From Simkot to the Hilsa border, the socalled Kailash Trail along the Upper Karnali, there are some tea shops that cater for travellers.
The tea shops are located on the main trailside at (from Simkot) Simkot Lagna, Upper Dandaphaya, Machgaon, Daraphuri, Lower Kermi, Muchu and Hilsa. There used to be more of these shops, but the maoist have forced closing of several such capitalist-inspired activities and chased away most of the potential customers...
The travellers frequenting these shops are mainly traders going up and down this route with pack animals, and a few tourists. Locals take tea and perhaps instant noodle soups here, while the tourists seem to hit the Lhasa beer and Chinese pepsi, fanta and sprite.
No food is available apart from the occasional stack of instant noodle packets. If you pre-order (your trekking company may do so) by sending a runner ahead, there will be local staples available some places. Otherwise, the tea shop owner may be willing to cook your food for a fee if you bring it yourself. Beware of hygienic standards.
Food in Humla is marked by the divide betweeen bhate culture (mainstream Nepali culture of rice-eaters) and lthe ocal food habits where rice isn't a common feature. Highland rice is grown up to Jadkholsi village a day's walk northwest along Karnali river from Simkot, but it is not a dominant food crop anywhere in Humla. Neither is makai, corn. Both of these crops closely identified by mainstream national culture are imported here by emergency food supplies and subsidised helicopter freight runs from Surkhet.
Local menus vary by altitude and ethnicity, but by and large concentrated around grains such as barley, wheat, buckwheat, and two types of millet, and potatoes, some turnip-like root crops and radishes, beans that should be considered a place in the hall of fame - very tasty beans! - and a variety of local leaf, seed and vegetable crops. Protein in the form of eggs and meat is uncommon on the daily menu, but feature as celebratory meals or in the form of strips of dried meats. Chickens and eggs are imported from the lowlands by plane or helicopter cargo and fetch a high price. Poultry is generally not common, but goats, chyangra goats and sheep are very common. Cattle and yaks are also seen. Appels ar grown here and there, and walnuts and peaches grow wild.
Favorite Dish: Locker - buckwheat pancakes with honey for breakfast. Gives an extra spark and fuel for the day's uphills.
Thukpa, a home-made soup made from wheat home and hand-made noodles with mixed vegetables and fresh chyangra meat.
The food and all apart, the restaurant kitchen window of the Nepal Trust Guest house is worth a look. It is a window/porthole scavenged from a Twin Otter plane that failed to stop soon enough at the end of the runway. Fits right in! Let me hasten to say that it is not a death memorial - everybody on board the flight survived, albeit with limbs and ribs and stuff in somewhat funny angles afterwards.
Favorite Dish: Oh, yeah - food, too! I'll go for the thukpa again. And locker with hooney and some apple slices for breakfast.
Restaurants in Simkot? That is close to a joke, but look beyond the surface and a few places may be found that serves up good meals. You will find some established eateries in the main intersections of the Simkot alleys and some slightly more peripheral drinking establishments. None of these reach up to a Michelin star, but they will have to do...
They will generally serve up daal bhaat, but you will notice that the bhaat (cooked rice) is of terrible quality. It is in fact the cheapest and lowest quality rice available in the Terai (Nepalganj, Surkhet) shipped in by helicopter or fixed wing cargo flights, subsidized by the government. A good lesson to be learned is that the local food crops are nutritious and good tasting, but generally not served up in eateries. Some of the best beans and bean soup (daal) in Nepal comes from these upper Karnali parts. As an alternative to the low-down daal bhaat sabzi/tarkari you may pre-order a super good daal bhaat and specify what you want, say chyangra fried meat, Simkot beans, papar-ko roti (buckwheat bread) etc. If you are not into the rice and beans schedule, there will always be variations of instant noodles soups with something extra thrown in; an egg (from Nepalganj!) or some sukuti meat, saag spinach or the like. Going local, healty, nutritious and beyond the regualr restaurants, try local - local - thukpa. This is Tibetan-style noodle soup with home and hand made noodles, a goat or sheep meat broth, and whatever available thrown in. This is probably the best you can eat in the whole of Humla.
There is one restaurant that stands out: the one of Nepal trust Guest House. See separate tip on this.