Nitesh Sharma is the Head of Sales at Kaymu and Founder of Dhaasoo. Apart from work, he is a part time writer, enjoys travelling, loves music, explores new dimensions to life and is a big time foodie
My affair for Indian food started from Chandigarh, during my good old college days — rich creamy curries, fluffy Naan from the tandoor, fiery Butter Chicken, mouthwatering Biryani to name a few.
I didn’t have high hopes from Mela, yet was waiting to be surprised.
To my surprise, I was the first one and probably the last one to dine during lunch hours. The walls inspired from Bollywood as I could see movie posters were gloomy for my liking. Yet, tables were neatly set up with brass and stainless steel crockery/cutlery. There was a stage set up for live music for evenings. Overall, not too exciting ambience for youngsters.
Food time — the menu had almost everything available which was impressive. Appetiser first — I ordered a mix vegetable soup. The order was quick; the soup looked promising with broccoli, mushrooms and other veggies. First sip and disappointment! Boiled vegetables without seasoning. Time to order another one — sweet corn, the taste was bang on. I could taste sweetness of the baby corns and the soup’s consistency was perfect. Now I had a gut feeling my lunch wasn’t going to be too bad.
Starter time, I ordered a Paneer Seekh Kebab. Presentation was okay, but the taste was disappointment at its peak! Paneer was doughy and undercooked, I called the server; he took it back and reheated. Not that I liked the idea, second try — thwarted!
Fading hopes, it was time to hit the main course. Ordered Kulcha, Paneer Butter Masala, a veg Biryani and Chicken Curry (their speciality) as suggested by the server. Minutes later, he informed Kulcha was not possible so I opted for Aloo Parantha. Owing to the gas crisis the orders were still prompt, so hats off to the kitchen blokes.
Brief chat between orders, the server told how he wasn’t happy with his job and wanted to quit. Enough talks and it was time to feast, fingers crossed. I started with Parantha, which was a complete mess — undercooked. Paneer Butter Masala didn’t look appealing either, the taste was equally appalling — bland with stale paneer. Chicken Curry was spiced well, creamy texture, perfectly cooked chicken yet not the best. “Speciality,” they’d said. I wonder if that was the right word for it.
Finally it was Biryani time, all hopes dead by then. To my surprise, Biryani was out of the league — rice cooked beautifully, perfectly spiced and presented. The spices weren’t overpowering my taste buds and all was in harmony. Kudos to the chefs!
It was time to call for the cheque, prompt service with a 10 per cent discount, not bad as a first timer!
Overall my visit to Mela turned out to be a food circus trip! Final verdict — disappointed. I had lows most of the time during the meal and could never enjoy the whole experience. My quest to taste authentic Indian food here in Nepal still continues.
MELA RESTAURANT RATINGS
Quality of service: 4
Value for money: 4
A version of this article appears in print on January 28, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.