One establishment has become an oasis of calm and good food in an area not known for its restaurants.
--BY AASHIYANA ADHIKARI
Remember the last time you read a good book? Not just an anthology of short stories or a long read, but a really good novel? One that had you completely immersed in a character, a story or a place so much that you never wanted the book to end? Well I haven’t. Most of the reading I do is limited to when I’m on the commode or reading a menu.
That said, a visit to Erma Restaurant and Ara Bar at Hotel Shambala for me was the version of being completely immersed in a good novel. Nowadays in Kathmandu, you will find lot of restaurants boasting continental menus that serve nothing new. The same old food, with the same old menu, but Erma Restaurant and Ara Bar serves you cuisines from all over the world along with authentic Tibetan cuisines. Tibetan delicacies are the specialty of the restaurant at this Tibetan boutique hotel situated at Bansbari.
With both indoor and outdoor seating arrangements, the restaurant seats up to 70 people at a time. The vibe of the restaurant is both formal and with just the right amount of casualness– it’s like sitting down in a restaurant you’ve been to a hundred times before, even if it’s your first time. The eatery itself, designed by the well-known architect Siddhartha Gopali, is not only beautiful, but is also very functional. There is a lively bar area that’s perfect for a quick drink and some snacks, and the tables in the dining room behind it are comfortable, spacious, and just quiet enough so that you can actually carry on a conversation. The service is friendly and professional, the cocktails are good, and the wine list is extensive and loaded with classy looking bottles.
The food, handled by Head Chef Janak Thapa is Tibetan-inspired, vegetable-driven, and absolutely incredible. “Tibetan Hot Pot is one of my signature dishes here which is very famous among the guests,” says Thapa. Not only does he have magic in his hands but his passion for food can be well seen through the way every delicacy is served. As you see each dish come out of the kitchen, you’ll know for certain that you want it to be a part of your life. It’ll be hard not to, seeing as how the food is great and this is honestly just a pleasant place to have a meal. They also play a pleasing contemporary soundtrack at the right volume that allows you to enjoy the music but still have a conversation.
This eatery does not just serve Tibetan cuisine, with over 30 staff, their specialty also lies in cuisines from the region including the biryani and Tandoori items, as well as the traditional Nepali thali. The chef’s other signature dish, Shambala Chicken (chicken breast cooked with homemade BBQ sauce served with buttered vegetables and mashed potato topped with cheese, bacon and grilled tomato) is an absolute delight to your palate. On the vegetarian side, you should not miss the Paneer Tikka (clay oven grilled marinated cheese dices served with fresh green chilli and papad).
Erma also serves middle eastern cuisines like Chicken Shawarrma (shredded roast chicken wrapped in pita bread with shredded lettuce, tomato and onion served with pickled cucumber and tahini sauce) and Baba Ghanoush ( roasted eggplant mixed with tomato, onion, lemon juice, olive oil and creamy yoghurt served with pita bread) which is very delicious. Nasi Goreng (fried rice with shrimp, vegetables and spices, usually seasoned with sweet soy sauce) is an Indonesian dish served here which is equally palatable.
If you have a sweet tooth, this place certainly won’t disappoint you. Desserts like Chocolate Lava Cake and Cheese Cake absolutely melts in your mouth with its amazing flavours. You certainly would not want to miss that!
Erma is affordable, the service is friendly, and the food is interesting without being too fussy. Everything about this place from the service to the cocktails to the glorious food they serve is perfect. The restaurant is a hit with the weekday fashionistas and weekend crowds, but Erma can still quietly play host to the next great time you will definitely recall.