24 Jul 2017
4 min read
Established by Dolly Yakthumba in 2002, Moksh started out with a simple vision that has today expanded to incorporate so much more. The establishment’s focus back then was entirely on food, but today, it places a much greater emphasis on accompanying food with music. Today, at Moksh, music blends in seamlessly with great grub and a pleasant ambience, making the restaurant one of the most popular spaces for concerts, album launches, seminars, etc.
The evolution of Moksh
When the restaurant was first established in Pulchowk (at present-day Ghangri’s premises), it had an extensive and elaborate Continental menu, with Italian dishes as the main highlight. As the restaurant started becoming more popular, it was moved to another—more spacious—premises in Pulchowk. At the new spot, Dolly Yakthumba added another restaurant, Lahsoon (which Dolly established with a partner), inside Moksh’s premises. “While Lahsoon started becoming a popular choice for people when it came to food, Moksh started becoming a crowd favourite for its relaxing space and great music,” says Uttam Balami, manager at Moksh. Balami, who has worked in the hospitality sector for the past 18 years at establishments like Soaltee Crowne Plaza and Radisson Hotel, has been with Moksh since its inception and has witnessed its transformation over the years.
When the new space became too small for both restaurants, Moksh was again moved—to its present location in Jhamsikhel. Here, the Yakthumbhas decided to build on Moksh’s popularity as a restaurant cum event space. They built an auditorium on the ground floor (which can accommodate up to 100 people), and a smaller space, which can accommodate around 40 people, on the first floor—to host small gigs and private concerts. They have also recently added a small stage in the corner of the ground-floor patio for small-scale concerts.
The two-storey restaurant’s spacious deck and garden area—a rarity for restaurants in crowded Kathmandu—has become another point of attraction. The restaurant also features two bars, one on each floor. “Initially, there was only one bar on the first floor. We previously used to have a coffee shop on the ground floor. But because most of our customers prefer sitting in the garden and deck area, we decided to build another bar on the ground floor for them,” says Balami. “We also thought a centre-stage bar added to the overall aesthetics of the place.”
Pawan Adhikari, Moksh’s pizza chef, joined the establishment nine years ago as a kitchen help. In his time here, he has attended several culinary training courses, worked under renowned chefs and risen through the ranks of the establishment. He is the man behind Moksh’s popular pizzas and pastas.
Moksh’s menu features mostly Indian and Continental dishes. The menu is a more refined version of its earlier incarnation, and the dishes on offer are those that the establishment’s patrons have come to prefer over the years. Indian snacks, curries and Hyderabadi biryanis feature on the Indian side, while it is pastas and pizzas that dominate the Continental side. But perhaps the most popular dishes are the pastas and pizzas. There are five different pastas and nine different pizzas (the ninth, Calzone Pizza, doesn’t actually feature on the menu but can be ordered). The pizzas are all prepared in the large firewood oven in the middle of the dining area. And when it comes to curating menus for events hosted at the restaurant, both Adhikari and Balami discuss ideas for the dishes. Depending on the produce available in the market at the time, they finalise the menu.
Adhikari’s signature dish is the Stuffed Chicken Breast served with spinach and bacon with pasta/rice in rosemary sauce. To create the dish, Adhikari first chops spinach, bacon and mushroom and then sautées the mix, which he then stuffs inside the chicken breast. The breast is finally marinated with mustard powder, garlic paste and olive oil for two hours before being grilled.
(Photos by Govinda Maharjan)