Nepali Restaurants

I mentioned that I ate at a good Nepali restaurant in New York recently, so I thought I would write a little bit about Nepali restaurants and have the comment section be a place where others could suggest Nepali restaurants around the country or abroad.

New York

If anyone has been to New York City with a South Asian friend or significant other then you are probably familiar with Jackson Heights, Queens. As Wikipedia notes, “Stores and restaurants on and near 74th street tend to cater towards the large South Asian population in the neighborhood, with sari and jewelry stores, Bengali and Hindi music and movie retailers and many restaurants.” There are even billboard advertisements featuring Bollywood stars like Abhishek Bachchan.

Although there are a few Nepali places in New York, I hear one of the best (most “authentic”?) is Himalayan Yak on Roosevelt Ave. I’ve been there twice now, and enjoyed it both times. It’s menu is divided into three sections—Tibetan, Nepali and Indian, and the atmosphere definitely has a Nepali/Tibetan feel—with Nepali wood panel art, Buddhist prayer wheels, paintings of mountain scenery (and of course, yaks), and tv screens airing muted and subtitled documentaries about Nepal and Tibet ( the first time I was there they were playing a documentary on the salt caravans in the high mountains). The food is quite tasty, serving crowd pleasing favorites like bhatmas ra chiura (spiced soybeans with beaten rice), gundruk (dry green vegetable very particular to Nepal), aloo tama (potato and bamboo shoot curry), kusi ko masu (goat meat), and of course momo.

In the evening the restaurant is usually packed with a Nepali/Tibetan crowd, who come not only for the food but to hear the live Nepali bands that play Friday-Monday. Inside the restaurant, it’s easy enough to pretend you are sitting in a café in the KTM valley tourist district of Thamel, rather than Queens.

Nepali band playing at the Himalayan Yak Restaurant

The restaurant was even in an episode of the American tv series “Ugly Betty” (Season 3 episode 14 near the middle of the episode). They made it look much more Tibetan for the show than it usually looks (the waiters don’t actually wear Tibetan costumes, although I have seen patrons wearing Tibetan chupas before).

To learn more about the restaurant you can read an interview done by the New York Times with the manager (my favorite question: “Is there seafood in Himalayan cuisine?”—answer: “We don’t have sea in Nepal. Nepal is a landlocked country. We don’t have sushi also over there.”).

So if in town, and looking for a place to try Nepali cuisine, check in to Himalayan Yak.

Boston

Living close to Boston one would think I’d have better recommendations for the city. There are several in town, and I’ve eaten the food at two—Kathmandu Spice in Arlington and the Yak and Yeti in Somerville.

I used to work at Tufts which is close to Somerville/Arlington, so one night after work P and I tried out Katmandu Spice. To be honest I don’t remember anything particularly outstanding– it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very memorable either. It has Nepali specialties as well—kwatti (9 bean soup), thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup), goat sekuwa (barbequed goat meat), aloo tama, momo. I think I remember P saying the food seemed more Indian inspired, and they had quite a few dishes with fish and shrimp (see Himalayan Yak manger quote above– but in their defense they might be catering to the seafood loving New England palate). It was okay, but I’m not chomping on the bit to go back.

Inside Kathmandu Spice

Yak and Yeti is a new restaurant in the city. They catered our friend’s wedding this summer, and the food was pretty good. Our friends ordered big trays of pakora (which were really tasty), chicken, goat, cauli aloo, daal, and another dish or two (to be honest, I filled up on the tasty pakora so I can’t really remember what else I ate), topped off with a big tray of kheer (rice pudding). The food was good, relatively cheap for a big crowd (they had about seventy people), and worked well in a large quantity. I haven’t eaten at their restaurant in Boston yet, but based on the wedding food they made for AS and N, I’ll keep them in mind for a certain ceremony coming up in July.

Inside Yak and Yeti

Other restaurants…

So now dear readers, do you have Nepali restaurant recommendations? Feel free to comment below! Here is another list (from Desi Grub) to get you thinking…

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10 responses to “Nepali Restaurants

  1. best nepali restaurant we had been to was a surprise – in Bath, england. after roaming for days on our holiday eating fish, chips and other heavy yumminess….we saw this little restaurant and went in side….THE FOOD WAS FABULOUS. the best fish with dry spice topping (masala machli) as an appetizer i have ever had!!! after the fact we found out it was quite a well known place! yum!!!!

    http://www.yakyetiyak.co.uk/

  2. Hahaha you guys are so lucky, we have no Nepali restos in Austin. Interestingly, there is an entrepreneurial Nepalese lady here that set up her own catering company and sells Nepalese foods to stores that will sell locally made items. She also sells her fare at a farmer’s market downtown and she is quite well known. Her chutneys have won at our local hotsauce festival, as well. I find her story really interesting, and I remember the word spreading about her like 1o years ago when she was just getting started. Austin is very provincial and although we have a dozen Indian restos, none are that great. I find it interesting how Kala’s has found her own niche in the city.

    http://www.kalaskuisine.com/KalasKuisineHistory.html

    BTW: nerdy linguist question, what does Kala mean as a name? Not black, right?

  3. Aah yes, locally people say it like kaala’s cuisine. Kala=art, I should have realized, we just must not be pronouncing her name correctly. Thanks.

  4. There’s no proper Nepali restaurant in greater Kansas City area yet. There’s a South-East Asian restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas run by a Nepali guy, Subarna Bhattachan, that also has some Nepali items on the menu.
    Here’s the link to their website:
    http://www.zen-zero.com/awards.shtml

  5. I took D to a new nepalese restaurant in Asheville, NC called Kathmandu Cafe http://kathmanducafeasheville.com/

    We arrived 2 minutes before closing time (having worked as a hostess at a restaurant throughout high school I am all too aware how rude it is to have customers show up right before closing time). The owner was very receptive and friendly though and he sat down and ate with us. He talked to D the whole time in Nepali so I was a little left out…but the food was very good. D wasn’t impressed with the mo mos but I was pleased with all of it. There is also a store around the corner called Himalayas (owned by the same guy) that has alot of fun authentic things from Nepal.

  6. For the dc area, Himalayan Heritage in Adams Morgan. We’re over in KTM for a couple years, so ironically enough I’m running a blog on good eats (Nepali or otherwise) in KTM and Nepal.

  7. The needs needs to get updated… Soon…

  8. I live in the southwest, I’ve managed to find two Nepali Restaurants. One in the ski town of Durango, CO it’s called the Himalayan kitchen, my Bf :U was pretty impressed to find that place as well as a restaurant in Albuquerque,NM called Namaste Cuisine it’s owned by a Nepali family, and their momos are great!
    BTW: I’ve been reading this blog for the past three months, i’m a Native american and my bf is Nepali . It’s been great and so much fun to see how in some cases are cultures are similar. I’m also learning lots about him and his family. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us, i crack up everytime i think about your “nepali ho?” post, mostly because that has happened to me but my response being a grumbled “hoina”

    • Hi BE…

      How interesting to be “Nepali ho?” -ed! I’m sure you surprise people by saying “hoina!”
      If you are ever interested in writing about your experiences, you are welcome to write a guest post.

      Welcome!

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