Restaurant review: Lucinda O'Sullivan at Kathmandu, Co Dublin
You can usually ignore a warning that a dish is not for the faint-hearted, says Lucinda O'Sullivan, but not at Kathmandu, a new Nepalese restaurant in the Dublin suburbs where the heat really hits the heights
The two people on the floor of the new Kathmandu restaurant in Dalkey were certainly kept busy all evening going back and forth carrying jugs of iced water to diners, including ourselves, who had been brave enough to order the dish with the very hot sauce.
I don't say this as a criticism because in far too many places the 'hot hot -- not for the faint-hearted' dish is dumbed down for European palates. Believe me, as the tears streamed down my face, the hot food at Kathmandu lives up to its name.
This restaurant has had a number of lives over the years, mainly Chinese. Now the decor is subdued, with a nice, textured wallpaper, and all of the tables laid with brown, striped, Japanese-style table runners.
The whole feel of the food and pleasant service here is of a simple, authentic Nepalese restaurant, rather than the usual hip-hop, all-bells-and-whistles places, and if you enjoy robust Asian food in honest surroundings, you will enjoy it. The chap in charge told us that he had previously worked in a Nepalese restaurant in Westport and had also worked in Kilkenny.
Kathmandu has also been attracting the interest of the local celebs including Pat Kenny and actor Nick Dunning, who have been smiling out from the Kathmandu Facebook page looking as if they really enjoyed themselves.
To our European tastes, Nepalese food is similar to Indian, particularly North Indian food, but at the same time it is slightly different.
You might recognise similar-sounding dishes on the menu but the flavours may be be stronger -- perhaps they need the heat in the colder climes of Nepal.
Starters were very reasonably priced (€4.50/€6.50) and included kukhura pokora, chicken battered in gram flour and deep fried, while tandoor jhinga, familiar from Indian restaurants, is jumbo prawn marinated in spices and cooked in a tandoor. Chhoyela is mashed cooked lamb mixed with onion, coriander seed, garlic and Himalayan herbs, and served cold. We ordered a selection of Nepalese specialities, the most famous traditional dish of which was momos (€6.50).
Momos are a Nepalese dumpling, equivalent to Chinese dim sum. They proved five delicious, tasty, comfort-food indulgences, filled with minced lamb mixed with onion, coriander, ginger and garlic paste, centred around a tomato-coloured momo dipping sauce. Jhinga aanp puri (€5.95) were prawns fried in medium-strength spices with a mango flavour. They were served in puri -- a sort of light and fluffy flatbread that looked like a cross between an omelette and a pancake and it, too, was lovely, as was a big, well-spiced tandoor jhinga jumbo prawn (€6.50).
The range of main courses is extensive, and it takes a little while to sort it out, but all are clearly marked mild, medium hot and very hot -- and I am always lured by any sign of danger.
Chicken, lamb and duck come in a myriad of ways including tandoori and biriyani dishes. lamb pokhareli (€16.95) -- described as very hot -- was VERY HOT HOT HOT. The lamb was good and tender but the hot chilli tastes left my palate so pleasurably numb that I could barely taste Sir's tamer jhinga pathiya (€17.95) dish of prawns cooked in an interesting curry-type, sweet-and-sour sauce.
With theses dishes we had one pilau rice (€3) and a garlic naan (€3.50).
They were out of some red wines, so we ended up drinking a very nice bottle of Chateau Manoir du Gravoux, Cotes de Castillon, 2006 (€29). We passed on desserts, and our bill with optional service came to €98.35.
Great food for our expected cold, cold winter -- get out the boots and climb up to Dalkey!
24-25 Castle Street,
Tel: (01) 275-0300
Sunday Indo Life Magazine