Located right beside Kirtipur’s mini ring road, Sa Sha restaurant is quite easy to find with its huge billboards. But first timers would do best by asking for directions. We were allured by the venue as soon as we stepped in — there were shacks in the open air, some single storeyed and others with two storeys. These shacks had thatched roofs, with straw mats, and cushions clothed in traditional black-and-red strewn around the floor. The ambience reminded us of a traditional Newari courtyard. The ambience was enhanced by the water filled kalash and the soothing music. Instead of a tap, there was a little well right at the centre where we could wash our hands.
The menu was one of the most impressive things about Sa Sha, and will be especially interesting to those not familiar with the Newari language and culture. It begins by explaining the meaning and importance of Sa Sha, which means in-laws’ house.
The menu goes on to promise to cater to us just as our in-laws would. In literary language, it explains the intricacies of each dish, and also their cultural significance, which is something that I have not found in any other menu. The spelling could do with a bit of editing though, as many Nepali words have been recorded in their vernacular pronunciation.
Keeping with the cultural theme of the restaurant, only traditional Newari dishes were available. We ordered several of these — Bara, Chatamari, Chhoyela and pickled peanuts and soya beans. The food arrived in quick succession, arranged on impressive copper plates with similar cutlery.
The Bara was well made, with plain lentil bread and an egg on top. The Mixed Chatamari looked the most impressive, as it had the egg sunny side up on top, and was surrounded by different types of meat. It tasted really delicious too, I ordered another plate as soon as I finished the first.
The Sandheko items were quite spicy, exactly what we needed on a lazy afternoon. The fried Alu was crisp and served with some kind of spicy powder. I most enjoyed the juicy Chhoyela, which had the perfect smattering of spices and chilli. We had a few complaints with the Yomari, though — the wrapper was thick and slightly hard, while the filling was practically dry.
The service was rather slow, and sometimes we had to repeat the requests for amenities like napkins and spoons several times. The lemon we asked for never came. The restaurant could do well by expanding its drinks menu, which right now is limited to sodas and beers. Also, there were no desserts on the menu except Yomari, and traditional Newari sweets like Lakhamari, would be a welcome addition.
Sa Sha is a nice place for you to relax and spend a summer afternoon with friends (only in summer, as I don’t know how well the open seating arrangement works in winter or monsoons). The seating arrangement is on the floor, which means that you are free to sit, lounge, or lie down as you like. For a while we were terrified by a mosquito infestation, until a polite attendant brought out a mosquito coil. The slow, instrumental music adds to the relaxed atmosphere. If you like a bit of culture with your dining, visit Sa Sha for a feel.