Nepali cuisine is often depicted or known for—especially abroad—only a few dishes, such as momos, dumplings, and dal bhat, a staple meal of lentil soup, rice, pickles, mixed vegetables, and occasionally meat.
But Raithaane has neither momos nor dal bhat, nor does it serve much resembling the food found in restaurants around Kathmandu. The diverse menu includes pork-rich dishes from Eastern Nepali communities, stews from northern Sherpas, black lentil patties from the west, and battered deep-fried vegetables from the south.
Opened in late 2018, Raithaane highlights these dishes to preserve the country’s gastronomical heritage and to educate Nepalis on their country’s complicated and varied gastronomical traditions. With a population of 28 million and 125 distinct ethnic groups, it’s no small endeavor. Started by three food-obsessives, two Nepali and one French, they mix of ingredients to give customers a taste of Nepali food they might have never encountered.
To serve these dishes, some of which rely on traditional grains and produce that are disappearing in favor of foreign imports, the Raithaane team works with local farmers and the agricultural system. Their goal is to highlight and help create demand for soon-to-be-lost Nepali ingredients that sustained the country for centuries. That said, the chefs are not slaves to tradition, mixing cheese from yak milk into Nepali buckwheat gallettes, and the restaurant’s sweets—especially a pie made of juju dhau, or strained buffalo yoghurt—have inspired a small cult following.
Know Before You Go
Peel your eyes when looking for Raithaane. The restaurant is not visible from the unnamed lane on which it sits, tucked in the southwestern corner of a small courtyard. There is a small blackboard on the street, however.
Also be aware that Raithaane follows a highly seasonal menu, so may not have every dish on its menu at all times. Hours have also varied due to the pandemic, though there are now take-out and delivery options, so be sure to check the restaurant's Facebook page for updates.