Raji Khanal arrived in Australia from Nepal in 2001. He specifically travelled to these shores to study cooking, with the dream of one day becoming a qualified chef. What he probably hadn’t considered then was that one day he would have to add restaurateur to that dream. All of which came true. Raji is the owner of popular Niji Sushi Bar in Kingsford.
“I was born in a remote village in Nepal”, Raji explains. “Cooking was something I grew up with, helping my mother in the kitchen, then as I got older I realised it was something I wanted to do as a career.”
Being the owner of such a busy restaurant that caters for 100 people, Raji hung up his chef’s hat three years ago to concentrate on managing his restaurant.
Winner of Best Restaurant (for the third time) and Business of the Year in 2017, awarded by the Randwick City Business Excellence Awards, Niji is not only highly regarded in professional circles, but also with the locals too. “The kitchen is the heart of the restaurant, and our customers are the oxygen. We do it for them, and they respond by coming back, time and time again” said Raji.
And when you look at the menu you realise why Niji does have so many return visitors. From the crowd favourites of grain-fed wagyu beef with ama-yaki sauce, to nori tacos and sashimi that almost melts in your mouth, this food has to be tasted to be believed. “Our kitchen is staffed by exceptional sushi chefs, all experts in their own right” said Raji. And there’s enough of them too, with as many as eleven chefs cooking on a Saturday night.
Now that Raji has seen all his dreams come true, he is considering adding one more. “I’ve been thinking about maybe opening a Japanese restaurant in Nepal. Maybe one day, we’ll see.”