words and photos by Tyron Hoisten
Food has the power to take you to a new place. That’s part of the excitement of trying foods from other regions. Recently my taste buds traveled all the way to Nepal, by way of Nepali Kitchen in North Hill.
Nepali Kitchen is essentially comprised of two tiny adjoining spaces. The exterior is rather unassuming, as is the interior. There isn’t much to see inside other than a small dining area with light décor and a flat screen that continuously loops elaborate Bollywood music videos.
I stepped up to the counter, which was hastily separated from the kitchen by a black cloth. I waited for a while before realizing that there was a bell. I rang it, and instantly, a woman stepped in front of the curtain, almost as if she had been waiting for her cue.
She showed me to a table in the dining area, which I had all to myself. She was gracious and patient enough to walk me through the well balanced menu. For the appetizer, I went with the mixed platter. For the entrée, I chose Nepali Spaghetti with bhatura.
The aromas that crept out from the kitchen kept me in high anticipation of what was to come.
Before too long, the waitress sped out of the kitchen with a basket of the mixed platter appetizer. For only $6.50, this sampler gave me a taste of their most popular starter options.
First, I tried the vegetable samosa, which is a pastry stuffed with potatoes, peas and spices. The dough was crispy enough, and the filling was certainly flavorful, but overall it fell short for me because there was just too much potato. Too much of a good thing can be bad. In each bite, I tasted more potato than anything. I would’ve enjoyed this more if the boldness of the other ingredients were able to shine through.
The paneer pakora, which I bit into next, is battered and fried homemade cheese. It had an interesting consistency, to say the least. Paneer is firm and rather bland, much like unseasoned tofu. A dash more of chili or turmeric powder would’ve been much appreciated by my taste buds. The sauce that was served alongside added just enough zing to make it worth finishing.
Lastly, I bit into the vegetable pakora, a fried cluster of vegetables mixed with spices. It shined where the other two items in the mixed platter struggled: its ingredients were balanced, and its flavors were abundant. Everything culminated favorably here to make each crunchy bite satisfying.
Just as I gulped down the last of the vegetable pakora, my entrée hit the table.
When I saw the bhatura, I knew it was going to be thebomb.com. The crispy layered fried bread was still piping hot, fresh out of the fryer. The taste reminded me of funnel cake, only without the powdered sugar. It was fluffy. It was faintly sweet. It was delicious. It, alone, was worth the trip.
The tomato, onion and basil curry sauce that adorned the plentiful serving of noodles and chicken had a sassy kick. The chicken was a bit on the chewy side. The dish wasn’t spectacular, but it was worth trying.
Nepali Kitchen is a modest establishment, with modest offerings. They’re cruising at a comfortable speed in their own lane. They’re serving up authentic comfort food that’s worth trying.
Tyron Hoisten is a writer, a speaker, a minister, a humorist—in short, he is many things, but most notably, he’s bald.