Dining with a view in BauddhaWith a spectacular view of Bauddha stupa, Hotel Tibet International’s Norbulingka Terrace Restaurant has both good food and ambiance.
Placed in the heart of Kathmandu, Bauddha stupa is a bustling area flocked by locals and tourists alike. The spiritual Buddhist atmosphere mingled with Tibetan cuisine and culture—against the backdrop of the iconic Bauddha stupa—has created Bauddha’s own unique image among domestic and international tourists.
The overhead view of the stupa surrounded by Kathmandu’s concrete jungle is a scenery that captures the essence of Bauddha and the expansive view offered from Norbulingka Terrace Restaurant might be the one of the best ways to experience it.
Norbulingka Terrace Restaurant is Hotel Tibet International’s rooftop restaurant and is located on the hotel’s seventh floor. The restaurant shares its space with another one of the hotel’s food and beverage outlets, the 7th Heaven Bar, while the other two eateries—Akama Café and Shambala Tea Garden—are located on the ground floor of the hotel. While the hotel itself was established in 2012, it took seven years for the stunning view of Bauddha offered from the rooftop of the hotel to be combined with a dining experience.
“Initially, the hotel’s restaurant was located on the first floor but we felt that the need of the hour was to set up a restaurant on the rooftop which offered a marvellous view,” says Pradhyumna Ghimire, chief operating officer of Hotel Tibet International.
So in 2019, the restaurant officially opened its door with the name Norbulingka Terrace Restaurant. The ambiance of the restaurant goes hand in hand with the overall Tibetan cultural theme of the Hotel Tibet International. The enormous seven-storied hotel features an impressive architecture speckled with intricate Tibetan motifs and symbolisms. Staff throughout the hotel, including the ones in Norbulingka Terrace Restaurant, wear traditional Tibetan attire and follow Tibetan greetings and customs. The main idea behind the formation of the hotel was to recreate a feeling of being in Tibet, says Ghimire.
While Tibetan culture is in prominence throughout the hotel, the Norbulingka Terrace Restaurant isn’t purely focused on Tibetan cuisine but features a multi cuisine experience. Six months ago, the menu went through a complete redesign based on the visions of Ghimire and executive chef of the restaurant Purushotam Adhikari. The menu is now divided into categories of four distinct cuisines: Tibetan, Continental, Chinese/Thai and North Indian. There are also four head chefs who oversee their own category of cuisine; Sanu Tamang for Tibetan, Ram Bahadur Thapa for Chinese/Thai, Jameel Ahmed for North Indian, and the executive chef Adhikari himself heads the Continental cuisine since it’s his area of culinary expertise.
“A common misconception among people is that the hotel is only built for Tibetan guests or that it only caters to the Tibetan crowd,” says Ghimire. “What we do is create an experience that focuses upon Tibetan culture but our menu design reflects our aspiration to cater to both local and international crowds of customers.”
Ripiene Involtini Di Pollo and Paneer steak are two of the most popular dishes on the menu. Costing Rs895 and Rs695 respectively (excluding taxes), the two dishes hail from the category of Continental cuisine.
“Ripiene Involtini Di Pollo is prepared by stuffing a hollowed out chicken boneless breast with spinach, mushroom, parmesan cheese, red capsicum, fresh herbs (basil, rosemary), salt, and pepper. The chicken breast is then marinated, sauteed and cooked in the oven,” says Purushotam Adhikari.
The dish is a filling and enjoyable dish, its mushroom sauce being the highlight of the dish which combines the overall flavours in the dish. For vegetarians, the Paneer Steak is a favoured option. It’s a simple dish as the paneer is simply seasoned with salt and pepper and pan-fried then cooked in the oven, but the pesto sauce, the base of the dish, helps create a simple yet satisfying dish.
‘Honey Noodles with Ice-cream’ and ‘Roasted Nuts Dates Crispy Pancake’ are the dessert items not to be missed in the menu, while ‘Khasi ko Bhutuwa Kebab’, ‘Jhaneko Duck Choila’, and ‘Kali Daal Makhani’ appeal to the local palate.
“Our most popular Tibetan dish is the Gyakok, a Tibetan hotpot. The dish becomes the talk of the town especially during winters,” says Ghimire. “We also of course have signature dishes of the Tibetan community like thukpa, thenthuk, shabril, phingsha, etc., in the menu.”
While the core area of Bauddha attracts the kind of crowd which craves for local, authentic taste of Tibetan food like momos, shabaley, laphing, and keema noodles, there is an emerging trend of crowds who care not only the taste of the food but also the ambiance of the restaurant, the available scenery, and the overall hygiene of the food.
In the case of sanitation, the restaurant has spared no effort to create a high level of hygienic food standard. As one enters the restaurant, the sight of the open kitchen becomes unmissable, from where one can see exactly how the ingredients are kept and the food is prepared.
“We have our own SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and we have taken the concept of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, a management system to ensure food safety through various stringent steps) and recreated their standards,” says Ghimire. “Our priority is to serve our guests good, authentic, and hygienic food.”
The restaurant is still reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic but the road ahead brims with hope as events and gatherings ease back into their normal routines and frequency.
“During the pandemic, events like marriage went ahead in limited capacity but many other occasions like anniversaries, bratabandha, and corporate events were put on hold,” says Ghimire. “Now that things are returning to normalcy, all of the events that were put on hold are now flooding the hospitality industry which is a good sign.”
The pandemic-induced lockdowns forced many hospitality industries to realign their customer approach with many of them focusing instead on the local crowds, an approach adopted by Norbulingka Terrace Restaurant as well.
“People might have the perception of Norbulingka Terrace Restaurant as being expensive but once they visit and experience the level of service and the ambiance, the quality of food, and enjoy the view, they feel that the value is worth the price,” asserts Ghimire.
Ghimire has also seen a trend emerging in the type of international tourists visiting the Boudhha area, which has made him more hopeful for the area’s hospitality industry in the long-run.
“Before the pandemic, two segments of international tourists, MICE(Meeting Incentive Conference and Exhibitions) and adventure/expedition segments, were really growing,” says Ghimire. “We aren’t able to predict where the trends of tourism will head but the hustle and bustle of the Thamel area for international tourists has definitely dissipated and one of the areas where it has shifted is the Bauddha area.”