Kathmandu’s tryst with the international community goes back for decades on end. One of the most exciting outcomes of this interface has been the plethora of culinary adventures one can enjoy in the national capital’s historic markets and luxury resorts.
Did you know that Nepal has a very old connection with the Swiss…that’s got nothing to do with mountain climbing? And why would the Swiss and the Nepali yak have something in common?
Back in the 50s Swiss dairy specialist Werner Schulthess arrived in Neap. Being tasked by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization to find a profitable solution to the excess milk produced in remote mountain regions. ‘The Milkman’ as he came to be called by the expat community, spent years in the Kathmandu Valley, and later in the highlands where yak milk was available in plenty. But because the milk would spoil in the transportation, this bright spark came up with the idea of doing that in the form of cheese!
And he did that by setting up operations, to manufacture alpine-type hard cheese, in the Langtang Valley, which is a seven-day trek from Kathmandu. The rest is history. The supply of a variety of cheese made from yak milk has been trending in Kathmandu for years as the demand just continued to grow amongst the locals from those early days. In response, a string of dairies and cheese manufacturing setups sprang up in remote villages in Nepal’s rural expanses. Today, entrepreneurs are sourcing French-inspired yak cheese and robust Italian blue cheeses from across the Valley.
Himalayan French Cheese
One of the most popular places to indulge your cheese craving is Himalayan French Cheese! Its cheeses are inspired by French classics. The artisanal cheeses, including Tomme, Feta, and Blue, are all made from the milk of yaks that roam freely in the Himalayas. Check out their outlets at Thamel, Jhamsikhel and Baluwatar. Sample their fare at Le Sherpa at the Farmers Market and at Labim Bazaar and Emilio’s Pizza for their pizzas, fondues et al. The Cheese platter and mixed platter from Himalayan French Cheese is also available at Pauline’s Rooftop The man behind Himalayan French Cheese, French cheesemaker Francois Driard has put Nepal on the world cheese map, with the Super Gold prize for its Yak Blue, at the fourth Mondial du Fromage et des Produits Laitiers, held in France.
Le Sherpa, Farmer’s Market
Do find your way to the Farmer’s Market, Le Sherpa, Maharajgunj, which Driard helped set up, to indulge yourself with its fantastic range of locally produced European cheeses, artisanal bread, and pastries, organic honey, home-made chutneys and jams, artisanal meat and delicacies— and unique handcrafted goods. The market is held on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Through the week you the foodie hub that is Le Sherpa offers international cuisine but distinctly leans towards European dishes, mainly French.
In the courtyard at the historic Baber Mahal Revisited complex find your way to Chez Caroline renowned for its excellent French cuisine. Its seasonal offerings always create a huge buzz amongst discerning gourmands. An unmissable treat is the Wild Mushroom Pie Teamed with Rockford Salad Draped in A Walnut Sauce. Other good options — Lasagnes Au Poulet, Steak Au Poivre and Crème Brulée.
Located at Mandala Street, near Thamel Chowk, the restaurant invites you to sit down cross-legged on plump cushions for a leisurely repast of veggie offerings from around the Mediterranean. Owned by an Israeli, the restaurant has created a special niche for itself amongst the travelling community. The Turkish combo platter has many takers. OR2K’s also got a branch at Lakeside in Pokhara.
Also known as also known as PHO99, its very atmospheric with its South East Asian décor and laid-back vibes. The scent of lemongrass, and hint of mint and coriander will transport you from Lazimpat, where it’s located in Kathmandu, to the bustling markets of the Southeast Asian countries. Indulge your tastebuds with excellent options from the menu which features Vietnamese and many Asian staples. Ask for the Spicy Boneless Duck Breast with Ginger, Spicy Lemongrass Shrimps, Pork Chop Served with Steam Japanese Rice or the Seafood Platters with four different kinds of seafood, cooked in four different ways.
Hokkaido Ramen House
Savour some of the most authentic dishes at Kathmandu’s highly popular Japanese restaurant located in the premises of the Park Village Resort at Budhanilkantha. Grab your glass of sake to wash down the yummy portions of Sushi Moriawase, Prawn Tempura, Yakitori and more.
The Noodles Bar
Located at Basuki Marg, Mid-Baneshwar, this bustling outfit, launched by Burma-born home chef Geeta Khadka, offers delicious and authentic Burmese fare. Laphet Tau, a unique tea leaf salad, Khau Suey Tau and the Thopu Tau, Shan Thopu Nuey and Burma’s national dish, Mohinga - a rice noodle and fish soup, reign supreme over the indulgent menu.
There’s no dearth of international favourites available in Kathmandu’s culinary landscape. Every visit is an adventure discovering new treasures to indulge your tastebuds. Go eat the world in this Himalayan abode and write home and tell them all about it…