COMMUNITY standing will count for much in Winchester’s rapidly expanding Asian market.

The city’s foodie revolution has facilitated a boom in eastern flavour – there are now more than a dozen such eateries in the station area – but newcomers will be lucky to match the greeting you get at Gurkha’s Inn.

Manager Gopal Bhattarai welcomes regulars with a handshake and smile – and they smile back. This recently refurbished spot in City Road was wellregarded in its previous incarnation, Gurkha Chef, and Mr Bhattarai has served Winchester diners for six years.

The Inn’s menu now offers good value on a range of Indian dishes as well as authentic offerings from the Nepalese regions.

The deep burgundy room is comfortable if a little quiet for the eve of a bank holiday. The atmosphere is gently massaged by eastern muzak and paintings of Nepal, but the beaming staff are keen to make you feel at home.

Patrons can now choose from almost 30 curries and an impressive range of vegetarian and seafood dishes.

The best taste of the evening comes first – paneer fingers in a delectable light batter with peppers and chillies – but the choice of mains is most impressive.

The extra-hot ‘Gurkha’s Revenge!’, complete with exclamation mark, is one of several eye-catching options, but I plump for a milder trio of small Nepalese plates. These are available as large main dishes or smaller plates to mix and share.

Our food is served swiftly and attractively.

My companion’s chicken pasanda is gleefully cleaned from the plate after an early round of spiced potatoes.

The aloo bodi tama is another highlight – bamboo shoots with black-eyed beans, potato and tomato with hearty flavour.

Mixed textures – soft scoops of spinach with crunchy shoots – are a joy to navigate and the flavours blend well. Owner and executive chef Tika Ram Niure rightly prides himself on embedding strong flavours no matter the heat.

Three dishes, plus rice, were deeply satisfying but more than filling, leaving little room for dessert. Those who choose a third course can try liquers, Nepalese beers, a conventional brownie and ice cream or – for the brave – gulab jamun, deep-fried sweet dumplings stewed in sugar syrup.

It is sad to leave without trying a bit of everything, so inviting is the menu.

But sugar syrup or no, there is little doubt that this classy restaurant and takeaway, one of the friendliest in Winchester, will thrive against all comers.

Gurkha’s Inn, 17 City Road, Winchester. Tel: 01962 842843