Montys of Kathmandu has become a Dublin institution since it was opened by Shiva Gautam and his wife Lina in 1997. It seemed to take just months before it felt like it had always been there.
The cuisine of Nepal is closely related to Northern India but there are also Chinese and Tibetan influences with lots of stir fry, Sichuan peppers and even soy sauce. Flavours are cleaner and fresher than in most of India and spicier than in China, but it is the lightness of touch in the Monty’s cooking that I think I like most.
Montys has one of the few charcoal powered tandoors in the city (the rest are gas or electric) and barbecued pork sings louder here, the naan bread seems fluffier.
Dishes like Poleko Squid can be revelatory. It sounds simple - marinated baby squid is simply baked in the tandoor for around 30-40 seconds and brought sizzling to the table – citrus and spice flavours jump from the squid and fill the senses while the texture is always at that sweet point so important with squid – hovering happily between teeth-squeaking chewy and melt in the mouth.
Water is poured from bronze jugs which seems to make it taste fresher and bronze plates are used for many dishes including Mungling Dhal Bhat which is a recreation of the simple meals served in the mountain village of Mungling half-way between the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhera, a journey Lina made many times with her father.
Dal is served with rice, fried vegetables and some chicken with lots of relish, chutney and bread on the side but this simple sounding meal sings with flavour due to the focused spicing and fresh ingredients and the bronze plates seem to help the flavours find a few extra notes.
Kachela Lamb - softly hand rolled lamb tartare mixed with garlic and spices - and fresh Momo Dumplings with a variety of fillings are other highlights.
The wine list in Montys is also one of the most comprehensive in Dublin thanks to Shiva’s passion for matching food with wine. As you would expect there are wines from Spain, Chile, Australia and New Zealand but you will also find Barolo, Brunello, Le Corton and Bonne Mares Grand Cru Burgundy and even some Léoville-Las-Cases, Hermitage La Chapelle and Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile.
Thanks to the magic of the Coravin wine extractor many of these wines are available by the glass – I doubt there is any other restaurant in the country offering Penfolds Grange (c. €400 per bottle) by the glass.
In short, why haven’t you visited recently?