Mumbo Gumbo: An Import Expert

Kathmandu's Manoj Lama.

Kathmandu’s Manoj Lama.

The restaurant merry-go-round spins again in Asheville…Sugo, a wonderful family-run upscale Italian restaurant folded in late 2008, leaving empty a Patton Avenue building that had previously been home to the Left Bank.

Then a few months ago, reports of a restaurant serving Himalayan-style food began to pop up among the culinary cognoscenti. Manoj and Sushila Lama, owners of Himalayan Imports, had decided to bring a taste of their culture to the mountains of Western North Carolina. A very short time later, prayer flags went up over the front door. On Christmas Eve, before Sugo’s sign had even been taken down, a banner reading Kathmandu was raised, and the restaurant was open to the public.

On my first trip to the restaurant, a mere two weeks after its opening, it was clear that Kathmandu was still working out the kinks, but the food was very, very tasty. The Bheda Poleko, marinated lamb baked in a clay oven, arrived sizzling on a platter with an assortment of fresh vegetables that beat the stuffing out of the usual mixed veggie hodgepodge. The Chai is the real deal there, too, and decidedly chock full of caffeine.

By the time of this article’s publication, the restaurant will be serving a full buffet for lunch, but will likely offer some a la carte options. The dinner menu is more expansive, including options like lamb vindaloo and samosas that will be familiar to lovers of Indian cuisine, as well as some traditional Nepali staples that may not. A vegetarian Chau Chau, for example, one of the many meatless options that Kathmandu turns out, is a dish of wheat noodles sautéed with spices and vegetables.

Kathmandu is located at 90 Patton Avenue in downtown Asheville. For more information, call 252-1080.

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