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San Francisco restaurant Base Camp has Nepal journey on menu

San Francisco restaurant Base Camp has Nepal trip on menu


It is simply essentially the most distinctive menu merchandise in all of San Francisco: a $2,000 journey to Nepal.

On the menu at Base Camp, a Nepalese restaurant within the Mission, proprietor Suraksha Basnet provides chow mein (a typical “avenue meals” in her nation), bara (spiced yellow lentil pancake), pork stomach bhutuwa (which isn’t usually present in different regional cuisines of Nepal) and pakku (goat meat marinated over two days in mustard oil and different spices, then sluggish cooked in a brass pot). The dishes mirror her expertise dwelling in Nepal’s capital metropolis, Kathmandu. 

She additionally provides one other solution to discover the sights and sounds of her dwelling nation: a visit, with herself as a part of the group.


Basnet, now 32, grew up within the japanese a part of Nepal through the nation’s civil conflict from 1996 to 2006, when the Communist Social gathering of Nepal labored to overthrow the monarchy that had dominated the nation since 1768. “It was chaotic,” she mentioned. “At the back of my head, [me and] my associates, all of us knew we had been going to go away in the end.”

She went to boarding faculty in Darjeeling, India, and ultimately made her solution to Kathmandu for highschool and school. Her dad and mom utilized for asylum in the USA in 2012, once they visited Basnet’s sister for her school commencement in North Carolina. In November 2013, Basnet and the remainder of her household, together with her dad and mom, settled within the East Bay.

After attaining her work visa two weeks after transferring right here, Basnet began her American restaurant profession as a busser at Skates on the Bay in Berkeley. After 5 years of onerous work and saving cash, she determined it was time to take a threat and open her personal spot. 

She opened Dancing Yak (280 Valencia St.) in 2018, showcasing in style Nepalese dishes like curries and momos (Nepalese dumplings), then a yr later opened Base Camp, an try to talk extra to her expertise in Kathmandu, particularly.  

“I grew up round eating places. Cooking is a part of the tradition for a Nepalese girl. However not in a nasty approach. We simply learn to cook dinner from a younger age and it’s all the time one thing I’ve loved,” she says. “I believe at the back of my head I all the time knew that I wished to have a restaurant.”

Base Camp’s meals menu highlights what she ate in Kathmandu — fewer curries, extra small plates, which she loved usually on the cafes that impressed her second restaurant. 

Owner Suraksha Basnet pictured in the dining room at Base Camp Restaurant on Dec. 10, 2021 in San Francisco.

Proprietor Suraksha Basnet pictured within the eating room at Base Camp Restaurant on Dec. 10, 2021 in San Francisco.

PATRICIA CHANG/Particular to SFGATE

The inside is a bit slice of Nepal. A conventional, hand-carved wood Buddha altar hangs on the again wall as form of a centerpiece. The meticulous craftsmanship is obvious, even from distant. Black and white photographs of her nation and her folks adorn the encompassing partitions, in addition to different Nepalese artwork items. Purple tassels dangle across the ceiling, juxtaposing with the yellow window shades and throw pillows on the couches for the again tables.

Having each eating places within the Mission was all the time her first selection. “I felt just like the folks there would perceive who I used to be and what I used to be making an attempt to do,” she says. “I’m making an attempt to painting myself and my journey from the ambiance to the meals and all the things else. I simply really feel actually related to the Mission.”

The dining room at Base Camp restaurant on Dec. 10, 2021 in San Francisco.

The eating room at Base Camp restaurant on Dec. 10, 2021 in San Francisco.

PATRICIA CHANG/Particular to SFGATE

“Each time I inform folks I’m from Nepal, I really feel like they have a look at me with a sure sort of love and respect,” she continues. “We’re recognized for our hospitality. We’re recognized for welcoming folks. It simply makes me attempt to be higher once I’m speaking to others.”

