Andeep, owner of the Gurkha Kitchen
Colourful prayer flags fluttering against a stormy sky confirmed we’d arrived at Nottingham’s only Nepalese restaurant - Gurkha Kitchen in Bilborough. Formerly a typical estate pub, inside it’s Shangri-La; lofty wooden-beamed ceilings and reclaimed-brick chimneys are festooned with statues, candles, Nepalese musical instruments (which they use during festivals) and weapons (which they presumably use when someone tries to do a runner), whilst the immaculate furnishings are brightened with lustrous shadings of red - Nepal’s lucky colour.
If you’re after a curry-in-a-hurry, they also run a takeaway out the back, which is presided over by chef (and owner) Andeep, but we were happy to take a seat and nibble on complementary poppadums and chutneys whilst sipping imported Gurkha Beer (660ml, £4.50). With both Indian and Nepalese dishes on offer, the menu includes Andeep’s traditional family recipes as well as his own culinary inventions. The place is so authentic that the spices are sent over on a regular basis from the home country by Andeep’s own mother.
My starter - sekuwa chicken (£3.95) - was a delicious combination of succulent meat and complex spices accompanied by a homemade sweet and sour coriander sauce and side salad. Being new to Nepalese food, we asked the restaurant staff to recommend dishes for one vegetarian who likes things hot and one meat eater who does not. So my friend dug into Kathmandu vegetables (a festival dish with a kick, cooked with masala spices and cream - £7.85), paungo chamri (£3.75), vegetable pakoras (£3.25) and vegetable rice (£2.65). Paungo chamri is a home-made cheese and spinach dish and can only be described as sensational!
Nepalese curries tend to be milder than their Indian counterparts, and Himalayan chicken (£7.95) - I assumed it is the sauce that was Himalayan, rather than the beast (for competitive types, there is also Everest chicken). Himalayan is a creamy mild curry with a hit of ginger, and a good match with the Nepali rice – a traditional dish cooked with chicken tikka, cashew nuts and sultanas.
If I had a spare stomach just for dessert, I’d have been tempted by punky or vacky (£3.25) – chocolate and vanilla ice cream served in a penguin or cow-shaped toy. What’s not to like? With Sunday buffets, and celebrations to mark Nepali festivals they have a huge function room (with much of the original pub décor still intact) for hire, and a really unique menu.
This is an one-off place run by friendly people who are passionate about food. What impressed me the most was that Gurkha Kitchen achieves that rare combination – individuality and quality. Someone really should give Joanna Lumley a call - she’d love it here.
Glaisdale Drive West, NG8 4GY. Tel: 0115 929 0194
Gurkha Kitchen website