The choices to eat out are aplenty in Kathmandu with a restaurant or café at almost every corner of the street. But fine dining isn’t an option at a lot of these places. Chimes Restaurant at Sanepa, Lalitpur, caters to this need as well which is what makes it slightly different from all the various eateries out there.
The restaurant is relatively new. It opened its doors officially in early November but had been up and running even during its trial and testing phase for a week before the official launch. The three founding partners, Shikhar Pandey, Viking Krishna Kunwar and Thejan Limbu, had been thinking of opening a restaurant that served quality food for quite a while. Kunwar has worked with restaurants and eateries for more than 18 years now and currently handles the operations of the restaurant. Pandey says that although this whole concept and working sector are completely new to him, he is very skilled in operating institutions and looks after the marketing of the restaurant.
“But I have been following the restaurant business for about a year now and also have a background in the tourism and service industry. So, that helps,” he states. Lastly, Limbu – who Pandey calls one of the most creative and innovative Nepali chefs – is the head chef for Chimes and is involved in creating every single dish that makes it to the customer’s table.
Like most eateries these days, Chimes has blended in traditional Nepali themes alongside western themes to give it a unique concept. Pandey mentions that they have run with this concept mainly with their decor and food. You will find items influenced by Singaporean and Japanese cuisines listed out alongside items that are more in-tune with the Nepali taste palette like momo and chicken chili.
Even though it might feel like a posh eatery to most customers, head chef Limbu reveals that if he actually starts serving things he likes – and thinks of as fine dining – he doesn’t think the restaurant will be favored by most Nepalis. “I come from a place that really values fine dining and want to bring that to Chimes too. But I feel like the customers might complain that the servings of each course is very less so I have tried to adjust to the local food palette to a certain extent,” he says.
When we visited the restaurant, we tasted a lot of dishes – from sukuti 2 ways and caprese salad to roast chicken and crème brûlée. And one thing that was clear to us from the very first bite was that Chimes restaurant really doesn’t compromise when it comes to the quality of their food. Everything tastes amazing and their food is also presented very nicely. Out of everything that was served to us there, the roast chicken really stood out. It was cooked to perfection – with crispy golden colored skin and a tender and juicy meat on the inside – and all of the sides served with it – like sautéed potatoes, fresh vegetables and mushroom – enhanced the flavor of the dish.
Limbu mentions that he is slowly but surely introducing the idea of five to eight course meals to Chimes’ customers by subtly adding them into their menus as something like a weekend special. He claims that the Nepali palette consists mostly of three tastes, sweet, sour, and salty, and that he is trying to fuse that into his cooking and the restaurant’s menu. He also states that he puts a lot of effort into making the food look appealing visually too because he thinks that before we actually take a bite of whatever is offered to us, we eat through our eyes and nose and create the first impression of the food item.
Another thing he mentioned was that although most of the food items served at Chimes have a very British or French origin, he has tried to incorporate the spices that are present in Nepali food into them to make it more appealing to the Nepali taste palette. Even though he mentioned that he is trying to incorporate spices and Nepali flavors to the food, it’s pretty clear that he hasn’t completely mastered that yet once you taste their momos. While holding back on strong spices has worked in their favor for the other food items (like the Paneer Guacamole – that was a delight!), it really doesn’t do the otherwise perfect momos justice. Also, serving a kind of sweet (yet spicy) sauce and miso soup with these momos fails to hit the mark.
Currently, the Chimes team is more focused on attracting customers through their food than through promotions. Pandey states that all the events they have conducted at the restaurant till date have been food related – like their thanksgiving turkey night, winter menu launch, and other events covering seafood and vegetarian delicacies. “As we want people to remember our food when they think of Chimes, we are doing everything in our power to make it stand out,” he concludes.
Opening hours: 8:00 am to 9:00 pm