Exploring the food of other countries can be intimidating, but the reward is multifold. In the case of dining at The Himalayas Restaurant, customers can enjoy not only wonderful taste sensations, but also learn a little about a totally different culture.
Open the café’s front door, and walk from a strip shopping center into the serene atmosphere of Nepal and India. The exotic color combination of peach walls, bright red booth cushions and red light shades transport you across the world.
The family run and oriented café features an extensive menu of Indian and Nepalese dishes. In addition to entrees featuring chicken, lamb, goat and seafood, we found a large selection of vegetable entrees since believers of many religions in Nepal and India do not eat meat or fish. Vegetarian or not, you’ll find an amazing variety of flavor in these very satisfying dishes.
On an evening night out, we started with the vegetable pakora ($1.75). We thoroughly enjoyed munching on the fritters, dipped and fried in a very crunchy chick-pea batter. They were served with two sauces. The dark brown tamarind sauce was an intriguing combination of sweet and sour. The color of spinach, the green sauce was a combination of mint, onion, chili and Indian spices blended into a paste that left a slight peppery taste in the throat. We enjoyed the appetizer with gulps of cold ice tea with lemon, and decided it would be especially good with beer, which is available.
The khashi goat ($13,95), one of the restaurant’s specialties, tantalizes the taste buds, with small pieces of tender goat smothered in a delicate curried gravy accented with ginger, onion and fresh coriander. Although the menu lists the goat meat as cut “bone-in,” our adventurous guest found cutting bones out of the gravy-coated meat somewhat disconcerting. However, he especially liked the bite of ginger offset with a wonderful hint of lime. In contrast, chicken dopiyas ($11.95) was a wonderful dish of boneless chicken pieces cooked in a sauce with squares of mild onions, green pepper and fresh tomatoes and seasoned with ginger and fresh coriander.
A late lunch at the restaurant turned into a feast. The samosa chat ($5.95), one of India’s popular street foods, was a cold, crunchy mixture of little baked pastry broken into small pieces, along with bits of cooked potato, crackers, French onions, green peppers and cilantro. This was a lively start to our meal shared by three. A Nepalese entrée, chhwela lamb (13.95) was surprisingly delicious with cubes of very tender grilled lamb mixed with a generous amount of chopped onions, garlic and fresh tomatoes. Enhanced with lime, the dish was light, yet filling.
Vindaalo dishes, which originated in the Portuguese-Indian colony of Goa are often served very spicy hot, although diners can order their dishes spiced mildly or at a medium level. We requested our shrimp vindaalo ($12.95) to be cooked medium hot, and it arrived with large jumbo shrimp and potatoes smothered in a rich tomato-based gravy with a sweet-tangy flavor. Spices in the gravy, including a touch of vinegar and chili powder, were underplayed to bring out the flavor of the seafood. It’s very filling.
The mixed grilled platter ($19.95) included chicken tikka breast, marinated in a yogurt sauce and roasted in a tandoor oven, a ground lamb seekh (shish) kabab and shrimp. The kabab was somewhat overcooked, but the chicken was exceptionally moist and tender. Each item on the platter was flavored with spices including cumin, coriander, mint and cayenne. A perfect dish for vegetarians, the Navratnan korma ($11.95) was a delicious mixture of braised green beans, peas, potatoes, carrots and squash in a thick, buttery tomato-cream sauce with ground cashews, pistachios and almonds.
All entrees at The Himalayas are served with a generous amount of fluffy, fragrant basmanti rice and naan (Indian flatbread).
A mystery dessert, Malai Kulf ($2.99), described as Indian ice cream, turned out to be homemade mango ice cream, a spectacular frozen treat with a lush mango taste and far better than custard-like mango frequently found in the United States. The Juju Dhau ($2.95), a sweetened yogurt with coconut slices, was made with skim milk and served as a light refreshing end to the meal.
While the restaurant offers a lunch buffet Tuesday-Saturday, we suggest ordering from the more varied menu listing. Meals are cooked to order, and it’s worth the short wait to enjoy the truly fresh ingredients. Children are welcomed, and the staff will gladly suggest dishes that will appeal to youngsters.