New Loveland restaurant features the food of Nepal, India
All of a sudden, Loveland has gone from zero to two restaurants serving Nepalese food.
Durbar Nepalese and Indian Bistro opened Aug. 6 in the elaborately ornamented building at 1525 W. Eisenhower Blvd. that was the home until June of Oceans Bistro, and before that, China Dragon and Great Wall buffet.
“So far it’s going crazy. It’s been nonstop since Day One,” said Sanjeev Karki, co-owner of the restaurant. “We need to hire more people. We didn’t know what to expect.”
The three owners of the restaurant are from Nepal: Hari Tamang, who runs the front of the restaurant; Dipak Budhathoki, the head chef; and Karki, the president of the corporation “who glued everybody together.”
Durbar Nepalese and Indian Bistro follows by seven months the launch of Himalayan Curry & Kebob at 1518 N. Madison Ave. on Jan. 18. That restaurant, also owned by natives of Nepal, is a branch of the restaurant by the same name in Estes Park.
Although Karki said this is his first foray into the ownership of a restaurant, he’s working in conjunction with the owners of the Durbar Nepalese Indian Bistros in Lakewood and Winter Park.
Karki, who keeps a keen eye on online reviews of the new restaurant, said people have been enjoying the food and coming back for more.
“For a lot of people who never had Indian food, it’s ‘wow!’” he said. “They have in mind that Indian food, Nepali food, is going to be spicy.
And while the food definitely is cooked with an array of spices — which he said are beneficial to health — “it’s not like spicy hot. You’re not going to sweat.”
Karki said Nepal, which borders India on the north, has a simpler cuisine than its neighbor to the south.
“It’s a mountainous country. We didn’t have access to lots of different spices and things in the past,” he said.
“Nepali food is simpler. In Nepal, we just eat rice, some kind of curry, lentil soup, vegetables … maybe some bread,” he said. “Indian food will have lots of different spices and different techniques they learned from England being there.”
One of Durbar’s most popular Nepalese dishes is momo, a traditional dumpling filled with chicken or vegetables.
“In Nepal, that’s like our street food. In Nepal, every corner store has it,” Karki said.
On the Indian side of Durbar’s offerings, he said the butter chicken is the most popular entrée — shredded chicken cooked in a tandoor oven and served with a mildly spiced creamy tomato sauce. The tandoor-cooked kebabs also are popular, he added.
Additionally, the menu offers an extensive selection of vegetarian dishes.
The bistro has a bar and is serving just beer for the time being, Karki said, but will expand to a full cocktail menu in the future. The restaurant can seat 75 in the main area and another 50 in a separate space that is reservable for events and large groups. The owners are waiting for city approval before opening the patio, Karki said.
Although Karki said he loves Colorado’s mountains and they remind him of home, they aren’t the reason he came to Colorado.
He moved from Nepal to the Bay Area of California in 1997 to go to college, he said. That’s where he met his wife, Krystal (Harris), who was born in Loveland and attended Immanuel Lutheran School before moving out of state for her high school years.
“My wife has wanted to move here the last five or six years,” Karki said, and he had grown tired of the pace of life and cost of living in the San Francisco area.
“Last year, my son was going to start high school … I thought if I don’t do it now, it might never happen, so we just packed up and left,” he said.
Karki said he has lots of experience working in Indian restaurants in the Bay Area but never owned one. One aspect of the restaurant world he experienced in San Francisco, he’d like to reproduce here if possible. Curry Without Worry is a San Francisco-based nonprofit started by a friend from Nepal that serves the hungry vegan Nepalese food every Tuesday.
“This is something we’re thinking of in this area, too,” he said.
Karki said he learned how to cook from his mother.
“Back home, growing up, most of the time the men don’t do anything (around the house),” he said. “So my mom was strict. She said, ‘Hey, you need to learn how to cook.’ She taught me how to cook when I was little. She said, ‘If you learn to cook, you won’t be hungry.’”
Source: Reporter Herald
Published on Lokantar on 4 September 2019