Gurkha Café

Gurkha Café
25–27 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1BP
  • Telephone 0131 225 2832
  • Seasonal times None
  • Food served Mon–Sun noon–11pm.
  • Average price £8.50 (set lunch); £13.50 (evening meal)
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Gurkha Café

Nepalese food has a bit of an identity crisis here in Scotland; obvious similarities with North Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine mean that Nepali restaurants sometimes offer little more exciting than your common biryanis and kormas. The Gurkha Café doesn’t stray too far from this trend, but one or two Nepalese specialities add a bit of substance to the menu. It’s a deceptively large place; a low false ceiling of beams and rafters gives the impression of dining inside a Himalayan hut, so it feels intimate despite its 90 cover capacity. Alongside pakora and popadoms, starters include channa chat – chickpeas in a vividly red, jam-sweet sauce – and bouncy Nepalese mo mo dumplings. Many dishes come on slightly frightening sizzlng platters, blazing a trail of pungent smoke across the restaurant. One of these smoky delights is the ‘Nepalese Super Dish’: tandoor-charred chunks of lamb or chicken in a real slow-burner of a sauce. The curries here tend toward a sweeter, deeper spice, and highlights like the achari lamb also have a pleasantly sour note that leaves you wanting more.

Eating & Drinking Guide

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This review is taken from the 2012 edition.

Gurkha Café proudly showcases the cuisine of Nepal in a venue where remnants of previous tenants remain: the incongruous mock-rustic Italian terracotta tile-roofed bar now shares space with stupas and Annapurna posters. Aside from a couple of tables looking out onto Cockburn Street, there is a large dining space through the back which is rather dark apart from candles and fairy lights. As such, it’s difficult to discern much detail in what you’re eating, which is a shame. Familiar Indian and Bangladeshi dishes, from korma to rogan josh, fill out the menu but key to the healthier Nepalese version is the lack of ghee. Not that the pakoras and deep-fried ‘lollypop’ chicken wings to start seem healthy. For mains, you will probably be drawn to a ‘Nepalese super dish’ – a curry of tandoor-cooked meat in a dense, sweet sauce, served on a sizzling platter. The achari lamb is similarly rich, while roti is a suitable accompaniment. Wash the lot down with a tasty Gurkha beer and contemplate going Nepalese next time you fancy a curry.

  • High point: An interesting introduction to Nepalese cookery
  • Low point: Lighting is a little too low

The food of Nepal is as diverse as the country itself. The Nepalese recipes are quick to cook and good to eat. Nepalese food is famous for its nutrition level and tempting taste. Whilst Nepalese cuisine is somewhat basic, it certainly does not lack in flavour, making extensive use of spices and flavourings such as ginger, garlic, coriander, pepper, cumin, chillies, cilantro, mustard oil and butter.

Nepalese food is very healthy. For people travelling to Nepal on vacation, back-packing or trekking it is good to know what food is eaten in Nepal in order to prepare for the trip. Nepalese food is heavily influenced by Indian and Tibetan cuisine and consequently you should come across a wide variety of food during your stay. International foods from across the globe are particularly represented in restaurants in Kathmandu.

Although traditional Nepalese food is often described as ‘bland’, Nepalese cuisine is certainly healthy and extremely nourishing.

Text supplied by third party.

  • Private dining: Up to 20 covers
  • Provides: Vegetarian options (at least ¼ main courses), Halal options, Children's portions, Children's high chairs
  • Music on stereo: Sitar music
  • Capacity: 90
  • Largest group: 90
  • Open since: 2011
  • Number of wines sold by the glass: 4
  • House wine: £13.95 per bottle