date of visit: Friday 13 November 2009
Never having tried Nepalese food before, I was keen to visit Glenelg’s Kathmandu Palace. We were almost put off our visit by the hot weather but we were going to have to eat anyway, so we forced ourselves away from the air conditioner and down to the Bay.
Kathmandu Palace, the sister restaurant of the Kathmandu on Hutt Street, is housed in a lovely old building on Nile Street. The restaurant occupies only the ground floor, so it is quite small, but it doesn’t feel cramped. Crucially, the use of soft furnishings (carpet! soft chairs! table cloths! proper cloth napkins!) means that the restaurant is not noisy either.
We arrived late for our reservation (well, you try parking in Glenelg on a very hot Friday night!) and, things didn’t get off to a great start, as we had to wait before someone noticed, and seated, us. Fortunately, that was really the only glitch in the service and it wasn’t long before we had pappadums and drinks and were facing the daunting task of choosing our food. Throughout the remainder of the meal service was attentive, friendly and unobtrusive.
If I had to describe Nepalese food, based on this meal, I would say that it is like Indian but with less chilli and a different range of spices, with emphasis in different places, but many of the techniques appear to be similar.
To start, I was very tempted to order steamed dumplings, until I realised that that might not be so wise on such a hot day. I opted for Chhwelaa Chiura: a sort of stir fry of buffalo with capsicum, onion and tomato, flavoured with timbur (which you might know as Szechuan pepper!), cumin and garlic. It was delicious: the timbur gave it a gentle spicy heat but the other flavours could all be picked out. It was served with flaky crispy rice (the Chiura) which certainly added textural interest and had a good flavour although some people could well find the flakes of toasted rice a little hard!
Andy started with barramundi fillets marinated in garlic, turmeric and lovage, and then grilled. Lovage is something you see very rarely on menus and it worked well with the fish and garlic. Andy thought he had won, but I disagreed!
For main courses, I ordered the Nepalese equivalent of chicken tikka! Straight from the clay oven and served on a bed of spinach and rice, with a small portion of lentils on the side, it was the perfect hot summer night’s dinner. The meat was moist and tasty, and again had gentle heat from the timbur. The Nepalese spinach was delicious and, most impressively for a curry, the presentation was elegant!
Andy also ordered from the clay oven: king prawns marinated in yogurt, ginger and chilli. Again, the dish was attractively presented and came with a small selection of greens.
Luckily, for our bellies, we had not ordered any side dishes but we did have a lasun (garlic) roti on the side. The bread was not huge – but, as with everything else, it was tasty.
We wrapped up the meal with cups of coffee and then ventured out in to the heat!
The meal came to just over $100 for the two of us – the includes the coffees, 2 James Boags and a glass of white wine. If you have an Entertainment Book you will get a 25% discount.