13 Feb 2018
3 min read
Bustling Kumaripati offers a smorgasbord of options for the adventurous foodie. However, if you are in the mood for Chinese fusion (that too at a reasonable price) then Sesame Restaurant is the only place to be.
Subash Rajkarnikar and Mani Shrestha, partners and managers of Sesame, established the restaurant with the intention of introducing the intricate flavours of Chinese cuisine to locals of Kumaripati, a place that lacks many decent Chinese restaurants. However, rather than merely presenting Chinese dishes, they decided to create a niche for themselves in the market by introducing Chinese-fusion foods.
Before establishing Sesame, almost 10 years ago, Rajkarnikar and Shrestha had wanted to get into the restaurant business, and had plans to open Chopstix Chinese and Continental Cuisine, with two other partners. However, there was a change in the management and things didnít work out for the duo. It was only recently that Rajkarnikar and Shrestha decided to re-ignite their long-held dream, and thus opened Sesame. They found a chef who specialised in Chinese cuisine and sent him to Bangalore for further training. Within a few months, the kitchen at Sesame was up and running. Currently, Sesame employs 12 members who have all been trained to consistently provide good food and great hospitality.
Sesame's other focus, besides providing great food, is to provide a family-oriented ambience. However, they also intend to expand their consumer profile, and cater to corporate crowds and events. Thus, Sesame plans to expand to an even more spacious area within Kathmandu Valley.
While preparing the dishes, the chefs at Sesame make it a point to incorporate powerful flavours--especially the spiciness--and aesthetically pleasing presentation.
A ubiquitous item on Chinese snack menus is deep-fried wontons. At Sesame, these wontons come with an umami stuffing. The dough for the wonton is made in-house; a mixture of flour, egg and a dash of salt and pepper is kneaded and put into a machine to produce disc-shaped pieces. Before dunking the wonton strips in oil, they are rolled with a hefty stuffing of grated cheese, chopped garlic, coriander and a dash of salt and pepper. Named the Cheese Dragon, this crunchy surprise blends perfectly with the spicy condiment that is served with the wontons.
Another item, also named after the same aforementioned mythical creature, is the Dragon Chicken. The Dragon Chicken may have the wonton element of the Cheese Dragon, but differs in structure: it's a craggly ball of thinly chopped wonton that has a stuffing of stripped chicken, which has been marinated in Thai curry paste, ginger garlic paste, cornflour, flour and a hint of red colouring. When you bite into it, after the initial buttery mouthful of crunchy wonton, the warm chicken provides an outburst of flavours.
The Smoked Chicken Sadeko is another customer favourite. Here, pre-cooked chicken is pan-cooked with chopped onions, ginger-garlic paste, chopped garlic, coriander and sliced lemons. The chicken is succulent and has a piquant aftertaste.
The Whole Fish is another top-selling item from Sesame's main-course menu. The dish features locally sourced trout, which is cut diagonally, doused with a mixture of spices and ginger-garlic sauce and tossed into the frier until he skin turns golden brown. Next, the fish is pan-cooked with chopped carrots, black mushrooms, scallions, green peas, baby corn and mandarin sauce. The fish is flaky enough to be removed from the bones with ease, but still holds the crispness in its skin. The vegetables are drenched in a luscious gravy and is soft to the core. The dish comes with a side of rice.
Oyster sauce, sesame oil and hot sauce are integral in Chinese cuisine. Another ingredient popularly used in Chinese food--but often frowned
upon--is monosodium glutamate.
While Sesame does use these to enhance their dishesí taste, they restrict use
to a minimum.
Yam Magar, the head chef at Sesame Restaurant, has been operating the kitchen for the past five years. Magar currently has five chefs working under him and has trained every single one of them himself. Prior to working at Sesame, Magar worked for Hunan Chinese Kitchen, in Jawalakhel, for 10 years.
Magar's inspiration for cooking stemmed from watching his brother cook. He later underwent training under his brother and then honed his skills on his own. Magar believes that passion for cooking is more important than culinary training, although such training, of course, helps.
Since Sesame is located on the first floor of a commercial complex, you may have to navigate through dim halls to reach the restaurant entrance. Immediately after walking through the entrance, you'll find yourself in a classy dining area. Steel cutlery sit neatly atop the tables and simple black sofas and chairs surround the tables. To your left, segregated by a glass wall, is the lounge area. This spacious area has leather sofas encircling slick black tables. The lounge area is connected to a miniature stage and an open bar.
A recurring decor theme in the restaurant is the use of the colour red. The walls are covered with a bright shade of red behind the bar area and symmetrical patterns of red have been printed on various walls. And the walls of the dining area have red leather-like cushions layered on them. Many Chinese restaurants achieve the 'classic' Chinese-eatery look by making liberal use of the colour red, but many often overdo this. Sesame, however, nails this aesthetic perfectly.