks of butter. It doesn’t look like much, but with its strange hybrid of mostly-Chinese-with-a-little-Tibetan-food, it’s one of my favorite places to eat. I always tell myself that with the plethora of good places to eat in Boudha, I should try something new. Then I find myself driving along the muddy, pot-holed roads for the sole purpose of eating exactly here.
In an attempt to avoid those said muddy holes, particularly bad now as we are in monsoon season, I decided to take a detour along some back toads that I know indirectly link my area to the Boudha area. I was unsuccessful and after driving in circles ended up back on the main road not that far at all from where I’d left it. So I went to Boudha the usual way, but with some sort of flooded pipe or drain making the road far worse than usual – and that’s saying a lot, believe me – I determined I’d find the shortcut on my way back. Famous last words.
On reaching Boudha I did what I always do, no matter how often I come: took a photo or two of the stupa. It’s one of my favorites places in Kathmandu and I never tire of photographing it, even when the skies are grey as they were on Sunday. I bought a few lovely cloth bags from a local shop here that I like (not that I don’t have enough bags) and carried on down the alley to the Yak Restaurant. I ordered pretty much the same thing I always do: spicy cooking buff, which is a bowl of spicy delicious broth, thin sliced buff, potatoes, greens, noodles, two kinds of mushroom and more in the bowl besides, eggplant in chilli sauce, a steamed Tibetan bun, and a beer. I don’t think the picture does it justice, but it’s delicious. Too much food, of course, but I take the leftovers home and eat spicy soup for a couple of days after each visit.
While I was waiting for my food, the rain started. From my seat by the entrance I enjoyed the downpour while staying dry and taking pictures through the open door.
When the rain let up, I set off on my scooter once again, determined not to take the main road, which I knew would be even worse after the downpour. I like to think I have a pretty good sense of direction, but boy did it let me down in this instance. Which is actually a good thing, or I’d never had the experience that I did.
After driving down several fascinating streets I’d never seen before, I began reading the place names on shops and realized that I was going in the complete wrong direction. But I was enjoying myself, and didn’t feel like turning around, so I kept on to see what I would see. Before long, I was in the vicinity of Gokarna, far beyond Boudha, while still somehow having bypassed the main road. I ended up driving up a beautiful green hill, past rice paddies and prayer flags, into an area called Jagadole, which I’d never heard of and could find almost no information about when I researched it after getting home. Passing a small crew engaged in a film shoot, mothers and children, and people out enjoying their weekend, I came to an amazing viewing point, looking out from the hill all across the Kathmandu Valley: I could see the stupa of course, but also as far as the airport in the distance. Fluttering prayer flags made a picturesque scene even more so, as they are wont to do, and I felt grateful for my mixed-up sense of direction that took me, on this Sunday, to a place I’d never been to before.
There’s this lovely woman who sits outside the Shangri-La Hotel in Lazimpat most every afternoon, selling a fresh, random assortment of vegetables from her garden (I presume) and around this time of year she sells courgette flowers (aka squash blossoms). It’s the only place I’ve ever, ever found them available in Nepal. Ever. This year I was too lazy to fry them up in the Italian way, so into my soup they went. Lovely.
in gardening, Vegetables
Here’s what our little rooftop garden — a collection of pots, buckets and sacks — yielded day before yesterday. Green beans continue to be the most prolific crop of all we’ve attempted, though we’re getting better at tomatoes. The lone eighteen-day radish was delicious, and those green beans, simply boiled and doused in butter, were the highlight of our evening meal.
in booze, daily life, Food, Patan, Roads & Kingdoms
After my earlier piece on breakfast was published last year on the award-winning Roads and Kingdoms website, I’m super thrilled to have another one in their section 5 O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE: Drinking the World Every Afternoon. The article, which they’ve creatively titled Everybody Seems to be Eating Brains These Days (a huge improvement over my working title, I can tell you) can be found here.
In addition to being voted the Gold Winner for Best Travel Journalism Site by the Society of American Travel writers, they also had an unusually high number of James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards nominations this year. They’re an awesome website that I’m proud to be associated with, and if you haven’t checked them out, you really should. Their longform work is amazing, in-depth reporting, and the shorts are a lot of fun to read.
