Nepalese food and art in Baguio
Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia bounded by Tibet in the north, India in the South and Bhutan in the east. The capital is Kathmandu. Eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains, inclu-ding Mount Everest, “the highest point on earth is located at the Mahalangur range of the Great Himalayas at the border of Nepal and Tibet.”
Nepal has many similarities with its neighbors, especially in its cuisine and art.
Julian Shakya was born and raised in Nepal and has moved to Baguio with his family in 2004. He took up Business Administration at Saint Louis University. The family started the Namaste Arts and Objects at Porta Vaga, at the same time Julian put up Food and Art expositions in Spain, China and Tibet from 2012 until now. Clamoring for South Asian cuisine, his art and doctor friends, visitors from Nepal and those who visited Nepal and some non- government organizations has encouraged him to open his own Nepalese restaurant and art gallery in Baguio.
In 2017, his Nepa-lese restaurant called “Half & Half Restaurant and Art Gallery” was inaugurated at the Ruperto Building along Outlook Drive. If one is familiar with the old Villa La Maja now called Villa Silvinia, that is exactly where it is. The resto is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Sundays. He also caters to parties and special gatherings. For those of you who are looking for a nightlife, they have “Live music” every Saturday and Sunday from 7 to 10 p.m. For more information, please get in touch with Julian Shakya at 246-2952.
The restaurant will give you a taste of Nepalese and fusion food. The art gallery displays the South Asian art coming from Nepal, Tibet and India. He has a wide variety of vegetarian food. “It is called Half & Half because the resto serves you half of every culture, a variety of flavors, and fusion food from South Asia to Chinese to Filipino,” says Julian.
“The dishes are good for your health because it is prepared with different herbs and spices from Nepal,” Julian adds.
Worth mentioning is that Julian is half Nepalese and half Filipino. His father Jiwan is into metal handicraft, in fact one of his marvelous works is exhibited at the gallery. His mother Alisha hails from Mankayan, Benguet and has roots in Pangasinan. Wife Shenade is also from Mankayan. It is also half restaurant and half gallery.
Influenced by his father, their recipes like tandoori chicken, paneer tikka, mutton (lamb) biryani and mutton curry come from family recipes passed from generation to generation. Best sellers are momo dumplings, mutton and chicken. These are also the favorites of his doctor clients.
Interesting is how they prepare dumplings. Julian explains. “Chicken, pork, and vegetable momo dumplings are folded in three different ways individually. The dough is made into flat round shape and folded into eight, 12 or 18 times depending on the dumpling kind. The chicken momo is folded into a half moon shape, pork momo in a full moon shape and the vegetarian momo in a teardrop shape. The dumplings are then served steamed, pan fried or tandoori style which is served with “tomato achar” a Nepalese pickle dip.”
“Baguio reminds me of Kathmandu. The climate is similar. And that is the reason for this restaurant, we want to bring Nepal and the Himalayas to Baguio,” says Julian.
Sister Andria Purnima manages the Namaste Arts and Objects at Porta Vaga while Zyla is an online teacher. If you and your guests are horseback riding in Wright Park, visit “Half & Half” and have a taste of Nepal.