Recently, efforts are being made to put Nepali cuisine on the world map, but we hardly appreciate ‘authentic’ Nepali cuisine. We seem to take our food for granted as most of us often say ‘why eat out dal bhat, I can eat that at home’–a reason why Nepali cuisine isn’t as well known as other cuisines.
Here in Nepal, the word ‘authentic’ seems to have been misused over the last decade. A number of restaurants have opened across the city that claim to serve authentic Nepali cuisine; but most of them fail to live up to their expectation as they serve the same food calling it Thakali or Thali.
However, there are some which do try to give more than just food. At Utsav, you get more than just good food, you get an experience which will stay with you for years to come. It’s a restaurant that has incorporated Nepali culture with Nepali food and has been doing so since 2009.
On arrival, I am greeted warmly by the staff dressed in full Nepali attire who puts a tika on my forehead. Most visitors here are foreigners and to give the patrons an idea about Nepali hospitality, they do so for all the guests who come to the restaurant. That is why even before I take a seat, I feel welcomed and am already impressed.
The restaurant was opened in 2009 with the vision of serving authentic Nepali food to the foreigners who come to Nepal. As I take my seat, I am greeted by Mahesh Regmi, the manager of the restaurant who tells me about the history of this nine-year-old eatery. Previously, it was at a building where club déjà vu is at; but after the 2015 earthquake, the building needed repairing so the owners decided to move to a better place a near Lal Durbar in Durbar Marg.
The best thing about Utsav is its hospitality and their food along with the cultural dance performance which is quite unique in its own.
In most restaurants, they serve you food and that’s about it, there is no interaction with the guests, but that’s not the case here. Here, the staff talk to the guests and explain the food that is being put on their plate along with any other query one has.
While I sit there observing a group of foreigners try aila, my food arrives. I have the same meal the foreigners have and for starters, the staff put some chicken momo on the table. The momo, cooked to perfection, is quite brilliant as it is full of flavours and tastes homely.
As I finish the starters, the cultural performance starts. A group of boys and girl in traditional Nepali attire start the performance. It’s mostly dance that isn’t seen in other places. Most of them are cultural dance which depicts the stories of gods and goddesses.
While I observe the dance, the staff put a traditional Nepali brass plate on the table. Then comes the main course starting with steamed rice followed by black lentils tempered with herbs. To go with that, the staff bring mix-vegetable, sautéed spinach, Nepali style chicken, Nepali style fish and fresh tomato pickle.
The meal as a whole is quite homely. No artificial flavours like monosodium glutamate are added during preparations so it is like you’re dining in your own home. The chicken is tender, not too spicy considering the taste buds of the foreigners present. The fish is the same and is delicious. The mixed vegetables aren’t that good, but the spinach is as good as one cooked at home by our mothers and grandmothers. A Nepali meal is incomplete without a pickle and the tomato pickle complements the entire meal.
The performances continue throughout the meal without being intrusive. The performers are talented, energetic and they bring the characters to life with the various costume changes.
The ambience and decor of this place gives you a taste of old times. The flooring, the furniture and overall decor compliment the set-up which can cater up to 250 people in the two large halls. Apart from dinner, the place is also ideal to host conferences and can also be an option for team building activities for corporate houses.
Apart from the set Nepali meal, they also serve other cuisines to cater to the needs of their diverse patrons.
To sum up, the restaurant is quite unique and offers a solid Nepali experience which is different to other similar restaurants. It’s a place you go for an experience rather than the food that will leave you and your family wanting to come back for more.
Location: Lal Durbar, Durbar Marg (The alley beside Ace Travels)
Opening times: 10 AM to 10 PM
Phone: +977 01 4430170, +977 01 4434965
Email: [email protected]