Tham Magas, Kathmandu Restaurant - 9-10-2020

Owner Tham Magas behind the counter at Kathmandu Restaurant in St. Albans, which specializes in Indian and Nepali cuisine.

ST. ALBANS — Area residents longing for chicken tikka masala or a samosa no longer need to make the trek to Burlington.

Kathmandu Restaurant, specializing in Indian and Nepali cuisine, is open seven days a week in the St. Albans Plaza from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Owner Tham Magas opened the restaurant in May in partnership with his sister-in-law, who owns a restaurant in Montpelier.

The timing was tough, given the ongoing pandemic and the economic hardship it has caused.

“It’s a really hard time to open a new business,” he said.

For restaurants like Magas’s there are a number of additional rules limiting how many people can be in the restaurant at one time and requiring additional cleaning and other measures.

It was also Magas’s first time working in a restaurant.

He emigrated to the U.S. from Nepal in 2012 with his family, several of whom work in the restaurant with him.

Magas worked in manufacturing until his sister-in-law convinced him to try the restaurant business. The transition has been a little hard, he admitted.

Although he lives in the Burlington area, Magas said they decided to open a restaurant in St. Albans because there were no other Indian or Nepali restaurants in the area.

Business, he said, has been okay.

Area residents like the chicken and lamb dishes, and some try the goat options, he said. They also tend to like their meals milder than Magas and his family make for themselves. “Nepalese people, Indian people like spicy,” he said.

His personal favorites are the lamb korma, which is pieces of lamb cooked with a puree made of cashew nuts, saffron, coconut milk and spices, and lollipop chicken, fried drumsticks glazed with soy sauce, garlic and ginger.

For bread, Magas recommends the Garlic Naan, which is baked in a tandoor oven, and allo kulcha, a whole wheat bread stuffed with mildly spiced potatoes and onions.

There’s also an extensive vegetarian menu and a Nepali thali. Thali, which means plate, refers to a traditional meal from Southeast and South Asia in which several dishes are served in separate bowls placed together on a round platter. Kathmandu offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions, giving guests the chance to try smaller servings of a number of dishes.

Asked if it is a challenge working with family, Magas said, “It’s good.”

There are “a lot of things we miss” about Nepal, he said.

But there are things he likes about Vermont, such as the seasons. “It’s peaceful,” Magas said.

Kathmandu’s menu and information on ordering takeout may be found at kathmandukitchenvt.com.

The restaurant is also open for properly spaced indoor dining.

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