The Aphrodisiac Restaurant

It is hard to forget a date in an aphrodisiac restaurant.

Mochitos. Photo courtesy of

I remember the day. 29th May 2011. A beautiful evening in Kathmandu. The threat of a strike lingered in the air, the Maoists promising bloodshed and chaos over the new constitution, their threats keeping people indoors and cars off the street. But Thamel was bustling with life, as usual, for the worst of the threat was over. I do not remember well, but the banda was supposed to (but largely didn’t) happen on the 28th — the day she came into Kathmandu. And so on the 29th I took her out to OR2K. Wow. I’ve never been to a place like that!

Magnificent chandeliers hang in the ceilings, like clusters of stars in a romance novel. The large windows let in a gentle breeze, that made the candles dance like fairies to the allure of traditional Nepali music, the sweet and soothing whispers from a sarangi, the gentle dum-dum-dum of the madal – the flutes that hooted like birds calling their lovers — the cigarette smoke hanging in the air — the scent of opium wafting in from the dark streets outside the restaurant, mixing in with the aroma of the food on the table, next to two mojitos whose straws touched each other — and her smell! The floor was wooden. We sat on rugs, the food on low tables. Her face looked like a full moon in the low lights. Her voice whispered into my ears as though she was providing lyrics to the jazz music of the live band.

Enjoying a meal at OR2K restaurant, Kathmandu

I’m trying to paint a picture with words, to make you feel what it was like in OR2K, and I’ve tried to put here pictures that would make you see the place — but nothing I say, no pictures I put here, will ever make you feel the place. Unless you go there.

Still, I can sum it all up with one word: aphrodisiac — the atmosphere, the food, the music, the lights, the beautiful girl sitting next to you, sipping a green drink called mojito, all combine in a mystic way to give a taste of wicked romance.

The paintings in OR2K give it a mystic feel.

I’ve never experienced another restaurant the way I experienced OR2K. The food in GAIA was great, as it was in Lamas, Mike’s Breakfast, Bhumis, Royal Thandoori, The Lunch Box — but nothing beats OR2K in atmosphere.

Dining in OR2K is ideal for groups, or just two lovers.

Since I came back to Uganda, I have tried to look for an OR2K equivalent in Kampala, but the eating places in Kampala are woefully lacking. They do try to create atmosphere with live band music — most of whose music are not captivating, and most of who mime rather than play actual music — and they try to make it romantic with dim lights from hurricane lamps and paraffin candles. Jazzville in Bugolobi did try to compete with OR2K, but the big open space in the hut makes it rather impersonal. You feel like you are in a stadium watching a concert. In OR2K, you feel like you are in a private party in someone’s living room. Lotus Mexicana also did try to impress me, but I did not like the music, which were mostly poorly done renditions of American music (can someone please tell these musicians that there’s more joy in listening to traditional African jazz?) and the toilet put me off completely. The sink was blocked and overflowing — don’t even want to think about it!

Khana Khazana on acacia avenue offered us an okayish atmosphere as well. I liked the fake waterfalls in the middle of the dining area, and the waiters who wore costumes as they served great food. But it was painful that the waiters had no idea what food they were serving — had probably never tasted half of the dishes on the menu. The food was marvelous, though. Sadly, the atmosphere fell short of being aphrodisiac.

And so I’m still searching for an equivalent to OR2K in Kampala. Somewhere I can go and enjoy good food, good music, great atmosphere, with the prettiest girl around — somewhere a doctor can order you to go instead of prescribing Viagra, or ginseng :-))

She’s looking bored at Jazzville, Bugolobi, in Kampala
Looking through the Menu of Lotus Mexicana restuarant.
The atmosphere aint so grand in Lotus Mexicana.
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