Now Basnet needs to indicate those who hospitality in individual. So she added a visit to Nepal as certainly one of Base Camp’s restaurant choices. And never a metaphorical one — an precise, real-life expedition.

The final time Basnet visited her dwelling nation in January and February of this yr, she introduced again a big batch of timmur, a standard spice in Nepal, however not usually discovered within the U.S. Whereas she was there, she witnessed how the pandemic impacted Kathmandu’s tourism business; lots of her associates work within the business, and Basnet herself was a translator after school. 

Owner Suraksha Basnet at Base Camp Restaurant on Dec. 10, 2021 in San Francisco.

Proprietor Suraksha Basnet at Base Camp Restaurant on Dec. 10, 2021 in San Francisco.

PATRICIA CHANG/Particular to SFGATE

Together with her means and connections again dwelling — and with out the assistance of a 3rd get together tourism firm — she and her associates got here up with a plan to begin their very own vacationer journey. They known as it “Expedition Nepal.”

Whereas Basnet is not going to be guiding the journey herself (as she doesn’t have an energetic information license), the expedition takes vacationers to Kathmandu to discover the town as she skilled it, in addition to a trek to Khumbu Glacier on the base of Mount Everest. “It’s essential that [my friends and I] are doing this as a result of we all know the place to eat, we all know the place to go for drinks,” she defined. “And [when you are trekking near the Himalayas] we all know find out how to care for you, find out how to get acclimated to the altitude, what tempo you could stroll at and what you could eat.”

Whereas initially it was a artistic approach to assist her associates come again from the worst of the pandemic, it’s now additionally serving to her hook up with the life-style she was used to in Nepal: certainly one of connecting with folks, certainly one of neighborhood.

“At a restaurant right here [in America] you come, you eat, you go,” she mentioned. “What I’m making an attempt to do at Base Camp, with Expedition Nepal, is totally different. I’m making an attempt to create some sort of connection as a result of that’s what I’m used to in Nepal.”

Decorations at Base Camp Restaurant on Dec. 10, 2021 in San Francisco.

Decorations at Base Camp Restaurant on Dec. 10, 2021 in San Francisco.

PATRICIA CHANG/Particular to SFGATE

Basnet was capable of finding her neighborhood within the East Bay, the place she says there are a lot of Nepalese households who reside in Richmond, El Sobrante and Pinole. She has seen the variety of Nepalese households on her avenue improve dramatically over time. That’s how immigrant communities work: Nobody is aware of who was the primary to reach, however phrase of mouth results in increasingly more folks displaying up.

However whereas Basnet feels a way of dwelling in her Richmond neighborhood, some issues won’t ever be as they had been again dwelling. “Coming right here and dealing in a really fast-paced surroundings, a really aggressive surroundings, it makes me go,” she says. “However rising up in a rustic with a tradition to not rush into issues, it’s a bit powerful to stability typically.”

April 18, 2022, can’t come quickly sufficient for Basnet. That’s when the inaugural expedition begins. She’s desperate to make long-lasting friendships. She’s anticipating these trekkers to come back again to Base Camp in San Francisco and grow to be regulars of each the restaurant and the Nepalese way of life. That’s her finish purpose, a minimum of.

Framed photographs in the dining room at Base Camp Restaurant on Dec. 10, 2021 in San Francisco.

Framed images within the eating room at Base Camp Restaurant on Dec. 10, 2021 in San Francisco.

PATRICIA CHANG/Particular to SFGATE

However most of all, she’s excited to return dwelling. 

She is used to native faces. Folks waving at one another once they stroll right into a restaurant. All people figuring out everyone, even the kitchen workers. She will’t wait to be enveloped by the nice and cozy hospitality her folks give.

Regardless of the challenges that Nepal has endured, Basnet is wanting ahead to the calmness her nation brings to her. “What I miss essentially the most typically is the sitting and doing nothing. It’s simple to go over that,” she reminisced. “Typically it looks like regardless of how a lot I would like, I by no means catch up.”

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