Make me a Pita Sandwich: A taste of Cibo

Features Issue 71 Jul, 2010
Text by Looza Mahaju

If you are as much of a sandwich lover as me and have searched the entire cityscape for a good sandwich without much success, then you haven’t been to the right places. You definitely haven’t been to Cibo Sandwich Bar. Yes, a ‘Sandwich Bar’.

Located in Lazimpat, on the lap of Hotel Ambassador and a stone’s throw from the British Embassy, Cibo is definitely ‘the’ place to be for a lunch of deliciously crafted sandwiches which you can wash down with smooth cappuccinos. “We had the idea of starting a sandwich bar since a long time ago and finally opened it to the public in March 2006,” says Sagun Pradhan, the owner of the bar. As for the name of the chic eatery, it was purely accidental. While leafing through a fashion magazine, Pradhan came upon a name that caught his attention: Cibo had a nice ring to it. That name stayed on his mind and when the time came to name the bar they were opening, it was the obvious choice. “It was appropriate because it relates to food in Italian,” says Pradhan. After months of hard work, Cibo was finally ‘officially opened’ in September 2006.

Cibo Sandwich Bar, as the name suggests, specializes in sandwiches, but not the usual “what-you-can-find-in-between-the-breads” kind, but in the exotic pita bread sandwiches. Pita is brown double layered flat or pocket bread that is generally associated with the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Its use is prevalent through the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula to India and Afghanistan, coinciding with the spread of the Hellenistic world. While the bread itself is taken as an accompanying dish in the cuisines it originated from; in Cibo it is served as a whole meal in itself. The pita sandwiches at Cibo are served with salad and chips and each bite is delicious.

Keshar Lama, who oversees the kitchen, excellently prepares every order and with years of experience behind the kitchen counter, makes sure that it is made to perfection. With the open kitchen, guests are able to see what goes into their order. “The idea behind the open kitchen counter is to allow guests to see how the food is prepared and to get a hint of the rich aroma even before it is served,” says Pradhan, while Keshar Lama busies himself with our order. And it’s one idea that works every time; even before the order is served, its rich aroma and the wonderful fragrance of fresh local ingredients fill the air and you can hardly wait for it to arrive on your table.

And if you want something to wash down your sandwich with, there’s the finest homegrown coffee. “We serve Himalaya Arabica coffee, one of the excellent Nepali coffees found in the market,” says Gopal Paudel, who supervises the services. And if sandwiches aren’t enough, which is hardly the case given their generous proportions, Cibo also serves excellent pastas. Keeping up with the times and the season, they plan to change their menu accordingly.

“To add variety to our menu and offer different tastes to our customers who are mostly expatriates and Nepali, we introduced pasta as the other choice for a main course,” says Pradhan, adding, “What we serve bears our hallmark of insistence on quality. We use all local organic ingredients and highly nutritious flour to make pita bread.”            

 “The sandwich we serve,” says Pradhan, “Is a complete meal experience in itself. It’s not only a whole meal, but a healthy choice too.” If you are in the mood for a quick sandwich to serve as a light meal, you know where to go.