A long table with steaming brass pots was certainly a sight to see at Hotel Shangri~La’s Shambala Garden. The Last Supper-esque meal was something that I wouldn’t really mind if it were to be my final feed.
In recent years, Tibetan food culture has been on a steady rise as you can see more and more restaurants opening up around the valley that serve classy high-end dishes. And you can’t certainly forget the Laphing craze. A cold mung bean noodle dish that has been recently pursued by every teenager’s tastebuds has become a prime example of how the cuisine has become well established among Nepali foodies.
Gyakok is family food- it is meant to be shared while you drink and have a jolly good time with your loved ones. Originally prepared in the Himalayan region where you lack the availability of having a variety because one cannot grow many types of vegetables in its soil, the dish is rich and nourishing- perfect for the cold and harsh weather. And Hotel Shangri~La’s version is certainly one of the best. The broth’s flavour is so homey that the effects are almost instantaneous- you can feel the warmth seep into your bones. The pot is so full of of meat, seafood, egg dumplings, vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, tofu and glass noodles that when the lid is opened, it is as if you just witnessed a magic trick; a cloud of steam uncovers the impressive display of ingredients and you are left in sheer wonder and pure excitement. And as if that wasn’t enough, you are also served a number of side dishes that include Kimchi salad, Garlic Cucumber Salad, Mushroom Bok Choy with steamed rice, Tingmo or T-momo (steamed buns) or other varieties of momos (steamed dumplings with different fillings). You can certainly see the twist on the classic Tibetan dish with these additions that have been inspired by other cuisines. Not only this but you can also make Gyakok to your taste by adding different sauces. The simmering pot that is made especially to cook Gyakok is filled with a non-smoking charcoal for the comfort of the guests.
The Executive Chef at Shangri~La, Vikram Kumar said, “The Gyakok is a dish that is to be enjoyed with the family. It is not only decadent but also very healthy with the use of so many different types of meats and vegetables. And at Shangri~La, we aim to preserve the traditions of this quintessential Himalayan food while adding our own new ingredients to make it more special.”
And he is right of course. The demulcent and scrumptious Gyakok fills your bellies and hearts with love. While it is certainly a little on the expensive side, the memories and nostalgic taste is definitely worth the price. And if you want to experience the joys of a steaming hot pot full of broth soaked goodies, do visit Shangri~La during lunch or dinner. Everybody knows that this is the type of grub you want during chilly winter nights.
Hotel Shangri~La’s annual feast of Gyakok- Tibetan Hot Pot will be be served in their Shambala Garden restaurant for lunch and dinner, from 11 A.M. to 9:30 P.M. starting from November 18 for the entire month of December.
Texts by: Reeya Pradhan
Images by: Rakesh Manandhar