Restaurants & Food around Nepal
Nepal – and specifically in Kathmandu, a vast range of dishes can be found with cuisines from almost every country in the world. A mind-boggling range of flavors can be discovered just in Dal Bhat, the national staple dish of rice, lentils, lightly curried vegetables, and pickles. Though it can also sometimes be disappointingly bland depending on where you have it.
In the Kathmandu Valley, the indigenous Newars have their unique cuisine of spicy meat and vegetable dishes, while a vast range of Indian curries, bread, snacks, and sweets comes into play in the Terai. In the high mountains, the traditional diet consists of noodle soups, potatoes, and toasted flour. “Chow-chow” packet noodles, cooked up as a spicy soup snack, are everywhere. Vegetarians will feel at home in Nepal since meat is considered a luxury. Tourist menus invariably include veggie items.
Local Nepali diners (Bhojanalayas or, confusingly enough, “hotels”) are traditionally humble affairs, offering a limited choice of dishes or just DalBhat. Menus don’t exist, but the food will normally be on display or cooked in full view with delightful aromas tickling the nostrils. So all you have to do is just point your fingers at what you want to try.
Teahouses (chiyapasals) only sell tea and basic snacks, while the simple taverns (bhatti) of the Kathmandu Valley and the western hills put more emphasis on alcoholic drinks and meaty snacks, but may serve Nepali meals too. Trailside, both chiyapasal and bhattis are typically modest operations run out of family kitchens where mom handles the meat curries and dad takes care of everything else.
The kids also lend a helping hand if it’s a holiday from school or even after school hours. Sweet shops (mithai pasal or misthan bhandar) are intended to fill the gap between the traditional mid-morning and early evening meals. Besides sweets and tea, they also do South Indian and Nepali savory snacks. Street vendors sell fruit, nuts, roasted corn, and various fried specialties. As often as not, food will come to you when you’re traveling – at every bus stop, vendors will clamber aboard or hawk their wares through the window. It's cheap when compared to dollars. Some tourists even swear they don’t get services like this at home.
Momo, arguably the most famous and popular of Tibetan dishes are available throughout every nook and cranny of the country. Similar to dim sum, the half-moon-shapes are filled with meat, vegetables, and ginger, steamed and served with hot tomato salsa and a bowl of broth. Fried momo is called kothe.
Shyaphagle, made from the same ingredients, are Tibetan-style pastries. Tibetan cuisine is also full of hearty soup called ‘thukpa’ or thenthuk, consisting of noodles, meat, and vegetables in soup broth. For a group feast, try the huge gyakok (chicken, pork, prawns, fish, tofu, eggs, and vegetables), which gets its name from the brass container it’s served in. In trekking lodges, you’ll encounter pitta-like Tibetan or “Gurung” bread.
The average peasant seldom eats any of the above. Potatoes are common in the high country, and are usually eaten boiled in their skins with a dab of salt and chili paste – are justly famous for their nutty sweetness. Tsampa (roasted barley flour) is another staple, and often, especially for trekkers, mixed with milk or tea to make a porridge paste. Most trekkers tend to love this healthy treat to battle the hikes at high altitude.
Common food on the road includes pakora (vegetables dipped in chickpea flour batter, deep-fried), and bean curry served with ‘puris or roti’ (round wheat bread fried in oil or eaten dry with curry). Another possibility is Dahi chiura, a mixture of yogurt and beaten rice. If you’re in a hurry, you can grab a handful of samosas (curried potatoes veggies in fried pastry triangles), bara (fried lentil patties), or other tidbits on a leaf plate.
In the hilly towns and around Kathmandu, huge aluminum steamers placed by the restaurant door advertise the ubiquitous momo.
If nothing else, there will always be that packet of noodles (“chow-chow”) with a delicious mix of veggies and eggs.
Nepal has categories of different accommodation facilities that range from international standard star hotels to budget hotels and lodges. To ensure quality service, it is advisable to use the facilities and services of Government registered hotels, lodges, and homestays. Most hotels offer a choice: bed and breakfast; bed, breakfast and one other meal; or rooms with full board. During spring and fall, hotels work at near full capacity and are booked well in advance. Therefore, it would be a good idea to check well in advance and book hotels as per your needs if traveling to Nepal in the peak season.
Moderate accommodation facilities are also available in some parts of Kathmandu like Thamel. In such cases, room rates may not include toilets and showers, unless otherwise indicated. Toilets and showers in such cases are generally communal and heating may require additional charges. Such small hostelries are preferred by budget tourists and FITs.
Accommodation facilities are available in the mountain tourist areas, too. While trekking to some areas tenting may be the only alternative if resident villages are scanty and a long way off trekking routes. However, most trekking routes have lodges or tea houses to accommodate tourists. To be on the safer side, we recommend that tourists look upon such information before embarking on their journey. For accommodation in rural areas, please contact the local homestay authorities or your travel agent.