There are three things you need to know about dining at Bhojan Griha: 1) getting there can be tricky, 2) the quality of the food is not to be worried about, and 3) work on your whistles.

 


I refuse to admit that I am terrible with directions, which is why I am going to blame the restaurant’s location for me having to take an unnecessary tour around Putalisadak. Housed on a humongous property, you will find Bhojan Griha on the second right when heading towards Putalisadak chowk from the main intersection of Dillibazaar. There is a signboard placed at the mouth of the alley indicating the restaurant’s existence, but it is very easy to miss, which explains my earlier statement. The eatery is tucked away around 100 meters inside. I later found out that almost anyone in Dillibazaar could have directed me to the place. If only I had known about it earlier! This piece of information will probably come in handy while planning a visit to the restaurant, which you will after you’ve done reading this article.


The grand building can be intimidating. I stood outside the equally grand wrought iron gate for a minute or two before I was confident that I was in the right place. The building used to be a palace belonging to the high priest of the royal family. 107 years old, it was only in the year 1997 that Bharat Basnet, the owner of the eatery, decided to revive the abandoned palace. What used to be a dark hole of rickety stairs, moss-laden walls, and termite-infested wood was transformed into a full running restaurant within a year. Sixteen years down the road, I am here to find out what the fuss is really about and whether it still retains the charm of the old days.


Dinner at Bhojan Griha starts a little before seven. We were scheduled for a set dinner, which is a four-course meal, consisting of starters, soup, the main course, and dessert. We were seated in the Putali Hall on the second floor, which is as smartly set as the rest of the four halls. On our way in, a rather heavy brass jar poured out water for us to wash our hands. We took a table in the far-end next to the long windows. It allowed a cool summer breeze from the outside to come in, along with a few uninvited guests expecting a bloody feast.
Once we had chosen our drinks, we were offered aila, a traditional home-brewed alcohol. The first of the starters reached our table then. It was Popcorn, with a touch of butter, which is always a welcome appetizer.

Next was Aalu Jeera; an unfaltering partnership of cumin and potatoes. The heat and kick of cumin gels well with the sweet potatoes, bringing out the best result one can wish for. The final starter was Chicken Momo. One word of advice: you need to let the waitress know if you want a vegetarian dinner in advance.


The soup that arrived was Kwati ko suruwa, a Newari dish made out of various sprouted beans. The portion was small but adequate, considering the rest of the course awaiting us. The main course was a typical Nepali thali, consisting of plain boiled rice, lentil soup, three types of curries (mushroom, chicken and potato), a side of tomato pickle with a hint of timur, fried fish, and green vegetables. It was a sumptuous meal, pleasing both to the taste and the heart. For dessert, a very sweet yogurt called Sikarni was served. The almost custard like dish was the perfect end to the entire dining experience.


The first of many cultural programs had kicked off by the end of the starter. The live singing was paired with cultural dances from the Gurung, Magar, Sherpa, and Newar communities. After each break, the team would return again with a new performance, allowing the guests to enjoy the food and the presence of their companions. A round of applause, cheers, and whistles followed each performance. Some of the guests were excited enough to join the dancing themselves. Which brings me to my third point - learning to whistle. I wanted to, but since I can’t, I was left wishing I could.


In a nutshell, Bhojan Griha, with its history, culture, ambience, and authentic food makes for an ideal destination for an overall Nepali dining experience, one that should be felt first hand.


“The cultural performances keep changing everyday. No evening is the same,” shared Samir K.C., the manager of the restaurant.