Situated on the banks of the River Ganga at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh is Mong Cafe. Framed posters in Korean adorn the walls, and the menu offers a selection of Korean dishes.
The host, with ease, switches between speaking to tourists in Korean and interacting with others in Hindi and Bhojpuri. What is surprising is that the family that runs this restaurant is local to Varanasi, and has never been to Korea.
On how the owners of the restaurant learned the cuisine, they say some learning came from a few Korean tourists, while a majority was from the internet.
The aunt-niece duo manages the kitchen, and two brothers take care of hospitality.
Since Lord Rama finds mention in Korean mythology, several tourists from the country travel to India, and especially to Varanasi, and many say a visit to Mong Cafe is a must, driven by nostalgia about the cuisine. A unique feature is that many tourists that dine here put up their photos on a huge wooden frame hanging on the wall.
This Varanasi cafe is hugely popular. The cafe owners were initially boatmen, but have turned their fortunes around since setting up the exotic food restaurant. The family has renovated its home to make space for the eatery in the living room. The kitchen stands adjoining the eating area, which also allows the family to interact with the guests.
A range of books in both English and Korean sit on the shelves, giving the place more appeal. Many books showcase the places to visit in India. Priced fairly reasonably, the restaurant has a rating of 4.5 on food app Zomato, and has a large fan following.
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