SEAN M. PETERS | TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2017
Connecting Bridges, a Nepalese restaurant operated by Ashak Chipalu and his mother Rose, is nearly set to open its doors in Northside. It will take over the location formerly occupied by Melt. (Melt is reopening in a new whitebox space in The Gantry, and is expected to open this spring.)
“We are very close to opening,” Ashak says, as he and his mother hand out samples at his family’s food stand at Findlay Market. “We have done all of the interiors already. Our last health permit and our building permits are left, but other than that, everything is ready in the space.”
Bridges started out at Findlay Market, and the family continues to operate a food stand there. The Chipalus are no strangers to Northside: last year, they occasionally set up a food stand inside Urban Artifact to sell food to hungry patrons.
At a glance, Nepalese food is a balancing act between familiar Chinese takeout and Indian curries, but once sampled, the flavors of Nepal impart a spicy South Asian smokiness that levitates healthy, brilliantly simple ingredients.
“Our country is a mountainous country, so the different belts have different vegetation in the same way we have different tribes and different languages,” Rose says. “There are something like 100 spoken languages. Different belt, different tradition, different language, different culture.”
The Chipalus are of the Newari tribe, found in the valley of Kathmandu. The food offered at Bridges characterizes some of the unique aspects of their tribe’s culinary heritage.
“For side dishes, we have an authentic Newari tribe potato salad we call aloo walla,” Ashak says. “It’s very simple, very popular, we have spicy and mild. Very healthy for you.”
While retaining Newari tradtions, Bridges also offers items like a bacon, potato and cheese samosa — a dish made to cater to old school Cincinnati diners. There will also be potato and cheese or a chicken tikka masala and rice samosa; there will also be vegan options like potato with peas and carrots.
“We always come to Findlay Market and Northside Farmers Market to shop, and these markets are very similar to the markets in Nepal, where people just walk in to buy their vegetables in an open bazaar,” Ashak explains. “The Melt space was open, I knew about that, and the landlord came into the market and he really liked what we were doing, so he offered the space. He has been really good to us. It’s been a good partnership and will be good for the years to come. We love Northside because our food really fits in with the neighborhood. The vibe is really chilled, the streets look just like some streets in Nepal and that really attracted us.”
Bridges, which will open in the next few weeks, will be BYOB until further notice. Keep tabs on Bridges' Facebook page for opening day details.