by Mariam Sutidze-Haveri, Correspondent for FinnishNews, Tampere.
It took a real half a year to make that decision… And finally, we opened the door to that long-planned experience to enter that Nepalese restaurant that I had passed every morning going to work, and every evening coming back home, lured in by the odor of spices wafting out of that place.
Its blue outside walls were always dirty during the long Finnish winter, and its country-style short curtains hardly covered the hungry movements of its guests inside restaurant. They all discouraged me from going inside, while a dog-eared list of window menu, full of small text, finally dampened all my hopes to find anything interesting there.
It was that peculiar delicious smell ringing in my memories every time I felt hungry that brought me to that place after all. Just an ordinary evening in the middle of the week when you still cannot dare take a drink being afraid of arriving late for work the next morning, extended reactions to colleagues’ comments and feeling of resentment in the depth of your heart realizing you have no choice but to be in between of those four walls for many hours.
We just wanted to eat in some simple place nearby, with a good reputation for serving yummy food, and fewer people so we would not have to share waitress attention with them, as well with the rest of society for a while.
So one evening at about 7p.m., we left for the restaurant.
Opening the first door (turned out to be the second one as well perhaps to make the trip to imaginative Nepal longer) emptiness greeted us. At a glance, I counted 10 tables and 4 customers with a couple sitting at a corner table concentrating on just one thing, the meal in front of them and two young men physically located there while their mind was absolutely far from Nepal being in hot discussion on some probably important topic.
I was quick to make the promise of staying there for the evening before entering through the second door as there was no more time to find another place with an empty stomach. In any case this stark image of the restaurant intrigued me to try it out… So I made my first step inside onto a thick soft dark red carpet and into a savory scented space.
From the very first moment of standing there was some feeling of harmony caught my fractured attention. New music with its powerful spiritual meaning replaced the rattling of my high heels – one of those everyday noises of life, and my frozen face melted into a friendly malleable smile as a young man dressed in all whites, came forward – he seemed so happy as if he had been waiting for us the whole day.
Considering that this is a family restaurant perhaps the young man is one of the next kin who gets every visitor as his own guest. He honored us with complete freedom to choose where we wanted to sit, and although it lasted for some minutes to make up minds, his smile remained unchanged on his face.
We selected a similar table to all others near the window. We sat deeply into a dark red velvet bench, facing a huge Nepalese painting that covered all the walls. There was a bar full of bottled drinks and a decorated window with about 20 different types of empty beer bottles.
Once we felt settled and relaxed after having made that tough decision of selecting the table, we were challenged again. This time it was the menu list – a complete book of Nepalese cuisine of about 20 pages offering everything from vegetables to seafood, hot or sweet, fried or smoked, and while struggling with hunger pains and sensing their taste in our mouths we got a portion of 2 large flat breads called Roti. The hot smell of cumin gave us as a reason to finish up it all in spite of our modest Finnish appetite.
Now being on a safe side and feeling sated, we ordered a starter and main dish and got so many heartfelt thanks for the order that we almost felt ashamed to wait for the food.
The waiter disappeared for some minutes before he came back again bringing vegetable samosa. It was hard to me to imagine that enormous dish as a starter, being used to some lettuce leaves mixed with half a tomato. I was almost ready to complain that he might have misunderstood our starter but realized just in time my error and said nothing.
Shortly after that we received our main dish, vegetable balls in a curry sauce that I had observed being cooked with full attention and heart by a short lady and two other men in a kitchen behind the bar. I followed the whole process peeking through the kitchen door with glass in the middle when my attention was grabbed by a young lady entering the restaurant, speaking on the phone in high pitched voice and walking confidently to the bar. She seemed to be a regular customer with the same taste as the waiter served her without any order. Another group of 3 young men came in to buy a take-away menu. And in next 10 minutes some 7 people followed again. But all of them were hosted by that single young man with the same bright and gladsome expression on his face…
Though that delicious taste of food never gave us any choice but to eat it up avidly, we found it sad to leave. We felt like long-awaited guests spoiled by extra care and rich hospitability.
This is the place, a Nepalese restaurant called Katmandu in Tampere for all those who want to enjoy mouth-watering food and be appreciated as honored guests for an hour or so.