KATHMANDU: I have always wondered how it felt to wander the wild streets of Kathmandu and enjoy that food you always wanted to devour. I must confess that although I was born in Kathmandu and lived here till I was eighteen, I have wandered around and have lived only for two years or so in the last decade. So technically I have become a visitor to my own hometown and now I hope I’d stay for long but can’t promise anything. Nothing has changed except the roads, somehow. And there’s dust in the air that envelopes you time to time. One of my friends gave a new name to the city: Dustmandu (The city of dust).

So you already know I am not the best person to tell you about the best places to eat in Kathmandu. The only thing you can know for me is the four and five-month experiences I have had so far. These past months I have eaten in several places around Kathmandu and have noticed three things so far: hygiene, cost and customer service. I must say, unfortunately, that most restaurants and cafes perform badly in the aforementioned areas.

The first type of restaurants and cafes are the cheap ones where it is clear that everything is substandard and you must take the risk to fill your stomach and not fall sick. Till now, luckily, I haven’t fallen sick. Thanks to my immunity. Don’t forget I grew up here! But if you come from a developed nation or a place where you grew up with low immunity then I suggest that you do not try these kind of cafes. But if you want to give a try then you’re welcome. There are hospitals in Kathmandu.

The second type of restaurants is suited for middle-income people. I have visited few and most of them have overcharge with bad customer service. In two restaurants at Naxal, the food and customer service were horrible and sub-standard. I just didn’t understand why the business people could do that. They do not have any conscience or shame to cheat the customers and not understand the fact that they wouldn’t return again. In short, most people who run restaurants and cafes in Tinkune, Baneshwor, Naxal, Koteshwor, New Baneshwor, and Old Baneshwor are kind of shameless to hoodwink customers. At a Thakali restaurant in Naxal, I and my girlfriend were forced to pay for a bottle of water. The price was 80 Nepali rupees. I was left in jitters. It really hit me hard. And we’ve decided not to visit those restaurants again.

The third type of restaurants, I guess, are expensive and five-star hotels and it is meant for foreigners and high-income people. How many people are rich in Nepal who can afford such places to eat daily? Not many. That’s why most people in Kathmandu prefer to eat at home then spend money at restaurants and cafes that are expensive and loot you for no satisfaction in return.

Sometimes I do not understand why this kind of restaurants and cafes exist in Kathmandu. I have tried to understand from the perspectives of business people. Maybe it’s difficult for them in many ways but still there should be professionalism in what they do. Maybe because there are no policies to regulate them and I guess the Food Department if it exists, does not function properly. Perhaps it is because customers do not say anything or report about it. They don’t complain. That has been one of the major problems of Nepali society. It is good to be carefree but not to the extent that you suffer in the end.

I only have a good experience at The Factory in Thamel where the burger was relatively cheap and tasty. I do not recommend anyone to drink outside. It will leave you broke. I have hardly drunk at bars in Kathmandu. So these days I am busy musing on the fact that I should rather eat at home then go out and spend money on something substandard, unhygienic and face bad customer service. But we love to eat out, right? So I take risks and try to find the good places to eat. I do have found a good restaurant in one of the alleys at New Baneshwor and one in Patan. I think most good places to eat in Kathmandu are almost hidden and unknown.

Therefore, you need to explore and find out on your own. Now that’s the beauty and charm of eating out in Kathmandu. Do your homework.