Review: Krisharpan (Authentic Napalese- Fine Dining)
Dwarika’s Hotel, Battisputali, Kathmandu, Nepal. Ph # +977-1-4479488
If the finest in Nepali dining is on your mind then Dwarika’s Krishnarpan is without any doubt the place for you. The dinner at this restaurant takes you on a journey through the culinary cultures of Nepal. The diversity of the food across the various communities and regions is celebrated with pride through the intricately carved menu that’s personalised in your name. Thus, needless to say that entry to this restaurant is strictly by reservation only.
We felt the opulence of the place right when we called up a day before to reserve our table, the voice on the other end asked whether we’d prefer a 6 course or an 8 or 12 or 16 or the ultimate 22 course for our dinner, the question absolutely baffled me for I’d never before heard of a 22 course meal. Frankly, in the first go we booked for 22 straight but then a second thought saved me and I called back to change it to the basic 6 course meal, while even that felt too much for our appetite. With much scepticism and excitement as we walked through the colossal gate of Dwarika’s Hotel it straightaway opened into a huge beautiful courtyard surrounded by buildings that depicted the exquisite architectural traditions of Nepal’s ancient heritage. It was almost like a moment lost in time and we were absolutely enchanted by the unexpected grandeur but right then a steward promptly walkedup to us and guided us to the restaurant that was to become a treasured memory of our Nepali expedition.
Right at the entrance of “Krishnarpan” we were greeted by our pretty attendant clad in a bright golden – orange sari and antique gold ornaments, almost like a pretty new bride which I only later found to be true as we learned that it was a traditional Newari bride’s attire she was wearing. The reminiscence of the traditional fare was evident as we were made to open our shoes right outside the dining area and our attended helped us wash our hands clean into a large vessel by pouring us water from a brass pot. Once we were trhought the cleansing ritual only then were we admitted into the dining area that boasts to have served the who’s who across the world, right from Demi More to Hillary Clinton to John Carter. The large dining hall had a spread of low tables and chairs that rose just a few inches above the floor, lined with comfortable large bolsters and cushions. Our attendant helped us seat comfortably on our table that was, well, exquisitely laid with traditional brass and silver cutleries, earthen pots and plates with black and red drapes that added a dramatic touch. Rustic metallic, lamp like chandeliers dropped from the wooden panels of the ceiling to create and absolute luxurious ambiance for the evening ahead.
Impeccable isn’t enough for the service was absolutely heat warming right from the word ‘go’. Our pretty attended was courteous, well informed, and prompt and her smile was enchanting. She politely guided me through the details of each recipe that was served with her impressive knowledge about each tradition. Despite being laden with heavy costume she was almost on her toes throughout the evening and went all out to ensure that our experience was truly the finest.
The beautiful personalised menu printed on the organic handmade paper had the detailed list of food that we were set to be served. The meals are pre-set so we were spared the trouble of choosing, except for the drinks and nothing but the fine Cabernet Sauvignon could have paired better with the glamour of the evening. Along with our wine came a complimentary traditional drink that were served in small earthen pots called ‘Allea’, it was essentially home brewed rice wine of the Newari community better known as Roxy across the country. It was such a potent drink that I had to excuse myself right after just a drop on my tongue, so try it at your own risk. The first course was the first starter named ‘Samay Bajee’, a plate full of assortment of hors d’oeuvres served during religious ceremonies of the Newari Community. It had small portions of a crispy roasted flattened rice, some crisp roasted small beans, a stir fried tangy delicious variety of small beans, a small cut of fried boiled egg, some spicy potato stir fry preparation, a dry small chunks of meat cooked with traditional spices and a small rice cake to along with some fresh salad and ginger garlic pickle on the side. Every item on plate had its own distinct taste and was quite delicious in its own peculiar way, the potato and beans were delicious bout of tangy spices, the flattened rice was perfect to mellow down the heat from the meat. But, all of that was just a first course and we were excited to see what came next.
The second course was a smaller portion to our relief, a portion of Buck-wheat pancake served with a mild and spicy Chickpeas lentils and tangy chutney. But what appeared to be a small portion was turning heavy and though it was a perfect and deliciously paired food from the ‘Tarai’ (foothill) region we raised our hands half way for we needed to taste many more delicacies. The third course was a favourite recipe from the Hills, the Momos but unlike the one’s we get at our place it was filled with a spicy mince of mutton and served with very different tangy, mellow, light green coloured chutney. It was absolutely delicious in its new incarnation and we gobbled down the entire serving. Then came the soup, it was mildly flavoured mushroom broth that was nice and warming after all the food we had already eaten.
By this time we knew we were almost full already but just then our attended announced politely ‘Lets move to the main course’, and I wondered can we? Nonetheless, we did and I just took a tasting size bite of all that was on offer, and there were a total of six different vegetables and curries along with homemade pickle to go with two varieties of rice, brown and white. The list included some organic lentils fried with Himalayan herbs, chicken curry cooked in Nepalese spices, Crispy roasted potato wedge, stir fried French beans with onions, a stir fried eggplants, sautéed spinach with Nepalese spices and a hug-plum and bitter gourd pickle. Every item that was served had its own delicious and unique flavour, the chicken gravy was outstanding and so was the organic lentil, equally good were the spinach and potatoes. As a matter of fact everything was so delicious that I could not leave without licking off my plate clean and an overstuffed tummy.
The fare did not end there, for next came the desserts which was an assortment of a small portion of yogurt flavoured with cinnamon and honey, some cut fresh fruits and Suji ko halwa (semolina pudding). Despite all my love for desserts I could not help but just taste and the yogurt was absolutely refreshing and throat cleansing after the heavy meal but still I had to give up half way through for I had reached my limit. It was the time to spread my legs and breathe some air so that the food could settle. To my amazement the attended came to ask for tea and coffee before the wrap up and with a wide smile we said ‘No thanks’ almost in unison. We had already had already had our overdose of the Nepali hospitality to last us a lifetime. We were presented with a small Ashtamangal (Nepali luck signs) as a token of parting gift and were bid farewell with the same compassion that we were received.
Need I say more, it’s a must experience whenever you happen to be in Kathmandu. As a matter of fact I’d rather stay at the Dwarika’s whenever I visit next, but that is to say only if I can afford it. Well, yes this one does come with a price and our dinner for two cost us a total of 10,529 Napalese Rupees (Including taxes and Rs 1.450 for the drinks). Having said that, it’s a worthy investment especially if you love the adventures of food in general.