by Nipun ShakyaSeptember 28, 2020 food trails food cuisines
Honacha used to serve most of the local foods in Lalitpur to local farmers, and the wonderful thing is that it is still run by the same family that established it!
"Hona(होनः)" meaning taking care of everybody & “Cha (चाः)” common prefix used while addressing someone with love & care: thus the name-Honacha (होनःचाः)!
How to get there: After you land at Tribhuvan International Airport, get a cab to Patan Durbar Square. This Durbar Square is one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites as well, you know! Find the Patan Krishna Mandir at Patan Darbar Square and it’s right behind the temple! With a single cab ride, you accomplish two important not-to-be-missed-while-in-Kathmandu things! Single fare, double kaam (work).
I don’t know much of what I ordered but for an array of the palate, it was just under NRs. 700. Incredible, right?
Krishna Lal Byanjankar (“Byanjankar” is the surname given to someone who is an expert in making varieties of yummy dishes.) is originally from the place called Honley (Chysal). He moved into Mangal Bazar and opened a small shop there. His shop provided local food for the hungry farmers since the early days of his establishment. Since then, his eatery has been serving Ethnic Newari Food. The name, though, must have been originated from Honley (Hona) & “Cha” meaning boy, thus the name-Honacha. I guess most of you have already heard of it and have even at least once visited it while around Patan Durbar Square! It is one of the oldest eateries of Nepa valley and I would say must visit place when you are in Kathmandu. There were no restaurants at all before the late 1930s, except Bhatti’s with no name like these.
Honacha used to serve most of the local foods in Lalitpur to local farmers, and the wonderful thing is that it is still run by the same family that established it! Not even a single item has been changed from the menu since the day it got established. According to the Honacha family, it has been serving Newari food before 1934 AD, even before the biggest earthquake in Nepal (people popularly remember the great earthquake as “नब्बे सालको भुकम्प” pronounced as “Nabbe Saal ko bhukampa”). Honacha is truly a warm and welcoming place for the foodies, you see. With its prime location at Patan Durbar Square, this place’s original character, interior, and exterior has been preserved and maintained well by the Honacha Family for decades now. No wonders why the consistency of the food has remained the same all these years!
To write a bit about the history though, the Newa—also referred to as the Newar—were the first inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. Their Kingdom expanded beyond the valley and is the center for art, craft, agriculture, trades, and businesses. This community of Nepal is rich in communal experiences and has shaped today’s modern Nepal to what it is now! Equally famous in cuisines, some delicacies such as Choyla (spiced grilled meat), kachila (minced raw buffalo meat), and daaykula (buffalo meat boiled with fried spices) are the major offerings among almost more than a hundred delicacies that originated from the Newar Community.
I ordered Bhatmas sadheko (Marinated dry soya beans), keema bara, Aloo ko Tarkari, Choila, Sukuti, bhutan aloo for myself. You know, all the items were not good. In fact, they were all fabulous! My taste buds have started to tingle now as I write this. Pure mustard, simple home stoned, grind spices, and chili, with local Aiala and Chiura and beaten rice; you just can’t beat the combo with any other foods. The only thing I was missing was my ex-girlfriend. Well, she’s my ex now because she’s my wife already!
A handful of Chiura (beaten Rice) between each bite cleanses the palate for the next spoonful of yum yum delights about to enter the mouth! Which I learned from my Maiju Maicha that she belonged to the Raithane Pradhans from Patan, I couldn’t help but ask her more and more about Honacha. A Foodie and well-learned intellect (“Pade lekheko family” is the term used in Nepali for a person belonging to a “well-educated family”). I have to admit this one though- metho khanu cha bhane Newarni sanga bihe garnu parcha (English Translation: if you want to eat delicious, marry a Newari girl!) Ghar ma pani Mitho ra sasurali ko pani harek din bhoj! (English Translation: yummy foods will be cooked at the house and the in-laws will invite for feast almost every day too!) Mero mama Batho nai ho! he is sorted for his life. (English Translation: See, my maternal uncle is such a cunning fox marrying a Newar, now he is sorted for his life!)
Honacha is a reflection of our cuisines. These cuisines of simplicity are not just about balancing the right amount of salt, sourness, and hotness though. We don’t use sugar in savory cooking. Using fresh local produces and freshly ground simple spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic, ginger, green chilies, dried red chilies, fenugreeks, mustard oil, spring garlic, spring onions, and fresh coriander, as spices are actually a part of our traditional heritage cooking technique and are always filled with a bit of love my mummy chef!
My taste palate has changed and refined a bit- I find most of the dishes a bit spicy. It is my personal opinion though and as my memory allows me to recall, I was there in a very hot day during the summer of mid-August when I got acquainted with one of the strongest Rakshi I have ever tasted!.
Ordering to eat, the concepts of the open kitchen, artisan cooking, all these existed in our traditional kitchens almost since a century ago. Unfortunately, we just never documented it but Chef Binod Baral, a proud Nepali diaspora is working tirelessly towards creating digital archives of the same!
But, Bikram Vaidya and I, Binod Baral are coming as Nepa Brothers (#NepaBrothers) to highlight the Heritage Cuisines of Nepal with lots of flavors, love, and a lot of researched stories; to make food history relive once again for the future generation to revive and bring back the aroma in the kitchen again!
Honacha is the best Newari restaurant in the world; declared by not only me but many from around the globe who have already been to the cozy eatery filled with love and togetherness!