am Khatri's iconic Kathmandu could be found 517 Yonge Street between Wellesley and College for almost 18 years until condo development and construction forced him to relocate. People came from all over the world to try the first Nepalese restaurant in North America and many become longtime fans and regulars.
Luckily, Kathmandu has found a new home on Cumberland Street in Yorkville, one of the city’s swankiest neighbourhoods, just a few steps from Yonge Street.
Yam and his family – father Ganesh, mother Mana, brother Prem and sister Debu - had to completely redo the kitchen, fitting it with new tandoori ovens, a ventilation system (very important in a Nepalese kitchen), and a large stove for all the pots of slow simmered sauces.
The Khatris are from Pokhara, the second largest city of Nepal, 200 km west of the capital Kathmandu.
Yam’s father Ganesh is a chef and upon arriving in Canada, worked at a restaurant in Montreal. "Most of the dishes are from my Dad’s recipes." Ganesh still cooks at the restaurant, as does mom, Mana. Chef Gopal tends to the tandoor oven, while Chef Santa is in charge of curries. Yam, a hotel management graduate, works out in front.
Nepalese food is very similar to Indian, Khatri says. "It’s like comparing an American burger to a Canadian burger. Culturally, we are very similar."
While the dishes may look and sound like familiar Indian fare, the way its prepared is unique, thanks to the subtle differences such as spicing, like the bitter pepper used in Shekewa ($14.99), a dish of tender goat or lamb, marinated in a yogurt curry sauce and cooked in a charcoal oven.
Goat is very popular in Nepal, as "it’s a very mountainous animal. A lot of people want to try it," says Khatri. "We try to present it in a unique way."
Chicken Momos ($10.99) are also widely popular in Nepal, though the dish didn’t originate there. These steamed chicken dumplings are spiced with fresh coriander, ginger and garlic and served with homemade achar, a velvety, spicy dipping sauce.
Also common in Nepal – lentils rice and a wide variety of vegetables. "We eat meat once a month, it’s a special thing," says Khatri. For the North American clientele a selection of meat on the menu including lamb, goat, chicken, in addition to fish and seafood selections, has been added.
An interesting aspect to Nepalese cooking is that very little oil or ghee used.
In addition to the food, the people and service is very Nepalese here. Which is perhaps why Kathmandu is called upon to do many Nepalese functions throughout the year. Just this weekend, they are catering for a fundraising event for Nepal.
Kathmandu is open for lunch (with both lunch buffet and a la carte items available) and dinner seven days a week.
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