The Grouchy Gourmet went to a gathering recently where some vegetarian friends were raving about a local restaurant they frequented. The group invited Grouchy to accompany them one day to Kathmandu Bistro on 727 Main Street in downtown Rapid City and give it a try.
The restaurant, which opened in 2013, is owned by Mahendra Poudel, Pushpa Poudel, and Pushpa Thapa of Kathmandu, Nepal, and a fourth co-owner, Adam Newman.
Having traveled to Northern India many years ago, plus having several friends and acquaintances from the region, Grouchy knew a thing or two about authentic Indian cuisine and, therefore, had particular expectations from the start.
Grouchy thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the menu in advance so on the way to work one day, Grouchy decided to swing by the Kathmandu Bistro and pick up a take-out menu. “Hmmm;” thought Grouchy speculatively, “This looks interesting.” The menu promised an “authentic culinary experience of vegetarian and non-vegetarian Nepalese and Indian food, so that got Grouchy’s attention.
“But,” Grouchy thought, “what about the prices?” Upon further scrutiny, Grouchy discovered with delight that an eight-dish all-you-can eat lunch buffet was served M-F for only $12. Appetizers ranged from $5-7 and traditional breads ranged from $3-5 with a basket of plain naan, garlic naan and aloo paratha for $9.
Classic entrees like spicy vegetable, chicken or lamb biryani, lentil, seafood, chicken and lamb or goat curries and masalas at your preferred level of spiciness, and ranged from $10-22, with tandoori dishes such as Rack of Lamb, Chicken Tikka or mixed grill of fish, chicken, and lamb from $16- 25. Non-vegetarian house specialties, from $10-25, featured alligator, goat or chicken meats, such as Alligator Bhuna, which includes “tender Florida Alligator meat cooked with ginger, garlic, onion, and fenugreek leaf in a spicy tomato sauce.”
If that wasn’t enough to convince Grouchy that a dinner out at Kathmandu -Bistro would be a promising adventure, superb chef specialties were also offered such as Alligator Taas (white meat from white alligator tail marinated in milk and ginger garlic, coated in Himalayan seasonings pan seared and served over a sizzling bed of onions and green peppers, a top menu item at $28), plus Chicken and Lamb Kaddai, or Lobster Masala, ranging in price from $16-25.
The big day arrived and Grouchy was hungry, with a capital H. “Humph!” thought Grumpy; “this better be filling or I’m gonna be grumpier. “
As soon as the troupe entered the front door, music of the Indian Subcontinent filled the midday breeze with sounds of the tunga, pungi, and madal, three Nepalese musical instruments, but it was the aromatic spices permeating the atmosphere, which was the main attraction for Grouchy.
The quartet of buddies was seated in a cozy booth and one of the team exchanged a cordial “Namaste” with the waiter. Appetizers were ordered and Grouchy decided to try a plate of Vegetable Pakodas, fried mixed-vegetable fritters served with three dipping chutneys, sweet and spicy mango, an herbaceous fresh mint-cilantro, and a tangy hot and sour.
For an entree, Grouchy ordered Vegetable Biriyani, basmati rice cooked to perfection with a blend of hot and aromatic spices, tender vegetables, nuts and raisins, and a side of raita, cool homemade yogurt blended with shredded cucumbers and carrots. While waiting for the appetizers to arrive, Grouchy and friends decided to try a cup of the Himalayan Chai, boiled milk tea blended with aromatic Himalayan spices. Grouchy was invited to taste the Onion Kulcha, a type of unleavened bread laced with tiny bits of red onion and lightly browned by baking in a traditional tandoori clay-lined oven; as well as the spiced lentil, Mulligatawny Soup.
For many of the entrees you can ask for mild, medium, or hot spiced dishes.
Grouchy recommends Kathmandu Bistro for anyone craving a culinary experience from one of the world’s oldest cultures, the one at the top of the world. One word of caution however, serving sizes are custom made for a Himalayan mountain-sized appetite, so you can take food home and enjoy it again later. Grouchy did just that and went back for Pista Kulfi, pistachio ice cream, the next day.