|The monkey temple in Kathmandu|
Kathmandu is Nepal’s capital full of temples watched over by resident monkeys, incessant honking horns, tiger balm sellers and trekking touts. The food in the capital has all the variety you won’t find trekking in the remote mountains so we made the most of made to order falafels (Rs155) at Chick N Falafel doused in spicy sauce. These were so good that there was always a queue outside the little store front just opposite Pumpernickel bakery in Thamel.
|Eating Thai at Ying Yang in Kathmandu|
For our last meal before setting off for the Annapurna circuit we feasted at Yin Yang, a Thai restaurant with a lovely garden area to eat in. The Thai food here lives up to the Thai hot and sour promise with crunchy, golden brown spring rolls and a rich massaman curry with a great peanut flavour. The curse of the cherry tomato and broccoli floret was happily missing.
Yin Yang, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal (Ph 01 442510) 7/10
Chick N Falafel, Thamel Chowk, Kathmandu, Nepal 6/10
|Fruit seller in Pokhara|
Pokhara sits on a shimmering lake surrounded by mountains and nearly everybody here seems to be either coming from or going on a trek. After 200km walked I felt I had earned the legendary special steak at the travellers institution, Moondance restaurant. The special steak (Rs 590) is old style “surf n’ turf”, the tender pink steak with a pleasingly charred crust doused in a creamy sauce and topped with a fresh prawn. For Italian food Caffe Concerto is the best bet. The gnocchi bolognese (Rs 360) was soft and pillow like while the pizza (Rs 400) came liberally topped with a thin, crisp base.
|Eating pakara in Pokhara at Boomerang – note Lonely Planet in shot|
Boomerang restaurant with its lakeside garden setting and Olive cafe were our preferred lunch spots. At Boomerang the fresh pink lemonade was excellent alongside the spicy pakora. While at Olive I liked the bruschetta topped with vibrant tomatoes (Rs 100) accompanied by a big wedge of chocolate brownie dripping with hot chocolate sauce.
|Western style goodies – chocolate cake and peppermint tea at Olive in Pokhara|
Moondance, Central Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal. 5/10
Boomerang, Central Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal (Ph 065-461412, 462978, 463474) 4/10
Olive, Baidam Road, Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal (Ph 061 462575) 7/10
|Lumbini – the birthplace of Buddha comes complete with lots of monks and prayer flags|
Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, was distinctly underwhelming so unless you are Buddhist and visiting for religious reasons it is not worth the 10 hour bus ride to get there. We hired bikes (R150 each from our hotel) and cycled around the gaudy temples and ornamental ponds before escaping the heat and dust for a Japanese fix at the Hokke Hotel. Sitting outside in the calm of the hotel’s garden we were brought chilled wet towels and green tea. The teryaki set lunch (Rs 850) comprised plump pieces of teryaki doused chicken without bones (a rarity in Nepal), noodles, pickled vegetables, miso soup and fresh fruit. The whole meal was beautifully executed in traditional Japanese style.
|Eating Japanese style in Lumbini|
At night we feasted on Thukpa, a Tibetan noodle soup that you find everywhere in Nepal at The Three Fox restaurant. The Three Fox is up a set of rickety stairs looking over the Lumbini Bazaar and inside it looks rather tired and worn but the food here is good with a decent although slightly oily spaghetti bolognese (Rs 200) and Thukpa packed with fat, wriggly noodles, creamy paneer and slivers of roasted beef (Rs 130).
|Thukpa at the Three Fox Restaurant|
Gourmet Travel Tips
- We flew to Kathmandu from London with Kingfisher Air which flies via Delhi for £450 one way. Once in Nepal we travelled by both local and tourist bus which were easy to organise but pretty uncomfortable.
- I’ve put lots of tips about trekking in my post on the Annapurna circuit.
- Kathmandu: We stayed at Hotel Blue Horizon which was down a Thamel back street so away from a lot of the noise. It has a lovely wifi enabled garden area to sit in the sun, eat, drink and meet other travellers. The downside were the rooms which were dark and worn looking. Details: Hotel Blue Horizon, Tridevi Marg (Ph 4421971) Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve. USD$20 a night. 6/10
- Pokhara: Hotel Grand Holiday promises you will arrive as a guest and leave as a friend. I don’t know if our relationship quite developed that far but the hotel had beds with sheets and hot showers, both luxuries after 16 days trekking. Avoid the rooms facing into the internal staircase as they are a bit noisy. Details: Hotel Grand Holiday USD$20 a night 5/10
- Lumbini: The pick of the budget hotels in Lumbini is the Lumbini Village Lodge. Situated right on the Lumbini Bazaar it is protected from the noise of the street by the setting which is around a big internal courtyard with a mango tree growing in it. Rooms are basic but clean with ensuite bathrooms and mosquito netted windows which are essential in this part of Nepal. There is no hot water or wifi sadly. Details: Lumbini Village Lodge, Lumbini, Nepal firstname.lastname@example.org – Although they failed to answer our emails and we got a room just by turning up. (Ph 580432). Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve. Rs600 a night. 4/10