Spice Up Your Life - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Spice Up Your Life

Spice Up Your Life

Published September 6, 2013

Ragnar Egilsson

Nepal is home to mountains that are magnets for freeze-dried corpses, sky burials and the sticky hash that may have killed Bruce Lee. It also make really tasty food. And some of that food can be found in Reykjavík—would you look at that?
The notes struck in Nepalese cuisine will be familiar to fans of Indian food but with a distinct regional difference. They have borrowed somewhat from Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine with dishes such as dumplings. The most noticeable thing about Nepalese cuisine to me is their love of anything acidic and tart, such as lime, lemon, tamarind, vinegar and plain yoghurt. Rice also has a starring role, even more so than in most Indian regional cuisine.
The best thing about Kitchen is, you guessed it, the kitchen. But the rest is an absolute migraine-inducing cacophony. The food is great and I’ll get to that but let’s first look at the problems.
Firstly, they have no website, except a blank page that simply says ‘Under Construction’, and a very limited web presence. It’s 2013 and it has been like this for a while. Nobody is asking for a flashy Flash site with a mission statement and a row of dancing mangos – just a menu, 3 photos and contact info.
Secondly, they don’t seem to be able to stick to their strange opening hours. I have tried to go there several times in the past and always found it to be closed. To be fair, they seem to be doing better with that lately.
Thirdly, the ambience is strange. They started by blasting a Bollywood version of Moments in Love by Art of Noise and then absolute silence for the next two hours. There was one other occupied table in the place so it made things pretty awkward.
Fourthly, the service is unreliable. There were mix-ups with the orders, they far too long to let us know that items we had ordered were unavailable and the overall service would have made a sloth scream with impatience.
Fifthly, it’s called “Kitchen.” Which is a weird and un-Googleable name.
My first course was two slices of eggplant with cheese, breaded and fried. Came with Khatta Meetha tamarind sauce for dipping (1,190 ISK). Breaded and fried is usually a safe bet and this went really well with the sauce.
My dining partner picked the Choyala marinated lamb (1,490 ISK) with typically Nepalese beaten rice (baji). I love those darn rice flakes. The dish had not been drenched in sauce and it looked quite dry to my sauce-reared Icelandic eyes. But it was actually perfect. Recommended.
I ordered the mixed shish kebab with prawn, chicken, lamb and veggies (4,090 ISK), with naan bread, saffron rice and lime chutney ordered on the side. The shish kebab was good but not that remarkable—could have used a slightly larger portion. The saffron rice was pilaf and in it nestled whole cinnamon sticks and star anise fried a deep brown. The lime chutney did not work at all despite me being very used to the odd taste of pickled lemons in North-African cuisine. All I could think of was a washing detergent. But it might be an acquired taste.
My dining partner had the Murgh Masala chicken (2,990 ISK), which the waiter warned us was quite heavy on honey. True to his word it was a bit sweeter than either of us would have preferred. I’d recommend asking for it spicy and hot and low on the honey.
To drink we had the Masi Campofiorin 2009.
Dessert was a mango ice cream a bit like mochi ice cream in texture or even Turkish dondurma. A fresh, clean mango flavour and completely wonderful.
I had the traditional Nepalese dessert which was like a thick yoghurt pudding with a hint of saffron. Very light and slightly tart. Good, but not as good as the mango ice cream.
The price is right, the food is mostly good, I welcome the added variety in the restaurant scene but the kitchen at Kitchen is let down by big picture.

Opening Hours: Mon: 17:30 – 22:00, Tue – Fri: 12:00 – 14:00, 17:30 – 22:00, Sat – Sun: 17:30 – 22:00
What We Think: Interesting and tasty food but the rest is a mess.
Flavour: Nepalese
Ambiance: Art of Noise or total silence
Service: Service?
Price for 2 (with drinks): 
15,000-20,000 ISK
Our Rating: 3/5

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