Gangtok on a platter: A foodie's guide to the cuisines of Sikkim

Author: Sourav Chettri
Date: 2021-02-10

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Sikkim's picturesque capital Gangtok is a hill station that's probably on every traveller's list. The majestic mountains, verdant valleys, and rich culture make the place worth visiting. The place is home to a diverse population such as the Tibetan, Nepali, and Bhutia community, and the diversity is well reflected in its cuisine, bestowing us with delicious delicacies that are lip-smackingly good!

Go through our diligently crafted list to clue up on the different kinds of cuisine available in Gangtok and the best places to enjoy them!

Nepalese Cuisine

If you think momos and dal bhat (lentils and rice) are all that Nepali cuisine has to offer then you're far from the truth. Sure dal bhat makes for the main component of a regular meal but leafy greens such as rayo saag (mustard greens) and iskus ko munta (squash leaves) always make their way to the plate. Dishes like gundruk ko jhol (fermented mustard green soup) and kalo dal (skinned black gram) can be hailed as the national dish. Proteins include chicken, mutton, pork, river fish, buffalo (buff), and beef. 

Not to forget the famous “sel roti,” which looks like a doughnut but is made up of rice flour. No Nepali festival is complete without sel roti. Locals enjoy this crunchy, sweet, and soft bread for breakfast and snacks. 

The Nepalese prefer their dishes plain and simple, with a focus primarily on the freshness of the ingredients.

Where to eat?

Nimtho: One of the most famous restaurants in Gangtok, Nimtho is best known for serving mouthwatering traditional Nepalese cuisine. You must try their chef's special “jhol momo” and “churpi-a-Sikkim.” Also, don't miss out on their best-selling Nepali thali (round platter). 

Price for two: INR 650 approx. Timing: 11:30 am to 12 am. Location: MG Marg Gangtok 


Nimtho; Nimtho's regular thali

Tibetan Cuisine 

No matter what food you try, your trip to Gangtok is incomplete without trying Tibetan food. Gangtok has a healthy population of Tibetan refugees and so it shouldn't be surprising to see Tibetan dishes on the menu. Items like shyaphale (fried meat pie), bhakthuk  (homemade macaroni in traditional soup), and thentuk (homemade pasta in traditional soup) are quite common in Gangtok’s restaurants. The impact of the cold weather is also reflected in the food habits of the Tibetans. The intake of dairy products such as fried milk curd, Tibetan cheese (made from yak milk), and salty milk tea with ghee seems to delight the locals and also keep them warm. Coming down to dessert, we have Ginseng fruit and a rice dish locally called “Zhuomazhesi,” which is prepared especially during festivals and marriage ceremonies. 

Where to eat?

Taste of Tibet: Dive into the delicious Tibetan delicacies at Taste of Tibet where the decor is simple but cohesive. Must-try dishes from the menu are chicken momo, beef momo, gyathuk and thenthuk (noodle soup), and shyaphale (Tibetan meat pasty). 

Price for two: INR 300 approx. Timing: 11:30 am to 9 pm. Location: MG Marg Gangtok.

Taste of TibetBeef dry fry

Taste of Tibet; Beef dry fry

Bhutanese Cuisine 

If the idea of smoked meat, the dried flavor of red chilly, and the creaminess of cheese fancy you, then Bhutanese cuisine certainly won’t let you down. Vegetarians can also breathe an air of relief as green veggies like spinach, river weed, and green beans are commonly eaten. Red rice and buckwheat are staples in a Bhutanese platter.

Ema datshi, a spicy stew made up of chillies and local yak cheese, holds the title for “The national dish of Bhutan.” There are different versions of ema datshi. Although the base of the stew remains the same, it differs on individual preferences. Some prefer adding potatoes to it (kewa datshi), some enjoy it with mushrooms (shamu datshi), and meat lovers prefer it with dried beef (shakam datshi). We recommend you try it all and pick your favourite.  

Where to eat?

Kundey Restaurant: Kundey settles the cravings for Bhutanese cuisine for the people of Gangtok. The place is synonymous with authentic Bhutanese food. The arrangement is simple and straightforward, setting the focus primarily on a good food experience. One can taste a variety of datshi, each equally delicious and different from the other. Their Bhutanese thali (round platter) will take you on a flavourful journey to Bhutan, so make sure to treat your taste buds with that as well. 

Price for two: INR 600 approx. Timing: 10 am to 9 pm. Location: Deurali, Gangtok