PICS: RUBY TUESDAY
Taas and sekuwa of yore (read about ten years ago) were shady, dimly-lit joints where the Nepali man went to cohort with his male friends, have a few drinks and gorge on meaty delights. By the end of the evening, as he was tottering back home, he would ask the sauji to 'home pack' a few plates for his dutiful wife and children.
Fast forward to Taas and Tawa Restaurant in 2012, and you will find that there is absolute gender balance. No longer dark and dingy, the place is clean, open and utilitarian. Furnished with pale-stripped wooden tables and chairs, the atmosphere is welcoming and surprisingly chic.
The menu offers taas, sekuwa, bhutan and such. For those uninitiated in these Nepali delights, they are generally mutton and chicken skewered and cooked over a slow flame. Taas is the latecomer among these and was introduced in Kathmandu a mere decade or two ago. It was the specialty in the Tarai and travellers purportedly saved up to indulge in it. The skinless bits of meat are marinated overnight and shallow fried over a specially built thick iron griddle (tawa) until tender. Taas is served with puffed rice, spicy and sour radish pickle, pickled ginger and green chilies that add a piquant crunch and bite.
Chusta (Rs 170) is pan-fried pieces of large intestines of the castrated goat that is crisp on the outside and the fat inside just bursts in your mouth, definitely a dish to be enjoyed piping hot. The vegetarians need not worry because mushrooms, paneer and potatoes are cooked with the same care and detail. There are the usual culprits gracing the Nepali section of the menu: alu sandeko, peanuts, chili chicken, and yes, momos. The mutton ones (Rs 140) of the steamed kind are lush with meaty goodness.
The mutton soup (Rs 80) is delicious. Using mutton bones in a thick tomato and garam masala based broth, it is sinfully delightful, reminiscent of a mulligatawny and absolutely delicious. Add a little squirt of lemon to release the flavours and luxuriate in its thick goodness.
Shiva Piya and Prasanna Shrestha, both originally from Narayanghat started their first Taas restaurant in Teku six years ago. Since then they have opened another outlet in Nagpokhari and this is their third venture. Shiva tells me, "Nepalis love their snacks. Rather than having an extensive menu that offers every type of cuisine, we decided to specialise in what sells. Eating out in Nepal basically means going out for a few drinks accompanied by snacks and then heading home for a dal bhat dinner." Their formula has worked very well. They also place the utmost importance on hygiene and have open kitchens in all three restaurants. "It helps us maintain quality control and encourages the staff to retain cleanliness and order. Also since the patrons can see how the food is prepared, they trust us more," adds Shiva.
How to get there:
In Pulchok, enter the street opposite Namaste Supermarket heading towards Suzuki showroom, about 60 metres in, turn right.