Saturday, May 28, 2011

Himalayan Restaurant

Yep, that's what it's called.  I suppose you can't judge a book by its cover, or a restaurant by its name for that matter.  Although "Himalayan Restaurant" isn't a terribly creative moniker, it's accurate, and easy to remember.  Fortunately, the menu is a little more adventurous, featuring an extensive array of Nepalese, Tibetan, and Indian cuisine.

I dined earlier in the week at this new establishment on Temple Street, located right across from the Criterion Theater.  It is housed in the site of the former Mandala restaurant which I visited on a couple of occasions and always left satisfied (I have since learned to recreate their delicious yellow lentil and jasmine rice soup at home).  The decor and layout have pretty much remained the same, with a bar in front as you enter, a row of booths flanking the windows, and several 4-tops in the central dining area.

For lunch, there are several specials, including a few Tarkari (vegetarian/vegan) items to choose from.  Needless to say, I am always pleased when a restaurant prints the word "vegan" on its menu, and this one also had items designated gluten-free, which made me even happier.  For $7.95 you get a soup, entree, rice, and naan bread.  Although they were micro portions, the combined meal was quite satisfying and well worth the money.

To start, I chose the Kwati, a delicious Nepalese soup made with 8 different types of beans, herbs, and spices.  The luscious and flavorful broth seemed to have been simmered for hours and tasted quite homey and comforting.  One word of caution, however:  too many whole cardamom pods made an appearance in almost every spoonful, and though I like the intense flavor, this was just a bit offputting when I expected to be biting into some beans.

For my entree I chose Aaloo Cauli, sauteed potatoes, cauliflower and peas in a savory tomato based sauce.  This is similar to the Indian Aloo Gobi, though the curried gravy had slightly different, more savory seasonings.  I'd definitely have seconds on this.

My lunch companion chose the Daal to start, which is made with red lentils and garlic and had a lemony kick.  Her entree was Malai Kofta, soft vegetable balls swimming with cashews and raisins in a creamy gravy.

The naan was lovely:  perfectly crisp on the outside edges and fluffy as a pillow in the center.  I didn't indulge, but observed that it operated quite nicely as a vehicle for getting every last drop of gravy off the plate.

I look forward to a return visit to Himalayan Restaurant, perhaps as the opening act to a night at the movies.

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