Authentic Nepalese cuisine is pretty uncommon in Singapore and if you do chance upon it, it is usually buried away in the back pages of a restaurant menu that clearly focuses on every other cuisine except Nepalese. But not here at Lomba The Gurkha Bistro. Located in the sleepy Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, this three-table homely bistro is run by the amiable chef-owner Anushka Rana with the occasional help from her son.
Sporting a full Nepalese menu and an absolutely no-frills dining experience, it has since built up quite the reputation since it first opened in 2020. Staying true to her roots, Anushka places an emphasis on strictly using naturally processed ingredients and mountain herbs such as raw oils, Himalayan crystal salt, jimbu, and unrefined sugars aka jaggery – they are said to be healthier.
First up, we had the Thukpa ($6). Reminding us of a comforting bowl of chicken noodle soup, it saw a medley of leafy and root vegetables, fragrant shallot oil, and silky noodles floating in a bed of lightly sweet and vegetal broth. Then came the juicy Chicken Momo ($6). These plump and juicy Nepalese dumplings had a warm peppery finish which is further enhanced by a piquant dipping sauce that goes well with just about anything.
So what's popular you ask? All fingers point to the Jimbu Butter Chicken ($14). The addictive creaminess of this dish typically comes from the incorporation of heavy cream but the downside is that its high in cholesterol. Sticking to a healthier ethos, Anushka’s version replaces heavy cream with cashews which also results in a milder, nuttier gravy. It is then topped with dried slivers of jimbu, which taste similar to chives and boast traditional medicinal properties.
But if you’ve only space for one main dish, we’d recommend going with the Chyau ($14). Expect fresh mushrooms, edamame, capsicums, tomatoes, sweet onions, and loads of garlic, all patiently stir-fried in raw oils and seasoned with Himalayan salt. Each bite had a spicy, savoury and earthy profile that is deeply satisfying. Definitely get the Bara – a five legume powdery flatbread lightly cooked in butter, to help mop up the dish and leave no sauce behind.
Fair warning – if you’re looking for a quick fifteen-minute bite then this spot isn’t for you. Things here might seem to operate in a lackadaisical manner on the first encounter but we assure you that it’s not. Though quite the turnoff when we were told that the waiting time may stretch up to 45 minutes before getting our food, we recognise that it is largely due to the one-woman show behind the pocket-sized kitchen. But Anushka’s warm smile coupled with her attention to detail in her prideful cooking makes it all worthwhile.
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