There was no shortage of surprises when I visited Gurkha, the reportedly best Nepalese place in Swindon.

Owner Suraj Bhandari promises previously unseen levels of authenticity at his restaurant not to be found anywhere else in the town, so I was excited to climb the steps with my friend on Monday night.

We sat in the corner in the shadow of an Everest wall print (a mountain unclimbable from the Chinese side - one of many new facts I learned on my visit).

The first surprise was Suraj ordering everything for us. He pushed the waiter aside and told us exactly what to get. 

I wish this would happen at every restaurant - if you do not like your order you have someone else to blame.

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Chaat, or snacks, are their speciality and he chose four: puri, chatpate, chicken lollipops and Nepal’s famous momo dumplings.

The chatpate was unanimously voted the best. A mixture of broken-up instant noodles, fresh veg, mixed in a spicy seasoning. It brought the tastebuds alive with a bit of hat and was a fun dish.

The puri were semolina shells filled with mashed potato and served with a cold coriander, mint and chilli soup to pour into the shell.

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Eaten in a mouthful, these refreshingly cracked in the mouth releasing the cool liquid.

The chicken lollipops were essentially fried chicken spiced with Szechuan chilli. The best part was the salsa-like sauce they were served with. Like all the starters they combined fresh and cooked elements deliciously.

Around this time Suraj joined us at our table.

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Like the dishes' flavours, the discourse varied wildly - at one point he suggested I be a journalist in Nepal where apparently they are much better paid.

Another fact: Before the telephone arrived in Nepal, villages would communicate by shouting to one another.

Gurkha Indian and Nepalese Restaurant named best in Swindon

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Unfortunately and inexplicably the momos never arrived - but I tried to turn this disappointment into a positive by saying it gave me a reason to return.

The momos, their most popular dish, are bulk-made in-house and then stored in dedicated freezers above the shop.

Spirits were raised by the arrival of the lamb handi (£11.50), a rich curry of lamb on the bone, served with jeera (cumin) rice (£3.95) and garlic naan (£3.50).

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This was the tastiest curry I can remember eating. Rich and deep in flavour with generous lamb portions, it was bowl-licking stuff.

My guest praised the non-oiliness of the dish, tipping it to prove his point. It went well with the bottled Nepalese beer served, also coincidentally called Gurkha (£5.95, 660ml)

Around 11.30pm some groups of young people arrived, diners, arriving to eat a few puri before moving on.

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Suraj explained lots of customers do this. They crawl from place to place with a few dishes at each. 

Last up was dessert - a grated carrot pudding with ice cream, and syrup-soaked fried balls - with ice cream.

Meanwhile, Suraj got out a map to show us Nepal’s geography. Mountainous in the north, flatter in the south.

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The second fried balls were my favourite. The carrot mixture is supposed to be handed down between generations, but I would have liked a bit more spice to bring it to life.

I have not tried Swindon’s other Nepalese offerings so cannot say if Gurkha is the “best”, but every dish was delicious, memorable and offered a fresh tasty surprise.

Suraj is a fountain of knowledge about Nepal, including its food and I would follow his advice on what to choose.

The food’s authenticity did not make it inaccessible and anyone who likes curry is bound to enjoy Gurkha - especially the lamb handi.

Gurkha is hidden at Byron Rd, Swindon SN1 3DQ, above Kaizen.