Haku Chuala, the Nepali Threeway, at Bridges in Northside.
One of the great things about being from a city of immigrants is experiencing the added layers to the city’s fabric that new immigrants bring. I finally had the opportunity to taste what new Nepali immigrants, Ashak Chipalu and his parents, bring to the table at their new restaurant, Bridges in Northside. It’s in the old Melt space on Hamilton Avenue. Oddly enough, Chipalu says that Northside reminds him of the Thamel neighborhood in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city.
The layman’s explanation to Nepali cuisine, is that it’s like Indian food, but spicier. The cuisine itself is called Newa, or Samei Baji, which has developed over centuries among the Newars of Kathmandu. It consists of over 200 dishes and is the most recognizable cuisine in Nepal. It’s an integral part of the culture and dishes are designed around specific celebrations. This is the first Nepali restaurant in Cincinnati, and I think it’ll definitely take off for those who like south Asian and spicier foods.
I went spicy with my choice – I did a rice bowl with yellow lentils, and haku chuala, the spicy smoked chicken, with cilantro and white onion on top. I also had as a side, a cold spicy salad of carrots, green peas, chickpeas, and onions. Each dish comes with a mild or spicy dipping sauce or chutney to add the layers of flavors.
Some of the wall art at Bridges, featuring the Lakhey Dancers of Nepal.
As I looked down at my haku chuala rice bowl I thought, “This is totally a Nepali Threeway!” Like a Cincinnati chili threeway, you have the starch, in this case the rice; then a savory meat stew, the spiced smoked chicken; and finally the ‘cooling layer’, which in this case is served by white onions and cilantro, and in the standard threeway, by the shredded cheese. Like the tobasco sauce Cincinnatians dump on their threeways for more heat, you can add the spicy chutney to your rice bowl at Bridges, to get that tickle on your tongue.
I had a great conversation with Ashak’s super-friendly father in the back deck, as he did some landscaping, about their journey to the brick and mortar restaurant.
In all Bridges offers great value, variety, and great quality of food in a great location, atmosphere – the back deck is awesome place to enjoy this unique cuisine. And, for now, as they work to obtain a liquor license, you can carry in your own alcohol. I’m sold on this new entrée to Cincinnati’s immigrant food