Nepali Times
Review
Cafe Kaldi

SOMEPLACE ELSE by MARCO POLA


What was once a den for freelancers and laptop users alike, Café Kaldi in Thamel leaves us unplugged. Its long, lounge corridor of podlike table settings is conducive to long hours of solitary work. But the uneven ratio of high wattage consumption to minimal coffee purchases per hour has forced the shop to cut down on its hours and bar customers from plugging in. Without energy access, cafes pivoted on free Wi-Fi like Kaldi need to primp up on its offerings or risk losing clientele.

Since 1983, Café Kaldi, with a seasonal selection of coffee blends and original roasts, has been a household name in Japan. In 2009, the franchise opened shop in Thamel and recently a second outlet in New Baneshor across from the Everest Hotel.

Its extensive list of beverages reflects Starbucks's sway on the modern-day coffee shop, complete with sugary creations like the Caramel Macchiato, Café Mocha and Iced Chiya.

But down to basics, the espresso was flat in flavour and stretched a tad too long leaving an acrid aftertaste. The Kokuto Latte, served iced or hot, is the menu's sweetest concoction: a latte floating over a heavy layer of liquid raw sugar—cavities beware! Sadly, among its original specialties, the Azuko Green Tea (an iced green tea over red bean) and the Coffee Jelly Smoothie (a blended iced latte over coffee gelatin) have been discontinued. The coffee smoothies, seasonal fruit smoothies (mango, papaya, strawberry) and green tea smoothie (made with or without milk) are a hit.

When it comes to grub, Kaldi's palate lacks sophistication. Its dishes are merely cosmetic, clean but plain. So, if you must eat something and are too bothered to traipse down to any of the other proper restaurants in Thamel, the chicken burger and the spicy momos are the only dishes worth sampling. The cakes and desserts are fluff.

These days, due to cutbacks, Kaldi's customers could easily find themselves drinking or working in an empty café. But as a silver lining, compared to other coffee parlors, its WiFi is still free (come fully charged!), prices (tax included) are decent, and service is impeccable.

Turn into Mandala Street from Thamel Chowk and head to the end of the block, and before the turn look right and up the stairs.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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