When your heart yearns to be in Nepal but you’re stuck 9,701 kilometres away in Melbourne, the next best thing is to get a fix of Nepalese beer and momos at Base Camp in Northcote. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from our recent trip to Everest Base Camp. I don’t mean in the physical sense- the burning muscles and aching limbs have long been forgotten, but I fear I left a piece of my heart in those mountains. Everything about that country moves you- the people, the staggering landscape, the crisp colours, the cold, pure air. I’d jump on a plane this very instant if I could.
So that first sip of Nepal Ice was very welcome indeed. Base Camp actually specialise in Birmingham Balti, those Indian styled British curries that are cooked in a wok of sorts and stir fried, rather than over a long, slow, low heat. But they also serve Nepalese curries, traditional and not so traditional (read butter chicken) Indian curries. The place is low key but the service is friendly, the food tasty and it’s the perfect spot to grab a bite before catching a flick at Palace Westgarth across the road.
We eat steamed momos- Nepalese dumplings, which we dip in a mildly spicy tomato and sesame chutney. The meat is well seasoned and it’s a tasty morsel although I find them slightly oily.
The curries are a good bet. It’s hard to go past the Himalayan goat curry- tender pieces of goat (on the bone) coated in a thick sauce fragrant with garam masala, coriander and fennel seeds. The portions are generous and whilst there is plenty of sauce or gravy to mop up with naan and rice, the meat isn’t swimming in it. And there’s plenty of meat to go around. No fighting necessary.
The chicken tikka masala (I know, I know, the usual suspect but Base Camp’s version is very, very good) is equally delicious. The sauce is more tangy than creamy which is appealing. It’s lighter than those cream laden versions you often find and again it’s a generous portion.
We stick with plain rice on this visit but their garlic naan is worth a go- glistening with butter and laden with garlic.
Although part of the reason we visit is because we can gaze at paintings of Himalayan villages whilst swigging Nepalese beer and recount stories from our mountain adventure, there’s no doubt that Base Camp serves delicious, honest food. If you’re in the area, go and get a taste of it.
Good to know:
Nepal Ice $7.50
Momos (meat) $12
Himalayan goat curry $16
Chicken tikka masala $16.50
Plain rice $3
102 High Street
Telephone +61 3 9482 1168
Open 7 days 5:30pm to 10:00pm
Delivery available $5 to surrounding suburbs.
Photographs: Thomas Southam