Owner Durjay Thapa declares this “the best Nepalese Restaurant in Sydney”; telling me it’s flourished for five years “relying on only word of mouth” from satisfied customers. After dining in their packed, convivial neighbourhood dining room (and feeling only a minor prick at not having tried each and every one of Sydney’s growing collection of Nepalese restaurants), I agree everyone should definitely try the cuisine here.
A free basket of pappadums helps you take your time with the menu - after all cuisines you don't eat every day do require you to do a lot of reading!
Bargain priced Mixed Entree ($8.50/head) is the best beginning, and I loved that I was able to select which four entrees it contained. In the text below I also list the price of these entrees individually, but this two person serve shared plate would only cost $17 in total.
The Pyaj Ko Pakoda ($8.50) or deep fried onion and julienned potato came up trumps, it's at twelve o'clock in my photo. Second spot went to the Bangur Ko Pet ($8.50) or crisp pork belly which was also tasty and topped with delicious charred eggplant pieces (see it in the nine o'clock position in my photo). We also tried chicken Momo ($8.50) which are the dumplings at six o'clock; and Phulaura ($10.90) which are the tasty tiger prawns coated in chick pea flour (besan), lemon juice and chilli, I enjoyed both of those dishes too!
By the way if you are gluten intolerant, this menu is for you. Chick pea flour is actually suitable for you to eat, and there are only two dishes on the whole menu that you would have to avoid.
While you wait for your mains, you can draw on the paper table coverings with the crayons they provide. Here is the artwork of a neighbouring table of newlyweds.
I could hang my nose over the fragrant Chitwan Jingghe Maccha ($17.90) or tiger prawns in ginger, garlic and coconut sauce, all day. They’re a pleasure to eat! I'm also not usually a rice fan (unless it's fried or in a risotto, jambalaya or paella type dish), but I loved this mound of coconut rice.
Sides like Bhanta ($8.50) spicy grilled eggplant...
...and Palungo ($8.50) sautéed spinach with caramelised onion, make the mains even more enticing. The beat the slightly oily Paratha ($3.10) just visible to the right of my photo hands down.
The second main we tried was a lamb curry cooked with tomato, ginger, cumin and garlic called Beda Ko Masu ($17.90). I enjoyed it, particularly when eaten with the sides.
A shot glass of Chilli Chocolate Mousse ($3.45) rounds off the palate nicely, but there are more substantial dessert options.
My dining companion chose the Coconut Pannacotta ($8.77) which came with a cinnamon and caramel sauce. It my opinion it was the meal's only weak point, being a bit watery in consistency.
Now make no mistake, authenticity has been moderated in favour of accessibility to Sydney palates but the surprise result is a wonderful synthesis of Nepalese flavours and good Australian produce. I'd call this one fresh, fragrant and full of charm (from the softly spoken Nepali student staff). Don’t forget it’s BYO!
Mandala Nepalese Restaurant
117 Avoca Street, Randwick
Ph: (02) 9326 6887