‘Mu Kimchi’ is a super popular restaurant in Sikkim – serving authentic Korean cuisine. With its cozy welcoming ambiance, this place is a must-visit for all Korean food lovers for a fun night out with family and friends. Customers from all over the world – including Koreans, have been spotted in this happening spot in Gangtok.
We recently chatted with the owner – Nitesh Chamling, a young entrepreneur from Gangtok, who has been running this restaurant for the past 6 years. A Civil engineering grad from Bangalore, he left his job in the city to pursue his dream of opening a restaurant in his hometown. Over a quick chat, Nitesh gives us a run-through of the top 5 Korean cuisines to try, his favorite leisure activities, and more.
Nitesh Chamling – Owner of ‘Mu Kimchi’ restaurant, Sikkim
Hi Nitesh, welcome to R&L! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Nitesh: My name is Nitesh Chamling, I come from a small town called Temi in South Sikkim now I reside in Gangtok. I did my schooling in Sikkim and Darjeeling, after that, I did a Civil Engineering course from Bangalore. After completing the course I worked in Bangalore for one and half years and then came back to Sikkim in the year 2015 to start something of my own as I realized that I am a person who can’t work under someone else.
How would your friends describe you?
Nitesh: This was a tough question to answer on my own, so I took input from a couple of my good friends who’ve known me for a long time. They described me as an adventure junkie, enterprising, and a person to go for when all doors are closed. Witty, cheerful, and a caring person and above all a brother. A person who believes in the saying ‘always be polite, don’t let the world make you hard, don’t let the pain make you hate’. One of my childhood friends Sunny says “I believe no amount of bitterness can take away sweetness from Nitesh.”
Tell us about ‘Mu Kimchi’. Why Korean? How did your fascination and exposure to Korean cuisine come by.. any interesting background story you’d like to share?
Nitesh: When I was in Bangalore, I dabbled with a few ideas and finally zeroed in on getting into the restaurant industry as I saw a gap in fine dining options in Gangtok. And most importantly, my sister Binita Chamling has always been very supportive and encouraged me to pursue my dream.
Nitish Chamang (R) with sister Binita Chamling (L) – a constant support and cheerleader for Nitish.
“I chose to go ahead with Korean cuisine given the ever-growing popularity of K-pop and K-drama in the region and the fondness for Korean food. So here I am, on the sixth year running ‘Mu Kimchi’ – the first authentic Korean restaurant in the region.”
Korean customers enjoying authentic Korean food in ‘Mu Kimchi’ Gangtok, Sikkim
Travelers from Germany enjoying their meal at ‘Mu Kimchi’
Tell us some interesting insight into Korean cuisine.
Nitesh: Korean cuisine is largely based on rice, noodles, vegetables, and meat. Kimchi or fermented cabbage, one of the main side dishes has been categorized as a superfood.
“I think Korean food involves lots of participation like a live barbeque on the table which makes it very unique and also enjoyable. In addition, Korean food stands out from other cuisines as it comes with multiple side dishes or banchan; whenever you visit any authentic Korean restaurant various side dishes will be served before the meal in small bowls.”
We can see that you have a lot of international customers coming from across the globe – including Koreans! Do people in Sikkim love Korean food? What are their favorite TOP 5 items from your menu?
Nitesh: Yes, we have a very positive response from the people of Gangtok. Mostly, we have young crowds who love Kpop music and Korean Dramas. The past year I have seen a growing trend of families and both domestic and international tourists visiting Mu Kimchi owing to the ever-growing popularity, fascination, and curiosity for Korean culture.
Top 5 items loved by customers of ‘Mu Kimchi’ Gangtok:
- Samgyapsal – Live Pork bbq
- Bulgogi – Live Chicken, pork, fillet, mushroom bbq
- Dolsot Bibimbap – Rice cooked in a stone pot and mixed with an assortment of meat and vegetable of your choice
- Kimchi Jjigae/Budae Jjigae – Kimchi stew
1) Kimbap or Gimbap (김밥) is a Korean seaweed rice roll filled with a variety of fillings. Gim or Kim is dried sheets of seaweed.
2) Grilled Pork belly ‘Samgyeopsal’ is another popular menu item at ‘Mu Kimchi’
3) ‘Bulgogi’ means fire meat. It is often made with tender parts of beef, pork or chicken served with lettuce and other side dishes.
4) ‘Dolsot Bibimbap’ or Korean Stone Pot Rice Bowl, is a sizzling rice meal cooked in a hot stone pot, with an assortment of meat and vegetables of your choice.
5) Kimchi Jjigae and Budae Jjigae – Kimchi stews loaded with Kimchi, noodles, cabbage, etc.
What is your favorite leisure activity?
Nitesh: I love cars, bikes, and gadgets. I loved riding my HD Street Rod. When I have time, I go for bike rides with my fellow mates and when I am at home I like to play Fifa, UFC on the Play Station.
What’s your best childhood memory?
Nitesh: My best childhood memories are the times which I spent with my grandma.. those days were the golden days of my life.
What is that one book or movie that has changed your perspective on life?
Nitesh: It would be one of my favorite movies ‘The Pursuit of Happyness‘… it’s an amazing movie based on the true story of successful businessman Chris Gardner. It’s melodramatic, inspirational, and a sad heartfelt movie. It’s about a man never giving up and finding true happiness in life. So if you haven’t watched it yet, do check it out.
One last Q before you leave. If you’re having a bad day, how do you deal with it?
Nitesh: If I am having a bad day I spend time with my girlfriend because she has this positivity about her that is so infectious. And she understands me so well and motivates me to keep moving forward and never give up whatever the situation.