29 Jan 2018
3 min read
If you take a walk along Lazimpat’s main thoroughfare, you will be taken aback by the sheer number of restaurants, pubs and cafes that line the street. A recent addition to the neighbourhood is Alpas, a multi-cuisine restaurant that joined the growing number food and beverage businesses in Lazimpat nine months ago. We paid the establishment a visit to sample their most popular dishes.
Alpas is on the ground floor of a commercial complex. The restaurant’s interiors are warm and welcoming. Most sections of the walls have been painted warm yellow, and feature woodworks that are illuminated by warm yellow lights. Although it’s a small standalone restaurant, Alpas can accommodate 100-120 people, and offers plenty of seating options: a lounge-style seating with comfortable sofas and low tables, a table-and-chair seating area, a sit-on-the-floor area, two private dining rooms and a meeting room.
The far end of the restaurant also has a small bar. Behind the bar is a children’s play area. The walls of the play area are covered with stickers of adorable animals, trees, colourful fishes, blue clouds. To keep patrons’ children busy, the area also has seesaws and a portable basketball hoop. “When there are children playing in the play area, we make sure that there’s always a staff manning the area,” says Prakash Chaudhary,
Alpas’ multi-cuisine menu covers a rather substantial spectrum: thali in the Nepali section, biryani in the Indian section, pak choi with white mushroom in the Chinese section and sizzler in the Continental section. The menu also has a section, though limited, dedicated for breakfast. But the snacks section has more than plenty to choose from.
On our visit, we started with the Shrimp Cocktail. The dish is Alpas’ head chef, Surya Prasad Chaulagain’s, signature dish. As the name suggests, the dish is served in a martini glass, which is half filled with a dip made of tomato ketchup and mayonnaise and topped with chopped lettuce. Dunked inside the dip are chopped olives and slices of boiled eggs, and five cold shrimps are placed on the glass’s rim. The shrimp is creamy, the dip sweet and the olives lend a tangy twist. The dish is served with a piece of airy garlic bread, which is so puffy that when you bite into it, it’s like biting into air.
For the main course, we’d recommend you go with the Seafood in Hot Pan. The dish is made of squid, prawn and bhetki fish, which is marinated (in salt and pepper and rosemary herb), dipped in a wheat-flour batter and then deep fried. The dish is served with sauteed noodles and topped with szechuan sauce. The fish is fried just right, and as you bite into it, the outer layer crackles and reveals meat that is moist and soft. The szechuan sauce, with its fried chilli flakes and seeds, looks deceptively fiery, but actually adds to the dish just the right touch of spiciness, which complements the meat and the well-cooked noodles. Just when you get too familiar with the flavour, you will most likely bite into a star anise, which adds a sweet, minty flavour. This, Chaulagain says, is what he means by “adding a twist to his dishes to make them his own”.
Another signature dish that makes for a great main course is the Chicken Cashew Nut, which is served with noodles. For the dish, chopped cashew nuts are placed inside a chunk of chicken. The chicken is then marinated in salt, pepper, szechuan sauce and sesame oil and then deep fried. The dish’s coating is crispy and light, and the chicken tender. Then there’s the Naan Chizza, another signature dish, and one of Alpas’ more popular dishes. If you have ever imagined an Indian twist to the Italian pizza, then it is highly likely it will taste like the Naan Chizza. For this dish, Chaulagain uses four pieces of naan, tops them with shredded chicken, cheese, chopped onion, butter, cream, tomato paste, cumin and coriander powder and then bakes them for 20 minutes in the oven.
Food isn’t the only thing Alpas focuses exclusively on. “We are here to give our customers a great dining experience. And at Alpas, we believe that this starts right from the parking. We have a spacious parking space, a rarity for a restaurant in Lazimpat. Once our patrons enter the restaurant, they are greeted by attentive and knowledgeable staff,” says Chaudhary. “And although we are located on a very premium street, our dishes are priced moderately. We want to cater to people from all tiers.” In order to attract office-goers in the area, Alpas recently launched a special weekday (Sunday to Friday) lunch menu. The menu has five vegetarian-dish options just for Rs 155 and five non-veg options for Rs 255. And during the restaurant’s Weekday Happy Hour Special (3 pm to 6 pm), patrons get a 30 per cent discount on food and drinks.
Chaulagain started his career working at a popular Tibetan restaurant called Yak Restaurant in Thamel. It’s at this restaurant that he learned the basics of cooking. After two years at Yak, he joined a restaurant in Durbar Marg, where he worked for six years, and learned to make Indian and Continental dishes. Chaulagain joined Alpas 10 months ago and has been heading the kitchen since. His love for experimenting with dishes has resulted in his making dishes like Naan Chizza and several other signature dishes that now feature on the restaurant’s menu. “There’s a lot you can learn just from YouTube as well. And whenever I hear that a restaurant in the city is serving something new, I make it a point to go and taste,” says Chaulagain. “The secret to a great dish is always fresh ingredients, no matter what spices you use; if the ingredients are not fresh, the dish can never be as good as it could be.”