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