If we think cuisine diversity, Nepal and its cuisine are almost as far removed from the Gold Coast as you can get. Most of us know little about Nepal, our only chance of experiencing its cuisine being Kathmandu Kitchen, Kingscliff, which has gained a strong following. So, we jump at the chance to try Nepalese cuisine, having previously only tasted it at an earthquake relief fundraiser.
Owner Hem Kandel, who’s lived in Australia for 13 years and owned several franchise restaurants, started Kathmandu Momo in the Chop Chop arcade in August 2019 specialising in the food of his homeland, Nepal.
Working with him is Head Chef Jeevan Koirala, who grew up in Nepal, training and working in the 5-star Oberoi Hotel, Radisson Blu and Hyatt Regency Kathmandu before coming to Australia three years ago. Together with Chef Shiv Bahadur, he presents an extensive range of Nepalese dishes, all natural and freshly prepared daily on the premises with no additives or preservatives. There are two varieties of Nepalese beer and a range of Nepalese liquors to accompany your food, as well as soft drinks.
Some of the dishes we tried were:
Buff Sukuti – dried buffalo meat sautéed with onion, tomato, ginger and garlic, served with salad, crunchy bhatmas (soya beans) and a homemade spicy sauce, this was more ‘interesting’ than a meal I’d want to have every day.
Khaja set – this plate of mixed Newari cuisine snacks is popular in Nepal, especially in Kathmandu. It consists of varieties of meat, beans, potato dishes and beaten rice which are usually consumed with local alcohol (Aila).
Told that we had to try the special Nepalese fried rice, we were not expecting this Thali-type mixed dish of snowflake-like beaten rice fried crispy with garlic (chiura), served with chicken choyla, aloo ko achar (a Nepalese spicy potato salad), bhatmas sandheko (a soya bean chat) and pickle. The rice is out of the box – a must try! ($17.95 set)
Spicy Pakauda – similar to pakora, these fried vegetable snacks are a teatime favourite. ($6 for 2)
Vegetable Chow Mein – We love the spiciness of this Nepalese stir-fried noodle dish, with seasonal vegetables, onion, garlic, soy and chilli and Nepalese spices. ($11.95)
Momos are the house specialty, a traditional delicacy in Nepal and they’re not to be missed! At Kathmandu Momo, there are twenty different choices!
Literally meaning ‘steamed bun’, momos are thought to be of Tibetan origin, travelling with immigrants throughout the region. Originally they were filled with yak meat because of the scarcity of vegetables in Nepal so it’s fitting that we choose the Steamed Buff Momo ($12.95) as they have traditional water buffalo meat filling, a bit of a novelty for us, as well as Kothey Momo ($12.95), a plate of half fried and half steamed Chicken Momo. Served with a homemade spicy sauce, they’re delicious with just the right degree of tenderness, so much so that I’d be tempted to get a plate full if I was in the vicinity.
When he’s not too busy doing all that cooking, Chef Jeevan tells us how much he loves his profession.
“I’m inspired by my Mum’s cooking,” he tells us. “I have never tasted food as good as hers anywhere,” he says.
If only there were more children who could say that!
Drop into Kathmandu Momo sometime soon for an authentic taste of Nepal. Begin with the momo and branch out from there. Though the wind was cold enough to blow us off the Himalayas (prompting me to take up Hem’s offer of a Nepalese whiskey), we were treated with overwhelming hospitality.
Hold those momo! We’ll be back!
Chop Chop, 6 Orchid Ave, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217 Ph: 07 5646 9701
Open: Mon – Sun 11am – 11pm
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Kathmandu Momo.