Awe and envy. That is what I feel when hearing about friends' travels to Nepal. Wedged between India and China, this diverse country of approximately 27 million people, speaking over 100 different dialects, is about the size of Arkansas. Its terrain ranges from sea level at Kechana Kalan up to the highest peak on earth, Sagarmatha (commonly known to us as Mount Everest). Luckily, the partners of the popular Kathmandu restaurant in Millcreek opened a second location near downtown Salt Lake on 700 East, an easier drive or bike ride for some like me. While dining there—surrounded by the carvings, textiles, photos, music and people of Nepal—I can maintain the awe and mitigate the envy just a little bit.
Sometimes known as Kathmandu 2, the more recent restaurant also offers fresh, enticing Nepali and Indian cuisine, friendly service, good prices and easy parking, plus beer and wine to ensure a complete dining experience. Manager Rabi Subedi explains that the aim is to cultivate regular patrons and establish a quality reputation for "good service and good food so that people come back again and again."
The partners, Subedi, Yubaraj Sapkota, Gopal Poudel and Santa Rai, are all natives of Nepal. They decided to open the second location after asking customers of its successful original location on 3142 South Highland Dr., Salt Lake, their opinions. Downtowners are currently taking advantage of the Kathmandu lunch buffet that features new items daily, Monday through Saturday. It is a satisfying way to sample Nepali specialties and favorite Indian dishes for around $10. This buffet was where I learned that I like Khashi, which is Goat Curry, something I might not usually order (mainly because I am a Saag Paneer addict and have always chosen that from the Indian side of the Kathmandu menu).
For dinner, the entire range of Nepali and Indian dishes is available in the serene dining room decorated in gold, black and red. There are tandoori choices; Thali and combination platters; a Kids Menu; lassi, juice and cardamom tea; numerous gluten-free and vegan choices, and more. Some tables are occupied by solo students, some by larger groups taking advantage of being able to pass multiple dishes around the table to share. The kind staff will help you decide what spice level is best, or which Kathmandu signature dishes you are ready to try. Fresh nan bread and steamed basmati rice come with most entrees too.
Echoing its unique geography, some of Nepal's culinary specialties might be described as a blend of Tibetan and Indian. Momos, stuffed and steamed dumplings, are an example, as is Chow Chow, a pan-fried noodle dish with distinctive Indian flavors. Nepali spices are very similar to Indian, but its curries will often include more fenugreek (methi) or caraway (jwanu). Subedi mentions that one of the most popular Nepali dishes at Kathmandu is the Everest Chicken or Lamb – a sweet and spicy curry with tomatoes, onion and sliced mango. There are also the traditional dishes of Thukpa, a noodle soup, andQuanti Masala, a festival stew with nine different varieties of beans. There are abundant choices of appetizers, nan variations, main courses and dessert redolent of Indian and Himalyan cultures.
The Kathmandu has always aimed to share a little of Nepal with guests. The staff wears traditional clothes and Nepali carvings decorate the walls. Subedi goes back once a year and many of the colorful photos in the ongoing slide show of Nepal scenes are his. Nepali music plays in the dining room and when one song came on during my visit, he related that it is his music: "I recorded this song in Nepal and made a CD." It is a love song. That is what this food feels like.
The Kathmandu Downtown
212 S. 700 E. Salt Lake City, UT
Dine-in, take-out and catering available
Beer & wine
Monday-Saturday: 11:30 am-10 pm
(Buffet from 11:30 am-2:30 pm)
Sunday: 12 pm-9 pm