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After a visit to Franciscan Well for a beer (and a call to Pat McDonnell for a few shade cards!), we took the opportunity to stop for an early dinner at Thali, the friendly Nepalese restaurant on Pope’s Quay.
We had been there just over a year ago and the dish we enjoyed then was the Thali Set. Thali means plate in Nepal and this dish, a collection of lentil soup (daal), chicken or lamb curry, vegetable curry, tomato chutney and rice, is delicious and, if you are a newbie to the cuisine, is a good way of starting into it.
Mix and Match
There is an early bird (€16.95). Other Asian dishes (Indian, Chinese and so on) are on offer here the A la Carte but we were sticking to the Nepalese section.One of our choices was the Jimbu Timur Chicken (lamb option also available). This is cooked in a typical Nepalese style with herbs and spices, featuring a local herb from the Mustang region of the Himalayas called Jimbu. Good bit of spice in this one but very tasty and the chicken was perfect (15.90).
The other main dish - we shared both -,was simply called Mix and Match (18.90). “Very traditional,” we were told. It is a style and a dish that originated in the Nepalese army, combining a delicious mix of char-grilled lamb, chicken and jumbo prawns. Another excellent plateful. These dishes come with either rice or naan so we had one of each. By the way, the naan is superb here as is the poppadoms that we had with the amuse bouche.
They have quite a list of starters, mostly from Nepal, ranging in price from 5.50 to 9.90. My pick was the Aloo Chop (6.50), a type of spicy potato fritter, a really popular veggie snack in the country. It is hot and spicy and very very delicious indeed and is served with their traditional coriander and mint chutney.
CL’s pick was the Chana Chatpat (5.50). This classic street food favourite in Nepal features chickpeas combined with aspecial peanut and herb chutney and garnished with fresh coriander. We went fifty fifty with the starters also and this is a beauty. Other starters that we can recommend from a previous visit are the Newari Sadeko (a chicken & salad dish from Katmandu) and the Mo Mo (steam dumplings filled with chicken).
Oh, I almost forgot. They also serve you an amuse bouche, well made poppadoms with a trio of dips, one cooling, the other two quite hot! There is a short wine list here, beers too (including a Nepalese one called Khukuri; poured from the bottle, it is nice and smooth). But we didn’t go for the alcohol this time and instead drank water, plenty of it!
Once upon a time, you could get beef, predominantly beef, at 30 Pope’s Quay, Cork. Then it was known as Gaucho’s in tribute to South American cowboys. These days, you'll find chicken and lamb here; the new name (since the autumn) is Thali Nepal and the menu features the cuisine of that South Asian country and highlights the vegetables, the spices, the rice and no shortage of meat either. But no beef!
Thali Nepal means platter of Nepal so the menu reflects the country, a crossroads of the area, which borders China (to the north) and India (to the south) and is close to Bhutan and very close (just a few miles) to Bangladesh. Many tribes and cultures, (and consequently cuisines) have met and mingled here.
And the people in Thali are proud to say their menu is genuine: it is "all Nepalese people here", out front and in the kitchen. And we certainly enjoyed our early evening visit last Thursday.
Bheda Ko Jhir
There are Asian favourites on the menu (including Biryani and Chow Mein and Thai Curry) but, helped by Basanta at front of house, we tried to concentrate on the purer Nepalese dishes.
He told us that one of our starters, the Mo Mo, is “an everyday dish” there. We had “five pieces of mouth-watering steamed dumplings, stuffed with minced chicken tossed with ginger garlic paste & served with homemade chutney”. It was indeed delicious, very enjoyable indeed. You may also have this as a main course and you then get 10 pieces.
Newa cuisine is the most celebrated food variety in the country (according to Wikipedia anyhow) and our other starter was called Chicken Newari Sadeko: chicken breast marinated with Himalayan herbs green chilli, red onions, spring onions, ginger, garlic, touch of lime & mustard oil. Served on salad bed. That description is very accurate and we enjoyed (we shared the starters) this light and tangy salad. They also do a lamb version.
I almost forgot! At the start we were served with some flat breads and three lovely dips. One was a yogurt and mint, nice and cool, and the others got progressively hotter! But nothing over the top; all very tasty indeed. And I also tried a Nepalese beer, the Khukuri, nice and smooth from the bottle.
They have quite a list of main courses and again we shared as best we could. One was the traditional Nepalese Thali Set, a meal made of a selection of dishes. Thali simply means a round platter to serve food. Portions included were rice (bhat), lentil soup (daal), vegetable curry (tarkari), Masu (lamb or chicken), Achaar (chutney). Again the details are spot-on and it was absolutely gorgeous and there was plenty of it.
We had the chicken in our Masu as we had ordered lamb for the other mains: Bheda Ko Jhir (Lamb Espetadas). This is Cubed lamb flavoured with mild spices, fresh herbs, chopped peppers, onions skewered & cooked in clay oven with rice or naan. It came out sizzling and smoking. We opted for the naan, as we had lots of rice with the Set. Basanta was very helpful with these little details and so helped avoid "duplications".
Chicken Newari Sadeko
This was a dish and a half. The lamb was tender and full of flavour and the veg was brilliant, the spices mild as indicated.
Delicious and all as the dishes were, it took us a while to polish off the two of them and there was no room for dessert; not even for coffee. And it was a happy couple that headed out onto the quay as the promised rain began to make its presence felt though with just a few soft and isolated drops. It was a mild night in Cork, maybe not as mild under the shadow of Everest. As you probably know, Nepal (capital: Kathmandu) is home to eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains.