KATHMANDU: Manny or Manoj welcomes you at Dhokaima Café. He studied Business Management, worked in an Italian restaurant, found he loved people more than numbers and has been with restaurants in New York ever since including his own.
Since he has taken over Dhokaima he says, “The menu is lighter thanks to Marcela Regan and my job is to see that the food remains delicious and served on time. You can’t do one without the other. I see myself as a facilitator between the kitchen, the staff and my customers.”
And as though to prove it he is called to several places at once and it is as though he is back in New York with a speed and energy only New Yorkers have.
The lighter menu is mostly unusual soups, finger food, salads that make you salivate, traditional sandwiches that get a makeover, a few entrees like
fish and chips, Chinese diced chicken with cashew nuts and barbecue kebabs.
“The menu is short, I did not want the Bible”, says Manny but the customer feels he has an infinite choice.
Try the Spinach Mint Soup. The spinach goes back to its rich origins in Persia in the Middle Ages where it became fashionable in the 17th century because it was new and delicious. The only known person not to like spinach amongst the famous was a fictional Flaubert character who says, “I dislike it and am happy to dislike it because if I like it I would eat it and I can’t stand it”.
But Manny would have him and everyone change their mind about the spinach soup and what makes it delicately different is the mild and mellow and the diffident mint which comes as a gentle infused surprise.
“I try to do things I learnt in New York, that are popular there”, so at Manny’s Manhattan Dhokaima you can actually order half a sandwich and soup so I went for another soup.
Manny’s Vichyssoise, the cold potato and leek soup which was created in the United States by a French Chef is served cold becomes as uniquely Dhokaima as the warren of courtyards and the bar with a tree growing out of it, cosy dining rooms that are all very Nepali. In Manny’s Dhokaima both soups get an Eastern touch, the mint in
one and lemon grass from Thailand in the Vichyssoise. It’s Pacific Rim fusion.
Kamal Gurung brought on the Argula Salad with Pears, Apple and Cheese. And the tastes you get take you from the slightly tart Argula to the sweet pear and French cheeses that are a perfect complement.
I loved the Spinach Salad with Curried Walnuts and Hot Bacon dressing it was the most original thing I have eaten recently. The bacon which Andrew Borde said was good for people in 1542 remains good but is given a work over with a mild vinaigrette and the walnuts which lend themselves to pickling get Marcela’s and Manny’s touch with a curry flavour which means a perfect balance with superb taste. You want more.
I ended by making a pig of myself on pork chop, a little bit of tender delicious cannibalism. It was marinated in Chinese spices but the taste you got besides the tender meat was green garlic and green onion flavour and a thought that said “Hurry Back”.
I intend to. Call Manny’s Dhokaima at 9841677417.