Atypical setting that specializes in food and only food – Chinese – is next to the Skoda Showroom in Thapathali and goes by the name Tian Rui. Adorned by Chinese lanterns on the outside, the entrance is expectedly done in red doormats and leads to three directions – right, left and upstairs. As you go to the right, you pass through the cash counter (which you’d pretty much wish you didn’t), while left and straight up both lead to seating arrangements almost identical to the right. A basic not-so-inviting setting greets you on either sides – tables laid with plastic covers, upright chairs and a seemingly bare floor – simple yet tidy.

5 Ws

Where’s it located?
Thapathali, next to Skoda Showroom
What to wear?
No dress code
Why drop in?
Chinese – food only
When to visit?
I recommend dinners for
How much to carry?
A thousand and a half for two
with taxes
My Ratings

A huge bit of a disappointment comprised of my material expectations of the place - Tian Rui came highly recommended. However, not as disheartened as I would generally be, I placed orders to the kind, patient and helpful service staff at my table. The first thing that struck me pleasantly about the menu was that they had graded the food items on basis of how spicy each would be. And I scanned properly to make sure that we were having a medley of plain and real spicy food.

The round of appetizer constituted Spicy Fried Corns and Bong Bong Chicken. The corns were crunchy and the batter was properly adequate. Done with bits of bell peppers, chili peppers, carrots and beans, the overall taste rendered was beautifully diverse – sweet and salty, crunchy and spicy. The Bong Bong Chicken came with an utterly spicy footnote (if I may) on the menu. Chicken shreds with garlic cloves, Chinese peppers and a lot of coriander stalks, struck a note with my expectations. The bitter soy sauce that had adequately seeped in into the shreds of braised chicken gave a juicy hint while the spices faithfully balanced the bitterness with a strong aromatic presence and the coriander helped keep the palate fresh despite heavy intake of garlic.

High were my expectations sailing when the main course arrived, so I subjected it to a ruthless examination. The first thing about the Sichuan Chicken that hit the palate was the peppery twist. The semi-viscose sauce rich in fermented flavors was enhanced by the zesty hint of Chinese peppers and the fresh aroma of green peppers added to the edge. The Chili Garlic Prawns however, were a failure. The bell peppers were undercooked, so the only thing the whole food smelled like was a bowl of fresh-cut peppers. The prawns were not extraordinary either – but well above-average. Cast in a firm batter, the moisture of the prawns were sealed off quite well and the serving was commendably portioned. Thanks to the service guy who recommended Fried Green Vegetables, we had a balanced mix of veggies and poultry with the rice. The Fried Green Vegetables are not actually fried; the Pak Choy, black mushrooms and carrots come in a luscious oyster sauce-soy sauce-corn flour mix and serve apt as rice accompaniments.   

My Verdict
A t-shirt in Thamel read Good looks cost a lot of money; of course they do but putting up a presentable show is as important. A multi-million play isn’t going to bring you an audience if you have no content, neither is a street play going to if you can’t sell it. Substance and style go hand in hand. That probably explains why despite their recommendations for reservations, domestic crowd is a rare sight at Tian Rui. The food largely scores well but the ambience must be worked on if they want deep-pocketed Kathmanduites around.!

Furnishings   Basic and typical
Ambiencee   You’d be least captivated
Cutlery   General and proper
Service   Well-informed on the menu, good at suggestions
Restroom   Clean and good enough
Overall   (and a half) for the food and some for the service