A graphic window illustration of Buddha’s eyes, that enduring symbol of Nepal, has been drawing diners into this cosy Nepalese restaurant since 1997. The first of its kind in Ireland, owner Shiva Gautum set the bar high and standards continue to this day.
Tucked in a narrow street off Dame Street, the Temple Bar stalwart’s staff all hail from Nepal and the cooking showcases the best of this mountainous country’s fragrant cuisine. Carved wooden pillars, deep red walls, and colourful light fittings create a suitable ethnic vibe and the tables, though close together, are dressed formally in white linen tablecloths.
Service is friendly and well intentioned and staff are helpful in explaining dishes. To get the most from this unique cuisine, it’s best to choose a mix of vegetarian and meat dishes.
Complimentary poppadoms with exquisite dips are served immediately and alert you to the talent in the kitchen. Starters include a great choice including byanta ko bharta a spiced barbecued aubergine paste with excellent naan or, if they’re available, the nation’s celebrated dumpling, the momo, served with a complex and delicious dipping sauce.
The vast menu is frequently tweaked, with new dishes regularly introduced alongside house favourites to keep things fresh and interesting. Flavour packed curries and tandoori dishes feature quality Irish lamb and there’s great variety for vegetarians. The wine list is well chosen to suit the spicy food and has grown to include over 180 wines.
Dishes are deceptively filling here, especially when accompanied by fluffy rice and the excellent breads, but, if at all possible, leave room for a decent coffee and slice of gajar ko haluwa, a deliciously sticky carrot pudding with notes of cinnamon and cardamom.