A taste of Nepal right outside Yokosuka’s gates
Just a minute walk from Yokosuka Naval Base’s Womble Gate, the newly opened Gorkha Palace is a cozy Indian-Nepalese restaurant offering tasty fare. Upon hearing about it, I immediately made arrangements to pay them a visit.
On entering the distinctive brickwork façade, I was welcomed by courteous staff in traditional attire. A nearby corner bar and adjacent shelves were fully stocked with various liquors and spices. It all added to a stylish interior of muted colors accentuated by a large picture of the Himalayas on the center wall.
Named after the old capital of Nepal and birthplace of owner Loknath Wosti, Gorkha Palace boasts authentic tastes from his homeland. He says his Nepalese and Indian cooks use more than 60 different spices from the mountains of India and Nepal to cook their signature dishes.
His new restaurant’s aim, he added, is to provide the same quality and service as five-star hotels in India and Nepal.
I was overwhelmed by more than a hundred items listed on the menu. They include 12 different roasted tandoori dishes as well as nine chicken, four mutton, 12 vegetable and five seafood curries, and six types of naan. There are also a variety of a la carte selections such as mixed grill combo plates, lamb chops and desserts. A children’s plate is also available. Most of these dishes can be ordered with varying levels of spiciness to meet individual tastes.
Among the restaurant’s many dishes, Wosti recommended the butter chicken masala, which I gladly sampled, along with what the menu listed as “healthy vegetable curry.”
The roasted chicken meat in the masala was some of the most tender I have ever had; it practically melted in my mouth. The vegetable curry was more of a “saag,” or pureed spinach, curry with a silken texture and rich flavor that would likely appeal even to someone who is not a big vegetable fan.
Both of these curries were extremely delicious with a deeper richer taste and a milder finish than typical Indian curry. I also sampled the chicken tikka – chunks of boneless chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, and baked in a tandoori oven. It was exquisitely flavorful with a tender yet meaty texture.
My meal was complimented with fresh springy naan and a traditional yogurt “lassi” soft drink.
For first-timers, I recommend visiting this restaurant during lunchtime when you’ll be able to enjoy various lunch sets from only 690 yen to 1,290 yen ($6 to $10.40). They come with your choice of one or two curries, salad, soup, naan or rice, and a drink. Extra naan and rice are even free.
Gorkha Palace also offers a variety of beverages from more than 20 different countries.
“I recommend Indian and Nepalese beers, such as Mustang, Nepal Ice and Gorkha,” Wosti said. “They taste great and go very well with the dishes we serve.”
English speakers can dine with ease at this restaurant as the menus are in both Japanese and English; the staff are bilingual as well. Actually, most of customers I saw there were Americans.
John Obrien, a sailor from Yokosuka Naval Base was one of them. He rated the restaurant, “10 out of 10.”
“A delicious mix of all different spices and flavors,” added his brother Michael. “We will definitely come back again.”
In fact, Wosti said it was an American service member who advised him to open his restaurant near the Navy base to attract some of its many sailors.
“When my American friend took me to Yokosuka, I thought, ‘this is definitely a suitable place to open a restaurant,’” said Wosti, who has two other restaurants in Yokosuka City. Turns out he was right. He adds that about 70 percent of his clientele overall are American.
So if you are looking for the exotic taste of Indian-Nepalese cuisine with some of the creature comforts of back home, consider Gorkha today.
Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (lunch), 4-11 p.m. (dinner)
Address: Jinesu Yokosuka 1F, 1-21 Otaki Cho, Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture (One minute from Yokosuka Naval Base’s Womble Gate)