You know you're destined for an out-of-the-ordinary dining experience the minute you walk through the door at Katmandu Ganguri. The heady aromas of exotic herbs and spices wafting out of the kitchen summon up images of far-off lands, and the atmospheric Tibetan music on the stereo completes the picture. If you've never had Nepalese or Tibetan food you'll be tempted to give it a try, and the prices here are hard to resist - set-price dinners go for Y1100-2500, with lunches starting at Y700. Be forewarned though - portion sizes are more than ample, so if you're not in the mood for a big meal you might want to order a la carte.
The choices are broad, from soups and light snacks like garlic fried chicken (Y800) and fried noodles, to house specials like the intriguing "Tibetan pizza" (Himalayan Shyabhale - Y700) and Tibetan meatballs in hot garlic sauce (Y800). The 4-course "Nepali set" (Y2000) includes a good sampling of items from the Nepalese side of the menu, including soup, momo dumplings, a stir-fry and a curry.
The soup (Alu Tama) is vaguely reminiscent of Chinese hot and sour soup, but thicker and more richly spiced, made with bamboo shoots and potatoes and garnished with something almost like toasted peppercorns. The momo are steamed dumplings of well seasoned pork, wrapped in a thick, chewy dough and accompanied by seriously hot chili sauce. The stir-fry is also spicy - crispy chicken strips with onions, tomatoes, green peppers and plenty of garlic.
It's easy to work up a sweat before the curries even arrive, and they continue the overall theme - richly spiced, garlicky, and satisfyingly pyrotechnic - although we did find the chicken curry too salty for our tastes. Curry options also include pork, prawn, vegetable, mushroom, potato, spinach and pumpkin. As you can see there's plenty to keep vegetarians happy, and many of the starters come in vegetable versions as well. (Plus there's an all-vegetarian "healthy set" for Y2000.)
Drinks include draft Asahi beer (Y400), refreshing lassi (Y300), and wines from Y1500/bottle (for the Santa Helena house wine from Chile).
by Theresa Rodriguez
This book will introduce you to more than twenty of Japan's favorite specialty foods that are less well known abroad, along with a guide to the best places in Tokyo to try them and expert tips on what to order. From Bento.com.