Where to eat, continued
Last week was remarkable in that I met two pure vegetarians who were not foreigners. (A foreign Buddhist or yoga person is more likely to be vegetarian than a local Hindu or Buddhist.)
Ravi is a Nepali by way of India (family of Marwari Jains), and Nikesh is an Indian Brahmin who owns a business in Nepal. Naturally, the subject came up: where do you eat?
Most places in town accomodate vegetarians well. But for the purist, there are very few dedicated vegetarian restaurants. In this case, dedicated means not even having meat products on premises. In the strictest sense ("Pure Veg" as they say in south India), it means not even using eggs.
Thamel's Israel-Middle Eastern restaurant, OR2K, is veg but uses lots of egg. Newari and other Nepali restaurants will make a veg set meal, but sometimes cook items in the same pan that's used to cook meat, resulting in ingestion of meat essences and flavours.
With branches in many parts of town (Putalisadak, New Road) and a main hall at Tripureshwor right by Bluebird, Angan is probably the best all-around pure veg restaurant in town. They cover a range of Indian cuisines from North to South to West (Gujarati dhokla!) to East (Bengali sandesh sweets) and have a large, airy, clean dining hall up and downstairs in Tripureshwor. The other locations are more cramped and have more limited selections. Their Rava Dosa Plain is exceptional, the sambar great. They are a branch of (I think) India's Bikanerwala.
Not surprisingly, the pure-veg restaurants in town are all (as far as I know) Indian-owned. My favourite is Trishna Mitai in Lazimpat, before Shangri La. They are Bengali-owned (telltale icon of Dakshineswar over the counter) but do feature good south Indian dishes such as Uttappam and Idly, as well as samosa-chat-chai. I especially like the grandmother who sits in a chair behind the corner and gives me a beautiful smile. She never fails to wear sari and a pure chandan hand-painted tilak.
Two more pure veg Indian shoppes are Dudh Sagar on Kantipath, just opposite Mandala Books (they do have idly, wada, dosa and uttappam!) and Bandar's, a Rajasthani-owned small diner off New Road by Pyukhan Marg. Bandar's may be the only place in town to try Rajasthani Thali.
One Thamel spot that guarantees they use no egg is Shree Lal's House of Vegetarian. Though they seem very sincere, the food I got (dal makhani) was mediocre.
Two more sources of veg food (don't know whether they use egg, though) are the Kopan Monastery canteen way up on Kopan hill, and the Rabsel guesthouse run by Shechen Monastery. In Thamel there's also the old standby Pilgrim's Bookstore Cafe - always shanti, always veg - and the Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Centre cafe which has now moved to Tridevi Marg near Kesar Mahal.
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