After Hours: Kasthamandap, the Nepalese Spice Kitchen, near Camp Foster, Okinawa
It was the painted yellow eyes staring intensely from the restaurant’s storefront that led me to Kasthamandap, the Nepalese Spice Kitchen.
They would catch my gaze daily as I would drive along Highway 58 leaving Camp Foster.
The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Sculptures of Indian gods adorn the space, funky glass chandeliers hang from the ceiling and a mural of a Nepalese mountain offers a calm distraction as you wait for your food.
The restaurant takes its name from a 16th-century temple in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. Folklore has it that the temple was built from the wood of just one tree.
Owner Narayan Joshl said the restaurant opened about 4½ months ago and is the third in an island chain.
A window in the kitchen gives diners a chance to watch cook Raju Prasadkandel pat and stretch servings of naan flatbread before he sticks them inside the walls of a clay oven.
The menu reflects a mix of North and South Indian dishes including tandoori chicken, chicken tikka and mutton masala.
The prices are fairly reasonable: steamed momo dumplings for 680 yen, chicken curry at 880 yen, vegetable soup for 380 yen.
My friend and I sampled several dishes. The Kathmandu set for 2,280 yen allowed us to try three curry dishes: spinach chicken, prawn and keema — a minced chicken seasoned with garlic and onion. The sampler also came with a beef shish kebab, soup and salad. We also tried a chicken and beef tandoori mix for 1,080 yen. It was all right, although the meat was a little tough to chew.
My favorite was the prawn curry deeply flavored with coconut — yummo!
The staff is sparse — three on the Sunday night we dined — so expect a little wait for your meal. But the ambience and food are delightful, and worth checking out.
Kasthamandap, the Nepalese Spice Kitchen
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily
Prices: Soups and appetizers start around 380 yen. Curry dishes and dinner entrees range from 780 yen to 1,500 yen. Dinner set — including soup, salad, dessert — is 2,280 yen. Wine and cocktails available.
English menu: Yes
Clientele: Mix of Japanese and U.S. servicemembers
Location: From Camp Foster’s Commissary Gate, make a right onto Highway 58. At the Kitamae intersection, make a left. The restaurant is on the right-hand corner. Parking is limited but available in front of and beside the restaurant.
Web site: None