Where to eat in Bhutan?
Bhutanese cuisine is a mélange of varying textures, flavours and aromas. Since the country is surrounded by the Himalayan range, they include several ingredients that maintain the body temperature required to survive in such conditions. The traditional fare is served and eaten in wooden bowls. People usually eat with their hands as sharp cutlery can scratch the bowls; although the new generation is slowly shifting to using either plates or using cutlery to eat. Cheese and Chillies are an integral part of Bhutanese Cuisine, so you’ll find them in most of the dishes. Here’s where you can grab some grub in Bhutan.
#1 Zombala Restaurant, Thimphu
The place serves some amazing beef momos. Their momos are plump and super juicy. So be prepared to have a splash of that steaming hot juice on your first bite! Their Ezay sauce, i.e., chilli sauce is brilliant. They’re also supposed to have some great noodles so give it a try.
Cost for two: INR 200-300
#2 Folk Heritage Museum, Thimphu
Apart from giving you a glimpse into Bhutan’s culture and history, the place has its own restaurant that serves authentic Bhutanese cuisine. 2 platters can easily suffice 3-4 people. The line-up of dishes includes Ema Datshi, Bhutan’s national dish made with cheese and chillies; Kewa Datshi (potatoes and cheese); Sikam Paa (pork belly and chillies) and many more such dishes.
Cost for two- INR 1000
#3 Wifi Restaurant, Punakha
This place is a must visit for the mesmerizing view it provides if you take the balcony seating. There are just 3-4 tables outside so if you’re lucky, it’s going to be one hell of a meal with fresh air and delicious food with a great view. Their Sikam Paa is better and less oily. They also serve a delectable soup that you’re bound to get addicted too.
Cost for two: INR 1000
#4 Food at a local’s house, Punakha
You can ask your local tour guide to arrange a visit to one of the local’s house. If you don’t want a home-stay arrangement, try to have one meal at their house to get a taste of home-cooked Bhutanese food. Many houses in Punakha offer such services. It’s a simple but fulfilling experience. They even let you try the traditional Bhutanese attire!
Cost for two: INR 1000
#5 Champaca Café, Paro
Craving for some comfort food? This picturesque café in Paro is where you curl up with a book and coffee. Similar to the cafes in Majnu Ka Tila, Delhi, they are stocked with an impressive collection of books and some great food. Watch the bustling market from the windows as you unwind with a dose of caffeine and some nibblers like fries or chocolate café. Their Iced Mocha and Iced Tea are highly recommended. They even have an outdoor seating, perfect for windy evenings!
Cost for two: INR 800
Bhutanese food can be slightly overwhelming for those who don’t like spicy food because most of the dishes incorporate a lot of chillies. However, in most of the place, you can customize the spice level as per your preference. Try their Butter Tea, Suja, which is similar to the Kashmiri Sheer Chai but is made without any milk. Indian currency works in Bhutan and has the same value as Ngultrum. So payment is not an issue. Remember that most of the places shut down by 8 or 8:30 p.m. so plan your meals accordingly.