The little Sikkim’s capital city, Gangtok, has something unique to offer to its tourists. Blending together a number of cultures, its cuisine stands out as a combination of Indian, Tibetan, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Korean and Chinese, bringing a wide variety to the traveller’s table. Relish the beautiful weather, hill viewpoints and dig your teeth in the best food offered at the best dining places listed below.
Mu Kimchi, Korean
Longing for perfectly prepared, authentic Korean cuisine? Then it’s worth climbing the 80 steps to Mu Kimchi, with an interior that cleverly cultivates a special ambience, balancing original bamboo ceilings and woven lamps with a pared-down contemporary minimalism matching the sound system’s insistent, bass-heavy mash-ups.
Beer/cocktails/soju cost from ₹150/350/250.
This pleasantly unsophisticated three-table place makes it straightforward by offering just two main styles to choose from: red-orange shakam curry using dried meat, and deliciously creamy, mid-spiced datshi cheese–based dishes with kawa (potato), pepper, beef or short strips of fatty pork. The complimentary bowl of soup is a nice touch. A half portion of the red rice provides ample accompaniment for one person, along with a glass of Saino ‘Sikkim’ wine, tasting of rich alcoholic plum juice (wine/beer costs from ₹100/120).
Lilting twangs of country music often serenade this timber-panelled cafe that’s especially popular with families and local women. Robust espressos (₹70), organic ginger tea (₹60) and other exotic infusions wash down a range of paninis and Western-style pastries from the bakery counter. Four tables have mountain views.
Enjoy some of Gangtok’s most authentic Chinese cuisine while settled into black-patterned sofas upstairs in the Namnang Ropeway Station building. Dynasty does a passable approximation of Thai food too.
Two tables to the left of the bar area have potentially lovely views. Cocktails/wine cost from ₹300/175.
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The Coffee Shop
Upstairs above The Square, this ever-popular cafe-diner is known not just for excellent coffee and smoothies but also for familiar international meals from nachos and falafels to grilled chops, rosemary tenderloin and various thin-crust pizzas. Behind a tempting cake display, the Dalai Lama raises his mug in approval.
Coffee costs ₹75 to ₹145, wine from ₹180.
Taste of Tibet
With a perfect central location and a reputation for Gangtok’s best Tibetan food, this place always draws throngs of diners chomping shyabhale (fried meat pasties) and slurping thentuk (thukpa; noodle soup), but the decor (or lack thereof) offers little romance. Try for a people-watching window seat.
Beers are ₹100.
Hamro Bhansar Ghar
Decorated with a few cursory corncobs and faggots, this Nepali specialist has a wide-ranging a la carte menu. But the big drawcards are the thalis, veritable artists’ palettes of around a dozen earthy flavours served on a brass tray.
Though presenting itself as an upmarket modern Chinese restaurant, this low-lit, coupley place also takes a crack at a range of other cuisines, including a few Sikkimese dishes.
Masala’s Metropolis-style metalised columns, waterfall windows and sawn-off car-chassis bar counter create an image that’s unusually hip for a vegetarian restaurant. ‘Food Scientists at Work’, claims a sign outside the kitchen, which turns out curiosities like stuffed-capsicum curry along with Indian and Chinese veggie standards.
Kolkata-style snacks are served at two Roll House branches on the same stairway off MG Marg. The lower one is just a window where punters queue for takeaway rolls. But the upper one also serves a range of chats (Bengali street food) and is fancifully decorated with cartoon figures. No seating.