Kathmandu is fast becoming a food lover’s fair. And Mela is adding its unique vibe to the merry-go-round.
--BY AASHIYANA ADHIKARI
In a crowded place like Kathmandu, it’s increasingly becoming difficult to find a restaurant with a fine ambience. Even if an eatery with an on-par level of ambience is found, the quality of food can be a bit of a hit or miss affair. Mela Restaurant and Bar has the answer to this conundrum faced by restaurant goers.
This Mughlai and Indian cuisine focused restaurant is sophisticated without feeling like it’s trying too hard. Located at the heart of Kathmandu, in Lainchaur, this restaurant staffs 27 people. Having a seating capacity of 150, Mela also has separate private rooms with room for 15 people. Opened in 2009, Mela also holds birthday parties, seminars and other small functions.
The restaurant is easily identified by its red coloured brick interior. An open dining area with high ceilings and iron beams adds an industrial undertone to the overall layout of the restaurant. The Indian movie posters hung on the walls gives Mela a Bollywood vibe and a typical Indian feel to the place. While the dining experience is smart, it retains a casual vibe. If you don’t understand the menu you can feel free to ask questions too, because the staff are great, and that includes being knowledgeable on regular menu items, specials, dish ingredients and wine.
Dishes like Resmi Kabab and Tikka Kabab are very delicious and they are a must try. Mutton Kakuri Kabab is so soft and juicy that it melts in your mouth and you cannot help but admire its amazing taste. For vegetarians, delicacies like Malai Pudina Tandoori Aloo (stuffed mint potato cooked in cashew nut gravy) and Paneer Tikka (cubes of Paneer Marinated and cooked on Skewers that tastes sweet and sour), Navaratna Korma, Kashmiri Aloodam, Aloo Kolapuri, Paneer Posinda are palate pleasing items. You cannot get enough of the mouth watering Kulcha Roti (prepared from white flour with stuffing masala, onion, paneer or as your preference) and Keema Naan (prepared from white flour with minced meat stuffing) served here.
Mela Restaurant and Bar lets you choose from its long menu list that has a rich selection of Mughlai, Indian, Chinese and Thai dishes. You can place an order for Thai Tom Yam or Chinese Wanton and Chicken and Prawn soups. At the same time, you can have an assortment of rice varieties including Kashmiri Pulao and different types of Biryanis in vegetarian and non-vegetarian tastes as per your preference. There are also special fish items such as Fish Dopyaja (prepared in thick yellow gravy of cashew nut along with onion, onion leaf, capsicum and green peas), Fish Masala (prepared in thick red spicy gravy and topped with grated eggs) and Fish Begam Bahar. Mughlai and Indian chicken varieties such as Chicken Dopyja, Chicken Sultana, Chicken Patiyala, Chicken Bharta and Chicken Hydarabadi will excite the taste buds of non-veggies here.
The restaurant’s bar menu is filled with different imported spirits ranging from premium whiskeys, vodka, gin, rum, tequila to champagne and wines as well as local alcohols and beers. There are a number of cocktails prepared from imported spirits such as Margarita, Black Russian, Chocolate Bunny, Slippery Thumb, Sink or Shine and Caipirosckka and those prepared from local spirits such as Mojito, Night Life, Gin Fizz and Tom Colins to quench your thirst. For non-alcoholic drinkers, the restaurant serves different types of mocktails.
The secret to reaping the benefits of Mela Restaurant and Bar is actually going in the evening. The perfect time is after 7pm when vases of flowers and low dimmed lights hit the tables. Mela is a totally different restaurant then- one that’s perfect for pretty much any occasion.
Head Chef Ajit Mishra was working in India before he came to this restaurant. Although he cooks a variety of cuisines, his specialises in Indian and Mughal dishes. “The spices that I use in the food are usually made here itself therefore the dishes you find here do not taste similar to any of the other Indian restaurants,” Mishra says.
Pramod Kumar Jaiswal, proprietor of Mela Restaurant and Bar who is also the President of Restaurant and Bar Association of Nepal (REBAN) says that instead of giving more focus to the bar menu, he has given more priority to the food menu. “After all food is an experience and we have always concentrated our efforts to give our customers an excellent food experience,” he mentions.