To step into Nanglo in Aldershot’s Grosvenor Road is not just to enter a haven of authentic Nepalese cooking, but to be embraced by the best of Himalayan hospitality.
This intimate, 28-seater café and restaurant has long seen members of the town’s Nepalese community make a bee-line for it, but it is now welcoming a growing number of other customers, drawn by its tasty and affordable mountain fare. The life and soul of the establishment is owner and chef Usha Ale, who oversees a 30-dish menu which focuses entirely on the cuisine of Nepal, rather than mixing it with Indian food as many local competitors do.
Sukuti, a dry meat jerky, is particularly popular among Nanglo’s burgeoning non-Nepalese customer base.
Towards the softer end of the spice spectrum, the meat, usually beef, can be served on its own as a side dish, or alongside larger choices.
Ms Ale favours the old-fashioned and labour-intensive method, and prepares the meat by drying it above a fire. Nanglo also provides the widest selection in Aldershot of that quintessentially Nepalese morsel: the dumpling.
At any one time Ms Ale will have five fillings available, including chicken, vegetable and mutton.
Among the children and teenagers breezing in and out of the restaurant at all hours, the quick-to-cook aloo paratha is one of the most popular orders, with the homely mix of unleavened dough cooked in butter and stuffed with a spiced mixture of mashed potato standing in as Nepalese cooking’s answer to fast food.
For those with more time to wallow in the flavours of Nepal, Thukpa, a Himalayan noodle soup, is also a favourite, containing chili powders, gram and pea soup thrown in for good measure.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, and on any day other than Wednesday a main dish will lighten the purse by no more than £5 or £6.
Wednesdays used to be Ms Ale’s one day off, but she now opens shop at slightly altered hours, when the normal menu is superseded by a special Nepalese curry night, where diners pay £10 for the curry of the day, which is accompanied by rice, dahl and chutneys.
The venue is fully licensed, with wine, beer and spirits all available.
It also holds a music licence to accommodate the many regular diners who, after a satisfying session of sukuti or dumplings, will often start strumming the house guitar, or take to tapping one of the drums that live permanently in the restaurant.
“It’s a very friendly atmosphere here,” said Ms Ale, 41. “Whether you are in for a quick snack or for a full meal, you will feel like you are in my home.”
Named after a flat, round woven tray made from bamboo, which is used to sift the dust particles from grain, rice and beans, her restaurant and takeaway aims to similarly filter out the inauthentic, and give her diners the real taste of Nepal.
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