Sunday, 9 December 2007

Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n

Ever found yourself sitting at home, wanting to go out for dinner to somewhere new, to eat something different? That's exactly where we found ourselves before heading out to dinner at Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n at Paddington.

I knew there was a Nepalese restaurant in the building (which used to house Casa Mia) but hadn't managed to get there for dinner. We were met with a friendly face at the door and quickly shown to our table, which was in a pretty busy walkway for the restaurant. But we weren't there for anything special, nor were we expecting silver service, so it was fine.

Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n is obviously popular with groups, and has a number of private rooms that you can book. One in particular was right next to our table, with a low floor and cushions to sit on. The group in that room were having a great night.

It's BYO, with a $2 per person corkage charge, which probably explains the attraction for big groups. Within a couple of minutes of sitting down, out came a bottle of cold water, glasses were poured, and an ice-bucket for our bottle of white. So far, so good.

Anyway, we had come here to eat something different. So what food do they serve? The short answer is Nepalese & Himalayan.

We started off with a choila poleko ($7) - "grilled beef marinated with garlic, ginger & spices turned in mustard oil, served on a bed of lettuce, shallots & Spanish onion, with lemon dressing." I wasn't sure from the description if I should be expecting a salad or some kind of Nepalese san choy bau. It came out on a long plate, and was basically served as a salad with plenty of chunks of grilled beef. It is one of the tastiest salads I have eaten for a long, long time. I will definitely be back for another one. The meat had obviously been marinated, there was a good, but not overwhelming chilli kick and the dressing had a fantastic citrus tang. It was the perfect salad for a Brisbane summer night, washed down with a glass of white wine.

We also had a serve of the vegetable pakoras ($7). The pakoras were tasty, but not in the same league as the choila poleko. They also could have been cooked a tad longer for more crunchiness. Maybe I was just being overly harsh on them because my salad was so good.

Other starters include samosas, spring rolls (vegetable or meat), momas (steamed dumplings) and dhal soup. All the starters are $7. At that price, you might as well order a few.

Once we had finished our starters, the wait staff were very keen to bring out our mains. We were even asked before finishing our starters if we wanted the mains to be cooked "now". They eventually got the hint that we weren't in a hurry, but the mains came out without much delay.

I went for the phari masu - diced goat cooked with pumpkin, garlic, ginger, cumin and fenugreek seed ($14). After my tangy, clean entree, this was at the other end of the food spectrum - rich goat meat served in a thick sauce with pumpkin and spices. Again, it was very tasty. I don't often get the chance to eat goat in Brisbane, so its always worth a try when it does pop up on the menu. I think if you do order this dish, make sure you also order something a bit lighter, like some vegetables. The richness of the dish makes it a struggle to eat it all yourself.

We also tried the aloo kofta - mashed potato & vegetable balls cooked with vegetables & coriander seeds, served with a tomato sauce. This dish was a hit, and the perfect accompaniment to my goat. Although the koftas were fairly filling, the dish itself was very fragrant and had a real clean texture to it. It was delicious.

There are plenty of mains to choose from. Vegetarians are well catered for, with kauli mattar (cauliflower, potatoes & peas), channa ko tarkari (chickpeas & potatoes) and rajma ko tarkari (kidney beans, potatoes & mushrooms) some of the dishes on offer (all $11).

The menu also covers a good range of fish (like the jhol machaa tareko - simmered in tomato sauce with mustard seeds - $17), chicken (sherpa chicken - cooked in a creamy sauce with coriander, lime leaf and lemon - $14), lamb and beef (goru ko masu - slowly cooked in cardamom, cumin, coriander & cinnamon with tomato gravy - $14).

You also have the option of banquets or platters (which appear to be terrific value) if you want to get a good cross section of the menu. Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n does a small range of desserts if you still have room for more at the end of the meal.

The restaurant is sparsely decorated with traditional ornaments, which gives it a bit of a rustic feel. However, given its popularity with groups, Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n is not the place you would be heading for a romantic night out. On the other hand, its perfect for a group of friends, or a tasty dinner when you are looking for something other than your local Thai, Chinese or Indian.

Finally, you've probably noticed already, but the prices are fantastic. Not only are the prices great, but the servings are more than generous. Our dinner for two was $43 including corkage, and we didn't finish our starters or mains.

I will definitely be going back, next time with a group of friends into one of the private rooms. With food like this, and its BYO appeal, Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n is the perfect place for a great night out.

What does all this mean? Very tasty Nepalese & Himalayan food at rock-bottom prices.

food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - Good
Ambience - some traditional Nepalese ornaments
Value for Money - Top shelf
Wine - BYO
Vegetarian - Great
Gluten Free - Good

Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n
72 Latrobe Terrace
Paddington 4064
P - 07 3369 7272
E -

Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n on Urbanspoon

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