by Holly Brown
When the Chicken Thali was placed on our table, I stared in reverent silence and then said to Ryan, “That is the most majestic dinner I have ever seen.”
And that it was. In front of us were four golden bowls filled to the brim with thick, fragrant mixtures. A carefully placed set of beautiful silverware rested around the edge of a golden platter containing a generous heap of basmati rice and folded roti. As Ryan sipped his slowly steaming cup of Masala Chai (superb, made individually and to order), he surveyed the feast before him. Both he and I were fully aware that he had ordered from the Everest Menu like a seasoned eater well beyond this evening, our first trip.
Everest Restaurant is exactly the kind of hole in the wall that warrants a devoted following. Located in a small strip mall in Cuyahoga Falls, you certainly need to be looking to find this restaurant.
Let me tell you right now, look for it.
Unassuming from the outside, the inside of Everest is modestly decorated in an Indian and Nepalese style — a small red drapery with an intricate pattern hung above the doorway to the dining room and more red curtains, this time sheer, partially obscure the view of State Road outside. There’s a relatively large bookshelf holding a few knick knacks, including one elephant figurine I was very partial to. Soft Nepalese music jingled in the background.
My boyfriend/roomie/partner in all things culinary, Ryan, and I sat down across from one another at a small booth and immediately began surveying the menu.
“So we definitely have to get ‘teezers, right?” Ryan said, immediately flipping through the menu, calling into use the affectionate term for “appetizers” employed by my brother for many years.
Of course I agreed, at once charmed by the momo—Tibetan dumplings—because dumplings are, after all, delicious nuggets of meat and/or vegetables snuggled in dough. After discovering that it was in fact okay and even encouraged for us to order momo as a shareable appetizer, we settled on the pork variety, steamed.
The pork mixture inside the thick and savory dumpling skin was soft and immensely flavorful. With just a slight kick that was less spicy than it was earthy in nature, the momo had layers of flavor similar to a curry but drier, more compact. The sesame dipping sauce was just salty enough to complement the intimacy of the various spices and herbs. I would not deny that after I had completed my share of the momo, I was scraping my fingers along the bottom of the sauce cup, trying to get every last drop.
In the wake of the mountain of momo, I concluded to order a modest plate for dinner: tandoori shrimp. Ryan took a decidedly different course ordering Chicken Thali. Little did we know, Chicken Thali was about to become the rockstar of Everest.
This particular Chicken Thali is made up of the following: Chicken cooked in a thick, spiced sauce along with tomato, onions, garlic and ginger (reminded me of a curry), red lentil soup, mango pickle, rice pudding, and a cauliflower, potato, pea mixture— lightly sauced. All of this surrounds a heap of basmati rice and roti, a thin and chewy, dense and malleable bread used as a vehicle for the various dishes. I was stunned into silence when the mammoth meal was placed on our table. It was just so…aesthetically pleasing and smelled so damn good.
The tandoori shrimp was delicious in its own right. Placed carefully around the rim of a small white plate, the shrimp were red and vibrant. In the middle was a small pile of greens, slices of carrots and cucumber. With just a little kick but a whole lot of flavor, they really tasted how they looked: bright and peppery. They were exactly the right compliment to the momo.
Meanwhile, Ryan was involved in a hell of an endeavor with that Thali, and honestly, I was right there eating it too. You know something is good when you keep sneaking bites across the table. Of all the dishes, I have to say I became completely infatuated with the red lentil soup. This was flavor that ran deep: earthy and subtle and just savory enough. There’s something about soup that really gets at the essence of a food and this soup was no different.
In the wake of once again scraping a bowl dry with my finger to get every last drop, I decided I would figure out a way to order an entire bowl of red lentil soup next time I go to Everest.
Holly Brown loves to write and eat and vows to work on her own soup crafting skills this winter.