Overland Traveller



Chopsticks Noodle Bar, Leh

Chopsticks restaurant © Craig FastThere comes a point in every trip where you get sick, particularly in India. You can’t keep anything down and the thought of food reviles you. When that happens, you need a clean, trustworthy restaurant to put you back on the path to healthy functioning bowels.

That’s exactly what happened to me in Leh. After 24 hours of utter misery (I won’t go into details) followed by two days of nibbling cream crackers I desperately needed some goodness inside me. Most of Leh’s restaurants are fine when you’re in good health but I was craving fresh salad – something you’re strongly advised not to eat in India in case it’s been washed in dirty water.

What a relief to find Chopsticks Noodle Bar then. I felt my appetite come flooding back as I walked in to a Wagamama-ish lay out with large communal tables - when you’re ill away from home you crave familiar, homely foods. An unobtrusive flat-screen TV showed travel shows on mute, large Asian fans and prettily painted paper umbrellas decorate the walls and the toilets are the best in Leh.

Chopsticks restaurant © Craig FastThe menu is a joy, whatever the state of your digestive system. It covers the best of Asian food, including Thai, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese and (what Chopsticks really prides itself on) the best Ladakhi food in Leh. Chopsticks is the only place to eat skew (a vegetable soup with thumbnail shaped bits of pasta) and Ladakhis reputedly come here for the best momos in town.

I satisfied my craving for fresh leafy vegetables with the Thai Tuna Pasta Salad with Basil and Lemon Dressing. I could feel my strength return with every mouthful of broccoli, juicy tomato, shredded lettuce and flavoursome, juicy tuna chunks. The dressing had quite a kick to it, but nothing my rapidly recovering stomach couldn’t handle and even, shock horror, enjoy! Craig went for the Pad Thai, which slipped down a treat and other tempting dishes available include Chinese Wonton Noodle Soup, a variety of Thai curries, Tandoori Chicken, Singapore Mee Goreng and, for desert, Coconut Bananas with Caramel Sauce and Lychee with Ginger Syrup.

Chopstick sources its vegetables from the owner’s parents’ organic farm in near by Yortung. They’ve even managed to grow their own lemongrass and pak choi, produce not native to Ladakh but essential to many of the dishes on the menu. Meat is bought fresh from the market daily, with chicken delivered for dinner at about 6pm every day. The electricity supply in Leh is erratic at best, so the owner has chosen not to trust to the refrigerator, unlike many other restaurants in the vicinity.

Knowing all this background information finally made eating out a delight again. The only problem was choosing one dish from the mouth-watering array on offer and I’m still kicking myself that we didn’t discover this place sooner. For me, eating in Chopsticks was like the evolution of man in one sitting – I entered hunched over and grunting and left standing tall and capable of conversation.

Chopsticks Noodle Bar
Leh, India
Tel: (+91) 99069 70496


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Overland Traveller copyright © Emma Field 2010