Apart from being home to Mt. Everest, the craggy Himalayan mountain range also cuts through several diverse regions, including Nepal, India, Tibet and Bhutan. It's no wonder, then, that at Himalayan restaurants, you'll often uncover a rich array of foods and flavors.
Take Taste of the Himalayas, for instance (3185 Midway Drive). The Point Loma hole-in-the-wall stirs together Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan cuisines—crowd favorites like chicken tikka masala share the menu with less familiar dishes, including a lamb-and-spinach combo called bhera ko saag. You'll also come across vegetable, chicken and lamb momo—steamed dumplings with Nepalese and Tibetan roots.
Barely two years old, Taste of the Himalayas is helmed by Nepalese restaurateur Sanjog Chaudhary, who also oversees a few Bay Area establishments. Push through the eatery's curtained entrance and you'll find yourself inside a small, dimly lit space. My grub buddy and I arrived at an awkward time—too late for lunch and too early for dinner—but the restaurant was decently busy. Luckily, though, our waiting timewas close to nil.
With all its curtains drawn, Taste of the Himalayas felt a little too cozy for 3 p.m. Paper lanterns brightened the sleepy mood, as did the complimentary bowls of daal. The Indian soup owes its bright mustardy color to yellow lentils and turmeric. It was delicious—the hearty broth flaunted a satisfyingly chunky texture and smooth, nutty undertones.
Our appreciation for the hunger-muffling daal only increased as we waited for our lunch. Taste of the Himalayas rents out a banquet room for parties and events, and a birthday bash had been in full swing when we first arrived, the 20-person shindig most likely the cause of our food's delay.
Finally, the vegetable momo arrived. Widely popular in Tibet and Nepal, momo are savory dumplings made from flour and water and stuffed with everything from lamb to cheese to cabbage. Delightfully thick and chewy, the dumpling skin held a tangy filling of minced cabbage, spinach, mushrooms, cashews, onion and cilantro. A Himalayan dipping sauce joined the octet, but I found it impossibly salty.
The chicken tikka masala came next, accompanied by a bowl of Basmati rice. We also ordered a basket of garlic cilantro naan, which was stretchy and oily and hot. This may cock a few eyebrows, but I recommend double-carbing it by scooping up the curry-soaked rice with a piece of naan. The chicken tikka masala, by the way, was fragrant and flavorful.
Our lunch ended with a plate of mango kulfi. The dense Indian ice cream walks the line be- tween creamy and frozen, maintaining a pleas- antly crunchy texture. Dried anise seeds speckled the kulfi, which tasted exactly like a mango at the peak of ripeness. Even its red-orange hue brought to mind the succulent fruit.
Maybe it was the warm weather or the languid afternoon or my persistent sweet tooth, but I really enjoyed the kulfi—so much so that I almost forgot that we'd waited 25 minutes for our food. Almost.