Bú Kebá provides quality organic fare in a delightfully rustic environment.
The first thing that struck me on entering Bú Kebá in Bakhundole, Lalitpur, was the amount of care and effort that has gone into the décor. It’s lovely and rustic, and everywhere you turn there are seating areas just beckoning you to come in, sit down, and relax. In addition to indoor and outdoor tables, you can sit under a tented canopy, or climb the stairs to a relaxed upper seating area, which is private and beautiful with cushions on the floor and delicate curtains blowing in the breeze around you. The overall effect of the place is reminiscent of an upscale jungle lodge; the kind of place you would like sit and relax all day, a peaceful atmosphere to unwind in.
Bú Kebá was opened five years ago by Rekha Khetan and specializes in organic cuisine. She told us that they try to ensure that at least 60-75% of all the ingredients used in their kitchen are completely organic. One way that they have done this is by developing relationships with and sourcing directly from farmers in various villages and districts; this has the dual benefit of both ensuring that Bú Kebá knows exactly where the food they serve is coming from and also allowing the farmer to get a better price for his product by selling to them directly. As an example, the buckwheat—used in Bú Kebá’s signature dishes of pancakes and mo:mo—comes from Upper Mustang. And while of course this focus on healthy ingredients is all well and good, it wouldn’t matter if the food wasn’t tasty – fortunately for us all, it is!
We began our meal with the Masala Fish, one of the dishes from this week’s special menu. In addition to the restaurant’s regular menu, specials are also offered on a rotating basis with new items each week. I’m a real fish lover, and I’m happy to tell you that this is one great dish. Steaks of rahu fish were cooked to perfection—still moist and tender—and topped with a spicy, crunchy topping of finely shredded spring onions and spices, predominantly jwano. I was afraid the spices might overwhelm the fish but instead it provided a perfect, delicious balance. The portion was generous too, which was a good thing as it was so tasty we all kept reaching for more.
The second dish we tried was from the normal menu, Paneer Tika—again, I was impressed by the generous portion size: large, tasty chunks of spiced paneer served with a fantastic fresh and tangy mint sauce. This was a great vegetarian dish and while looking through the menu I was impressed by the good selection and choice available here—if you’re a vegetarian I think you’ll be pleased to find that the options here are different from what everyone else is serving. The Buckwheat Spinach Pancake with mushrooms and mozzarella looked particularly tasty.
After the paneer we dug in to the Pizza “Diavola,” topped with jalapeno slices, black olives, and chilli flakes. Spices and more chilli are provided on the side so that you can spice up your slice even more if you want to. Pizzas seem to be a popular item with customers here, and we really enjoyed ours. Among the choices is also Goat Cheese Pizza, as well as a Tandoori Pizza, both of which looked excellent, and if you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, there’s always the option of customizing your own pizza from the list of toppings on offer.
Our last dish from the specials menu was the Timbur Chicken, cooked with celery and highly seasoned with timbur and other spices. This is a great choice for those who like spicy food, and like much of what we tasted, would make a perfect snack with something cold to drink as you relax in the evening. The pleasantly mouth-numbing effect of the timbur with the juicy chicken made this a dish that we all really enjoyed, and it’s something a little different from the usual Chicken Chilli or other chicken snacks.
There’s so much variety in what’s on offer in the menu here that I would highly recommend ordering a selection of dishes to share with friends rather than each person getting their own meal, so that everyone can have the opportunity to try some of the more out-of-the-ordinary things that are served here. Krishna Khatri, Executive Chef at Bú Kebá, oversees a team of five chefs that each focus on different cuisines and they have certainly done an amazing job of creating and serving a menu that brings variety and tastiness to the local dining scene.
Currently Bú Kebá is open from 12 noon to 10:30 pm, though Rekha Khetan told us they will soon be open for breakfast, too. Every Friday there’s a live band with Shrijana Tandukar, featuring Sufi music.
Bú Kebá takes its name from two Newari words—Bú meaning a large paddy farm and Kebá which is a small vegetable garden like you might have at home. Somehow this sums up their intent to bring farm to table in a way that is not only healthy but also delicious. This is a place that is definitely worth a visit. You won’t be disappointed.