Justine de Jonge is a Melbourne freelance travel writer and blogger who loves travelling the vegan road. She also loves blogging about her vegan travels at www.fireandtea.com .
Published December 23rd 2012
Update February 16th 2018
PLEASE NOTE: This venue is permanently closed and no longer operating
Authentic Nepalese cuisine in Boronia
Guests don't need to climb the highest peaks in Nepal to find authentic Nepalese cuisine. They only need to climb one flight of stairs in the heart of Boronia.
Nestled back from the corner of Boronia Road and Dorset Road is Namaste Nepal. It's a small restaurant located on the second level of a non-descript rental block, towering above Boronia and offering eastern Melbourne a destination for Nepalese cuisine.
While its furniture styling is plain and functional, Namaste Nepal's complementary décor is what brings The Himalayas to Boronia. Colourful prayer flags fly above diners' heads in long strands, as if you're sitting in the shadows of Bodhnath Stupa. Frames hang from the walls, bringing memories from faraway Nepal to dine-in guests – Mount Everest and Annapurna Pass. Framed spheres of mandala art are scattered throughout. A strand of incense smoke burns from a stick at reception and wafts through the dining area to the beat of Nepali folk music drumming in the background.
What epitomises Nepalese cooking is the quintessential momo – traditional steamed dumpling filled with finely diced vegetables, flavoured with coriander and garlic, and served with a spicy, peanut sauce. Four plump momos arrive soon after ordering and, together with a straw basket of hot papadums, make for a light start to the meal.
Another basket, filled with doughy babar, arrives steaming together with ivory-white rice. Our waitress serves us baigun aloo, soft eggplant and potato pieces smothered in lightly spiced, tomato gravy. A Nepalese meal would not be complete without a sister serving of dal, lentil-based stew. Tonight, it's sag dal, or lentils and spinach.
What sets Nepalese dal apart from its Indian counterpart is a runnier, broth-like consistency; perfect for saturating babar and rice. A bowl of chew fry, sautéed mushrooms, ginger and garlic, gives the meal a satisfying finish, providing guests with a decent-sized dinner without being made to feel bloated, overfed or overcharged. If guests are pining for a small, sweet finish, then a teeny serve of rato mohan, fried cottage cheese balls, is a tempting choice.
A generous banquet menu is available for guests who want to sample a variety of choices. Prices for all menu items are very cheap, and weekly dine-in discounts are applied generously. Take-away is also on hand for the busier patrons in the area.
I had heard of this place and being a fellow Nepali, decided to take my partner and some friends to try Nepalese food.
My partner who's an Aussie with obvious discerning taste liked it so much we went back again with her parents and sister a couple of weeks later. I could see that they loved it too and we're planning to go back again with more friends and neighbours.
Entrees- we had meat & vegetable momos which was juicy and quite nice and pan fried chicken liver (to go with our beer as the menu recommends). My partner who has had a bad childhood experience with liver tried it and couldn't get enough.
Mains- we tried several vegetarian & meat dishes and it was received well by everybody. My personal favourite was the stir fry goat dish (26).
Side dishes- some of them comes in mains too but I liked the option of trying different dishes. Don't forget to order Dal Jhaneko (54) to go with your rice. Talking about rice the saffron rice laced with cumin seeds was quite a delight. I would recommend Nepalese Babar (bread) too.
What I liked about the place was the menu is authentic. The food is simple and homely and stays true to our taste. The dishes we tried weren't overdone with spices as restaurants sometimes tend to do. The prices are also very reasonable.
I met with the Prakash daju, the owner who also happens to be the cook & part time waiter. He provided us with excellent service and food.
If you happen to go there say 'Namaste Prakash Daju (if he's older than you) or Prakash Bhai (if younger) and he'll look after you well :)
Sounds like you had an amazing meal. I absolutely love it because of the same reasons you've outlined. My last visit made me wish I was back in Nepal! We did have the babar and I could've sworn the rice was red rice. I wasn't too sure as we were told it's not normally exported outside India/Nepal.