The Himalaya Centre
In 2005, at the Scottish Parliament, the Dalai Lama told Reka Gawa: ‘Don't forget you’re Tibetan; keep the culture alive.’ She had long dreamed of opening a shop, and in 2007, inspired by his words, she did so: the photo of their meeting hangs proudly among quotes from His Holiness. Now predominantly a vegetarian café, the Himalaya Centre has a small retail section for crafts, jewellery and fabrics. The driving force behind the venture is the celebration of Tibetan and Himalayan culture. There’s a large community room downstairs used for alternative therapies and yoga classes; it fundraises for Tibetan aid, and holds regular music nights. Gawa has become known for the best chai in town – choose from five varieties, which are hand-ground to order from fresh spices and ginger. Food is as simple as the tiny stove at the back necessitates – cheap, wholesome veggie curries, huge thali plates (curry, salad, rice and chapati) and a good line in wraps: the Himalaya is a mix of aubergine, olives, falafel and hummus. There’s also a pancake menu, and generous slices of homemade organic cake at rock-bottom prices.
- Private dining: About 15
- Provides: Vegetarian options (at least ¼ main courses), Wheelchair access, Free wi-fi
- Music on stereo: Tibetan/world music
- Live entertainment: Music and film nights; yoga and meditation/falun gong; massage and numerology; zikr gatherings
- Capacity: About 35
- Open since: 2007