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On a street in Patan, Kathmandu, down a low passageway between two buildings that opens into a smoky room, is one of the best restaurants in Nepal. You may initially think that you've wandered into someone's private kitchen, except that there are groups of people clustered around rickety tables and a Pepsi cooler in one corner. The walls are covered in soot and the sink is a faucet in the corner. On the floor to the left of the entrance, two women sit surrounded by pots, bowls, and hot griddles. Immediately noticeable is the meat hanging from the ceiling: it's buffalo, and the beginning stages of what is called sukuti. It's meat that is dried, then stir-fried and chopped up with spices, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
When my friend Kerry brought me into what the locals call "Honacha," we found a table in the back, and got a few random looks from the other diners until she walked up to the chefs and ordered us a few dishes. About three minutes later, the boy acting as waiter/dishwasher/gofer brought us a couple of plates of choila (marinated, flame grilled buffalo), two orders of bara (lentil pancakes with an egg cooked into it), a plate of aloo sandeko (a potato curry), and a two big plates of chiura (beaten rice). The buffalo and potatoes were richly seasoned, and incredibly spicy, but the heat was tempered by the lentil pancakes and beaten rice.
As we washed down our meal with a Pepsi (with real sugar!), we watched the two women who run the restaurant churn out plate after plate of dishes. Some folks came in to stay and eat, sitting on small stools or squatting on the floor. Others came in and picked up to-go containers. The most surprising aspect (aside from the fact that all of these dishes are considered mere snacks) is that this place has been in operation for over 40 years, and is now being operated by the daughter of the original owner. For a truly authentic experience, take a risk, duck down that random-looking alley, and find the smoky room behind the Krishna Mandir Temple. You won't be disappointed.
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