It’s no longer news that Nepal’s eating scene has changed, and drastically so. There are new restaurants everywhere, so many that it’s now become impossible to eat at all of them, or even keep up with what they’re all about.
However, even with all this culinary change and innovation, there are some old institutions that not only refuse to die, but which are still going strong despite all the upstarts, and both gaining new patrons, and delighting the older ones.
A few months ago, I arranged to meet Nepali friends who now live in the UK and were here on a visit. Where did they want to meet? KC’s, they said. KC’s? Is that place even still open? I thought. In fact, it was, and we enjoyed a reunion of old friends at this place that predated even our friendship. And of course it’s not the only one—just across the street is the Pumpernickel Bakery, which despite its shiny new incarnation has its roots long, long ago, when bakeries in Thamel were few and far between. The Rum Doodle has changed locations several times, and can now be found opposite the Naxal petrol pump, where it still serves delicious food, and proudly displays its many amazing collected signatures of Everest summiteers. I’m pretty sure that by now the number they have constitutes a world record!
Fire & Ice, still in Thamel, continues to produce the city’s best pizza, and the Yak Restaurant, which happily looks much as it always has, serves wonderful, authentic and affordable Tibetan food. The Yin Yang and Third Eye, which have both been around in this city for longer than I have, delight customers new and old with curries painstakingly prepared, just as they have for decades. I love new menus and fresh flavors, but it’s nice to know that there are places to go where you can get consistency and the taste you remember.
Mike’s Breakfast is another place that has been open since, well, just about forever. Currently occupying a large, beautiful garden space in Baluwatar, I’m always delighted to find familiar dishes and faces, with waiters I remember from many years ago still welcoming me with a smile and a full coffee pot.
And who can forget Snowman’s Café, the little place off Freak Street with its collection of tasty cakes, pies, and who knows what else? Is it still there, I wanted to know? Why yes, yes it is.
So sure, do go and check out that newly opened restaurant, but also make sure not to forget about the tastes from your past that you so loved and enjoyed. It’s amazing how a familiar food and location can bring back memories of those happy times once again.