Dubby Bhagat

Kathmandu

Basant Basnet is family. His wife Seema worked with me for many years and wherever Basant went we all followed. So when he invited us to The Four Seasons in Thamel which is opposite KC’s we went and took a window seat and watched the world go by as dish after dish made us wonder why we hadn’t discovered The Four Seasons earlier. Owned by the Subbas, Apinya and Kubir (she’s Thai and he’s Nepali) The Four Seasons is about love and marriage in Brunei where Apinya was the Sultan’s Thai Chef and Kubir was a member in high standing of the Sultan’s household.

‘’The Sultan’s favourite dish was steamed fish in a spicy sauce and lobster in a sweet and sour dressing’’ said Apinya, ‘’But he always begins his meals with the Papaya Salad.”

The Sultan of Brunei has very good taste beca-use the Papaya Salad with its crunchy peanuts, dried shrimps and chopped papaya in a uniquely sour and spicy sauce made the evening begin on a piquant note. “We left Brunei and came to Kathmandu and started the restaurant two years ago. We wanted to educate our children Kris and Ken in Nepal,” said Apinya as she brought the Thai Chicken Salad.

Crisp celery and a tingling of Thai herbs caressed the deep fried chicken and our taste buds. We did not know whether the Chicken Satay which also appeared, with its special herbed flavour and its laid back peanut sauce was tastier so we devoured them both. Far be it from us to discriminate when it comes to good taste. ‘’There are six or seven Thai restaurant in Kathmandu, four have Thai Chefs and we all know each other, we are a part of a community,’’ said Apinya serving the fried fish with chili sauce, slightly dry and the hint of fresh coriander would have pleased the Sultan as much as it delighted us.

We were cared for by a ballet of waiters including Pradip Khadki and Rakesh Bhanjara who knew their food and served the large fried rice noodles with pork along with the Massaman Curry with chicken. The noodles and pork are bound together by an aromatic sauce and the Massaman Chicken Curry has a flavor of onion and peanuts and coconut milk. Potatoes contrast with the softness of the chicken. “You can make the curry hotter with chilies in vinegar,” said Apinya and she and a guest talked of the Chili Market outside Bangkok. The restaurant has a small but select menu of Indian dishes made by Chef Ram Krishna Shrestha who learnt his craft under the great Indian Master Chef Raman who was in Kathmandu in the 80’s. Ram Krishna’s Chicken Ke Sule which is a rare kind of Tandoori Kabab, was tender juicy and faintly spiced so as not to drown the taste of the chicken. Chef Raman himself could not have done better with the Chicken Butter Masala with its Tandoori Chicken in a thick tomato and spice gravy finished with cream and it was as delicious as the best I have ever eaten. Basanta recommended the Sukuti or Nepali dried meat which came in a sort of spiced achar of tomatoes and onions in a sprinkling of lemon and was the most unusual Sukuti I have ever had. The Four Seasons has a set Nepali menu and the Khasi Ko Masu on it is delicious with cummin as a high note.

I have kept the best for the last. The Tom Yam Koong was declared fantastic by my guest who spends a great deal of time in Thailand. I am also the recipient of faxes from Bangkok from Mr Puranitee, which are newspaper articles headlined “Tom yam Koong a day keeps cancer away, says study.” Apparently, the lemon grass and the kaffir lime leaves are a 100 times more effective in inhibiting tumours than those found in other foods. But we weren’t thinking of studies as we wallowed in Tom Yam Koong and even went so far as to ask for more. Very Chinese, eating the soup last. The only sad note was the one where Apinya Subba said that when the kids grew up the Subba family would move to Australia for colleging. Fortunately the children are nine and five years old. Hopefully Basant Basnet will stick around for the course. You can contact him at 4701715, 4701545.