Food Hopping In Leh
Food Hopping In Leh
Now we all know that ‘Maggie and Mountains’ share a very romantic relation. That is probably why you will find a minimum of 2 bowls of maggie on every table of a mountain shack in Ladakh. Then of course there is the bread omelette for the non-vegetarians.
BUT, no matter how comforting that bowl of maggie is, there are eateries and restaurants in Leh market that offer much more than that. Here’s a list of 5 places to eat (rated in the order of my preference), when you’re not busy exploring Khardungla or Pangong!
#5 Bon Appetit, Changsha Road
Very popular among international tourists, Bon Appetit serves some really great Italian fare. The pizzas and the lasagna are quite a treat for your tummy. But the star attraction of this restaurant are the little drops of heaven called Chocolate Momos. These bite-sized, round balls stuffed with chocolate sauce and served with chocolate and strawberry syrup is an original recipe of Bon Appetit. You can eat them as appetizers, desserts or whenever you want and they will never disappoint.
#4 Gesmo Restaurant German Bakery, Fort Road
Tucked away in the Old Fort road, the green wooden windows of German Bakery attract you instantly. Once inside, the place takes you back in time to a typical early 19th century European kitchen.
The menu is vast; Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, European, sweets, savouries and counting. But I suggest, skip the Chinese and Tibetan because there are several other places that offer them.
I visited this restaurant on the day of Budhh Purnima, which is a very auspicious occasion in Ladakh. All restaurants and eateries serve vegetarian food on this particular day. So, on the table was Butter Paneer Masala, Veg Shashlik and chocolate croissant.
The Butter Paneer Masala was the best I’ve ever had. It was sweet and spicy, but not tangy! The sweetness came from the onions, which were fabulously used as an important part of the recipe, while pepper adds the spicy flavour to the dish. But like I mentioned earlier, it’s not tangy.
The veg Shashlik had chunky pieces of paneer, smoked and basked perfectly. Served with veggies, rice and tomato puree, it’s a complete meal in itself. The chocolate croissant available here is a good way to end your meal.
#3 Chopsticks Noodle Bar, Fort Road
Located a few strides ahead of German Bakery, Chopsticks serves some really mean Pan Asian rice, noodles and gravy. From Japanese to Indonesian, the food is pretty good and you can put your money on all the dishes available. And obviously, as the name suggests, you can eat all their food with ‘chopsticks’.
Amongst the food available here, the Wantons and Honey and Chilly Chicken/Baby Corn is something that will satisfy your hunger in the first helping. But you’ll need a second or even a third to satisfy your taste buds, that’s how delicious it is!
Again the dish that steels the show is the Chopsticks special Chocolate Chilly Spring Rolls. Pretty similar to the chocolate momos at Bon Appetit, except the after taste that hits the back of your throat is that of green chilly.
#2 Café Cloud; Leh-Manali Highway, Thiksey
A cold and windy 30-minute drive from Leh to Thiksey will take you to Café Cloud. Great ambience, even better food! Every dish on the menu is awesomely perfect at Café Cloud. The menu has Indian, European and fast food like burgers and fries. They serve breakfast, which again is Indian and European.
The pizzas here are to die for! I’ve had pizzas in a lot of cities in India, and this one definitely ranks in the top three. Thin-crust, fresh veggies and a generous usage of cheese, every bite of the pizza causes a ‘foodgasm’.
The Fish Burger and the Classic Roast Chicken are the other dishes that will make you forget your to-do list and simply indulge! There is no ‘school like old school’ and the Classic Roast Chicken is as old school as it can get. Three well-cooked luscious pieces of chicken, sautéed veggies, mash potato and a dark sauce that is made of chicken broth. No more explanation needed!
The Fish Burger again is delicious. The patty is crispy from outside and soft, flaky and fresh from inside. Accompanied with onions and tomatoes, it’s just how a burger should be.
#1 Kashmiri Wazwan, Nowshera Bazar
This is probably the most unassuming eatery in Leh. And you might retreat after a first look, but don’t! Once you step inside, the food is so overwhelmingly delicious that you will not want to leave. All you would want to do is tell the server ‘bhaijaan, ek aur tikka’.
Located close to the Nowshera market entrance, you have to make an effort to find this place or you may easily miss it. As the name suggests, this shop serves Kashmiri food, not quite sure if it was Wazwan, but mouthwatering nonetheless.
Like the picture shows, the tikkas, botis and sheeks are served on skewers, unlike other places that serve just the pieces. The fun of ‘un-skewering’ hot pieces of meat on a cold Leh evening doubles the joy of eating here. As far as the taste is concerned, it’s beautiful! Tender pieces of barbequed meat, topped with some spicy red chutney and served with roti; you can’t really go wrong with that. Even as you watch it being cooked, you’re almost certain it will satisfy all your senses!
In addition to the barbeques, there are few gravy dishes like the Gushtaba, Ristha and Roghan Josh that are served with rice. Skip the Ristha and other gravies, and go straight for the Rogan Josh. I cannot describe the taste. The meat is incredibly well-cooked and the gravy has the fat of the meat in it. That is what makes it hard to describe; it’s something that should be experienced. All I can say is that no fine dine or 5 star can match this kind of food!
So next when you are in Leh, make sure to go on a binge-spree in these fab five eateries. If you think that we have missed out on a place that deserves to be on this list, please do share the name in the comments section!
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About The Author
A producer and a director by profession, he stands by the statement that, “You don’t always need to have a direction, just make sure you have a goal.” With a passion for photography and the natural inclination towards all food in the world (he’s not a vegetarian), travelling is what he lives for. Not a man to keep his knowledge to himself, he imparts it to students over the weekend in interactive sessions on video production. You may follow him on Instagram @moitzzz