arriving in the states in 1995 from his native Nepal. Since the late 1990s, he'd managed Shalimar on Main Street, but "being a leader and wanting to be in charge," he wanted his own place.
The restaurant with bright red awnings in the Courtyard Shops on Plymouth Road opened at the end of April. Cardamom has about sixty seats, with plans for thirty more on an outside patio. "We only had to do some cosmetic changes," Dhakal says, including more intimate overhead lighting, carpeting, and reupholstered booths--which he says made at least one surprised customer ask, "This was a hamburger place?" (The former tenant was Famous Hamburgers.)
The scent of Indian spices, freshly ground and roasted by Nepalese chef Anjan Lama--a longtime friend of Dhakal who moved to Ann Arbor from Baltimore for the venture--greets customers. Dhakal says the menu items, which are "made from scratch each day using fresh ingredients," were a sellout that first weekend. The momos, Nepalese steamed dumplings--an item he makes often at home for his young sons, Ravi and Sunil--are popular, he says, as is the goat curry. The menu also includes chicken, lamb, seafood, and vegetarian curries, and there are other entrees and salads.