Anyone who knows me well has heard me tell of my love for chicken wings. Sadly, the places that served my favourite chicken wings have closed in the last few years, the buildings they were housed in victims of the earthquake or road enlargement work. So I’m looking for new favourites, and while doing research for an article I found myself in the picturesque courtyard of the DaLai-La hotel in Thamel having a single malt at their wonderfully named bar, Liquid Happiness. I sat and observed the goings on, interspersed with reading Rabi Thapa’s new book, Thamel: Dark Star of Kathmandu, also for an upcoming article. Liquid Happiness has a great bar snacks menu, and of course I went for the chicken wings with house sauce.
Are they my new favourites? No, but they’re pretty darn good. The only thing keeping me from making this place a habit is the price tag – in my case, it’s more special occasion than daily pit-stop. Still, highly recommended for great atmosphere, convivial staff, and excellent food and drink.
Most days since I became a regular here at ECS, I’ve either brought a sandwich or followed a group of coworkers to their favourite lunch spot, a local joint around the corner. However, not long ago a large rodent ran through there, inches from my feet. Fortunately I did not see it, but it has been enough to put me off returning there since. I’m well aware that many eateries in Nepal often play unwitting hosts to small creatures of all sorts, but what made this different was the fact that this place seemed to tolerant of or possibly even catering to the animal’s presence. And it was running from the direction of the kitchen, so…
This might seem a strange way to begin a post about delicious food, and yet. Feeling a little disloyal, the next time I wanted lunch I let the group go on without me and headed out on my own to a place across the street from our offices, where I’ve seen some of the staff eating before. It’s only marginally more upscale than the place favoured by most of my colleagues, but not by much. With chilly days still very much with us, I ordered one of my favourite winter dishes, a chicken thukpa. Thukpa is a thick soup of noodles and vegetables, served in a spicy broth, with or without your choice of meat or egg. It has its roots in Tibet, though the incarnations generally served nowadays in the valley’s small restaurants have evolved into a unique local variant.
Well, this version was delicious, and I was back again and again. A few days ago I opted for the slightly pricier ‘mixed’ thukpa, which has everything–veggies, eggs, and several kinds of meat. Heaven!
Yesterday–literally from one day to the next–warm, spring weather flooded the valley. Usually the change is more gradual, but this year the cold had lingered much later than usual, so the sudden change was all the more noticeable. Someone here at work said that the warm weather was triggered by the hailstorm we had a few days ago – everyone has a weather theory here!
All that to say, my thukpa eating days are pretty much over, unless we get another cold spell. So today, despite the heat, I ordered a last bowl of mixed thukpa anyway, the one you see here. It was delicious, another reminder, if I needed one, of why I love cold days best.
Whatever you’re eating as you read this, I hope it’s as tasty.
In early January I was offered the position of editor at ECS Nepal, the magazine I have contributed to for years as a freelance writer. It was a big surprise, but a good one. So far it’s been a crazy, hectic whirlwind of learning, hard work, and fun.
February’s magazine (above) is a special food issue, the first with my name on the masthead. It’s pretty funny it turned out that way, since food is the topic I’ve written about most for them over the years. The great group of people I work with did so much to make it happen on time in challenging circumstances and with a new editor taking over halfway through the process–I’m thrilled and honoured to be on the team.
These super-awesome incredibly delicious pork mo:mo are from New Dish, a little place tucked upstairs in Kichapokhari, New Road. It’s been open for 26 years but I’ve only just been there for the first time (and the second, and third–already). They have a small menu–amongst which pork mo:mo are the only mo:mo variety–but they are great. Thin-skinned and succulent, served with a simple hot chilli dipping sauce, and a bowl of broth. There used to be a place by my house that served broth with their mo:mos (basically it’s the steaming water, doctored up a little) but they closed and I’ve missed it. This place is already on my favourites list, and with chilly winter weather on the way, I know I will become a regular here.