Entering the Dwarika’s Hotel in Kathmandu is like entering your most beautiful dream: The traditional Nepali architecture surrounds the Krishnarpan restaurant, situated in a huge exotic and peaceful courtyard. The soft lights illuminate the majestic garden with many fragrant trees and flowers, while the red bricks of the imperial buildings all around the courtyard create a scenic atmosphere.
“It’s all about the experience”, smiles Sonam, the young sales manager of the restaurant that welcomed us in the heartiest way. And what an experience, guys! Not only did we have one of the best dinners in our lives, but we were a part of something that goes beyond the food. Keep reading and find out what’s so special about that night.
The history of the Krishnarpan Restaurant
The Krishnarpan is one of the three restaurants of the Dwarika’s Hotel. From the waitresses’ dresses to the choice of cutlery, the smallest details have been chosen with great care. “We want to represent the diversity of Nepal in our restaurant. For example, the dresses of our waitresses represent the different traditional costumes of the many Nepali ethnic groups”, Sonam explained to us. “We wanted to create a culinary trip for our guests, so they don’t need to travel all around Nepal to taste all the dishes of our country”.
So the food is obviously important, but there is much more. The music in the background is traditional Nepalese, the furniture is elegant, and most important everyone is always smiling and happy to take care of you. In the Nepalese culture, there is a proverb: “Treat your guest as a God”. That’s how we felt while having a dinner at the Krishnarpan restaurant! Before jumping into the description of the dishes, there are two more things to know:
1 – Before entering the dining room, the kind staff will ask you to take off your shoes. The chairs are low, basically at the floor level, for a specific reason. It’s half way between sitting on the floor, as per the Nepalese tradition, and sitting on a normal chair like us westerners do. Fair enough!
2 – You can eat with the cutlery or with your hands, preferably the right one. This is the Nepalese tradition and an important part of the food culture, and if you want to have a more authentic experience, you should try to use your hands. We did eat with our hands and we don’t regret it at all! It’s fun and the food tastes different. Without the contact with the cold steel of the spoon or the fork, it’s another thing.
What’s on the menu?
The Krishnarpan restaurant offers different choices to the lucky guests: The chef created exclusive menus of 6 to 22 courses, everything with organic products from the Dwarika’s own farms. If the season is not right to grow a particular product, they buy it from trusted suppliers, and it’s again organic. So the food is not just too tasty to be true, but it’s also healthy.
We had the 6 courses menu and it was more than enough to satisfy our always hungry stomachs. The perfumes and fragrances of the dishes are sometimes surprising, and always delicious. Sweet notes are balanced by spicy bites, and the use of spices is perfectly mastered. Now stop talking and let’s eat: So, what did we have that was so good?
1- Samaya Bajee
Assortments of “Hors D’Oeuvres” served during religious ceremonies.
The entree is a mix of beaten rice, spiced buffalo meat, lentils pancake, two kinds of beans, fried potato and hard boiled egg. First of all, take a little bit of everything and place it on a tiny plate shaped as a leaf in front of you. It is an offer to Krishna (the Hindu God of love and compassion). The way of eating this dish is simple: Mix a bit of everything with the crunchy beaten rice and eat it. We especially loved the buffalo meat, freshly spiced and super soft. The crunchy notes of the beaten rice make the dishes always interesting and never boring.
2 – Mixed dish
Chyau Ko Sekuwa (roasted mushrooms), Puri (deep-fried soft fine flour bread) and Setup Similar Ko Tarkari (white beans curry)
The second dish is actually a mix of three elements. They are all served warm, and they have a delicate taste. The technique here is to take a piece of the fried bread and wrap either the mushrooms or the beans, before eating it. Again, we noticed the delicate taste of the food: The mushrooms were creamy and absolutely delicious, balanced between sweet and pepperish. And the fried bread is always hearty!
3 – Buffalo momo
If we had to choose our favourite dish served at this divine banquet, it would be these stunning momos. Definitely the best ones in Nepal! Momo is the name of the typical Nepalese and Tibetan dumplings: They can be filled with vegetables, cheese or meat, then steamed or deep fried. The Krishnarpan momo were filled with spiced buffalo meat, and accompanied by a sweet, sour and slightly spicy sauce. There are no words to describe how good they were! The pastry was smooth and the meat tender, with a well balanced mix of spices. Something to die for!
4 – Tarkari Ko Jhol
This soup came as unexpected as appreciated. It is made from seasonal, organic vegetables, and it can often change. Ours was green, with potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and a bunch of fresh herbs. Healthy, delicious and creamy!
5 – Dal Bhat
Nepalese national dish
We’ve been writing about this dish since our second day in Nepal, when we took part in a cooking class just outside Kathmandu. It’s the national dish and all Nepalese love it: The same for the travelers like us! During our trip, we looked for the best Dal bhat in the country, trying many of them. You know what? The one of Krishnarpan restaurant is obviously one of the best ones. This came as no surprise, at this point!
“We serve Dal Bhat in a traditional copper plate: In Nepal we think that it makes your life longer!”, Sonam explained to us. Another proof that everything here has its own significance and nothing is left to casualty.
This version of the dish mixes traditional ingredients with some regional specialties. The first innovation is that we actually found two kinds of rice, basmati and brown rice, instead of the more common “white long grain” rice. As always, we mixed the rice with the other elements, such as:
- Dal: Lentil soup with Himalayan herbs;
- Chicken curry;
- Vegetable curry;
- Sauteed spinach with Nepalese spices;
- Stir-fried cauliflower and green peas;
- Two kinds of Pickles (Achar).
We immediately realized how good it was! All the variety and diversity of the tastes was pure poetry. Salty, spicy, sweet, sour, crunchy and soft: Every bite is different from the previous one. The pickles were unforgettable: Small purple plums, sweet and sour, smooth and soft like the Nepalese Cashmere Pashmina.
6 – Dessert
Yogurt with pumplin pudding
After having eaten so much, we were a bit scared about having a dessert as well. But we never let our stomachs stop ourselves, so we went for it. It was a light cream made of yogurt, with a selection of fresh fruits on one side and a pumpkin pudding on the other. Guess what? It was the perfect way to close the dinner. The yogurt was light and just slightly sweet, and the pumpkin was great. With butter, sugar and raisins it reminded us a little of the Indian carrots pudding. We could eat it every day without getting bored.
Bonus: The after dinner
In Nepal, it is a tradition to chew and eat something to refresh your mouth, after lunch or dinner. Usually it’s a bunch of fennel seeds with a bit of sugar, but at the Krishnarpan restaurant they like to overcome the expectations. Take a look at the plate of marvel:
The skillful waitress composed for each of us a different mix of spices, sweets and digestive seeds, placing it directly on our palms. The taste was surprising! It really refreshed and cleaned our mouths. We had to try some other different pieces of sweets and spices, just like curious kids.
After a black tea, the moment of the farewell came. Not before receiving the last gift: A small red brick, like the one used to build the place, with different traditional decorations. Zuzana got a lotus flower, the symbol of peace and wisdom: It’s also the meaning of her first name, such a coincidence. Or maybe not?
Our dinner at the Krishnarpan restaurant was one of the best experiences of our lives, one of those things we’ll remember when we are old. The warmth they welcomed and treated us with, will make us come back. If you’re looking for a unforgettable night, be sure to pay them a visit when in Kathmandu! Check their website and the contact page for more details.
*Krishnarpan Restaurant provided us with a complimentary dinner. As always, all opinions and all photos are our own.*