Walking into the first Nepal off the streets of Chungdae Jungmun is like walking into sunlight after days spent inside. You have to blink a little and adjust to the color spectrum that is so different from the dreary greyness of the buildings outside. It's not that the restaurant is covered in kitsch decorations, but the bright reds, yellows, purples and blues that scatter the tables and walls are enough to make you realise that you definitely aren't in a Korean restaurant. If the decorations weren't enough to make you realise that, perhaps the Bollywood movie playing in the background will help, or the waiters with Hindi lilts rather than than Korean that you have probably become accustomed to.
Once you have settled into your seat (might I suggest taking the couches at the back if they are open), you open your menu and find a world of spices awaiting you. From starters of samoosas to curries and kebabs (and by kebab I mean shishkabob) to naan, desserts and tea, there is something delicious in every facet of the menu, you just have to find one to your liking. But even if your choice isn't quite what you were expecting, which I will admit it sometimes isn't, the friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere will have you coming back to try again. I can almost guarantee it.
Favorite Dish: I almost always order the same thing when I go to the First Nepal, and it isn't because their other dishes aren't good, but because when I find something great, I tend to stick with it.
When I am starving, I start with a plate of samoosas (it comes with two) usually shared with a friend. These potato filled pockets are not quite what I am used to, but are delicious nevertheless, and the green dipping sauce that is provided compliments them perfectly.
Once those are polished off, it is time for my Chicken Saag, chicken in a creamy spinach curry. I do not like spicy food, but the chicken saag provides me with the perfect amount of bite, just enough to keep a glass of water at my side throughout the meal, and keep me going back for more.
I often end my meal with a cup of Masala tea - a tea made with spices, much like Chai and just as fragrant.
Chungdae Jungmun is filled with Foreigner Bars, some more popular than others, but my favourite by far has got to be Pearl Jam.
I can't quite place my finger on what it is that makes this specific pub special or why I want to go there more than the others. It's smaller than the others and, without a pool or foozball table and with no working darts, there isn't all that much to do there. And yet, whenever I go to Chungdae, I inevitably wind up there until early hours of the morning.
I have a feeling that the food has something to do with it. Who doesn't get a bit of the munchies after a couple of drinks? And Pearl Jam makes GREAT food - ask anyone who has eaten their Quesidillas, their Philly Cheese Steak Sub or their Burritoes and they will tell you that there is nowhere better (not in Chungdae at least). Maybe it's also the fact that the service comes with a smile - the bartenders are all very friendly, and though some of their English is better than others, they are all very helpful and kind. And then there's the owner, Andrew, who will always greet you with a big smile or a hug, even if you have only met him once before. Andrew has seen me do some embarassing things like dancing on tables, and has never mentioned it to anyone, so that goes to show that he is more than just the manager of the bar you are in. He's also a friend.
If good people and good food aren't enough to tempt you, perhaps the prospect of live music can. The bar tries to get bands playing at least once a week, and there is a stage set up at the back of the room along with a microphone and some guitars, so if you decided that you wanted a go, there would be nothing but your own inhibitions to stop you!
So if you are looking for a good time, make a stop into Pearl Jam. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Dress Code: You can wear whatever you like