Thursday, October 24, 2013

Restaurant Nepal, Himalayan Cuisine. If The Sage Won't Go to Mountain, the Mountain Will Come to The Sage.

It's been awhile since the Queen of the Food Bloggers, Awhiffoflemongrass, or AWOL,  (now more like a whiff of passing wind) and I have gone for a food review together.  Fastidious as she is, in order to maintain a certain quality in writing, with the minions whom she chooses to associate, she decided to take matters into her own hands, and drafted the first opening paragraph of MY post for me.

"She was holidaying in Cornwall and had posted a scenic picture of a secluded wooded valley, literally in the middle of nowhere, and was musing about the beauty of the place and the rustling of the leaves that sounded, amazingly, like the ocean. Naturally, someone had to burst her bubble. I was the first to comment on her picture. "All I saw this morning was the summit of Mount Everest," I wrote. Yes, I am a b**t**d.

But just in case you can't see the comments box, I've taken the liberty of enlarging it.

But seriously, can you blame me?  I mean, look at the spectacular Everest (below), compared with her pasty English garden, that looked like it had been taken by a geriatric Englishwoman sipping tea (with milk), thinking that Malaya still belonged to the British Empire.  (Fought by the gurkhas from Nepal)

Awesome is not a word I liberally pepper my descriptions with, but on this occasion, the amazing Himalayas, and the tallest peak in the world certainly deserve the adjective.  Mount Everest IS awesome.  Even from afar.  Well, I don't think I'll be climbing it anytime soon, ...but only because it costs about USD50,000 for non Nepali who wish to climb it. 

As it happens, I loved the Nepali food, from the Momos to the rotis, samosas and their fabulous dhal, and buffalo curries.  While the dhal produced the wind beneath my wings, I loved it nevertheless and looked forward to every meal whilst I was there. 
And the sights, and mind you, I was ONLY in Kathmandu, and didn't get a change to explore beyond.  I am told of the seductive beauty of Pokhara, and the breathtaking scenes of the Annapurna, and like a lover pining for one left behind, I long for the day that I can return to Nepal.  Well, thank goodness Air Asia flies there...

Back to the review at hand....

That's her there, the Queen, and her trusty sidekick, who due to some serious travelling, and lack of make up (although in my opinion, she looked gorgeous regardless), refused to be photographed.  Now how did this motley trio come about to be in Restaurant Nepal, Himalayan Cuisine, Plaza Damas?

Well, serendipitiously, an email appeared in my inbox, and didn't go to spam, and actually caught my eye, ...not because I'm inundated with invitations, far from it, but more because I am so careless in my email readings, old people are not used to technology and having to understand 50 different forms of communication...whatsapp, sms, email, viber, fb msg, google talk, the list goes on.  So, yes, was I mightily glad that I actually READ the email from a certain Robin Sherchan... and unlike most generic cut and paste invites, sometimes with the wrong name even, his (or her, I wasn't sure) email sounded personal and sincere.  AND IT WAS AN INVITE TO A NEPALESE RESTAURANT.  Heck, even if it had been an email that sounded as impersonal as a Citibank personal loan call, I would have said YES resoundingly.  But oddly enough, I found out, the Whiff had also gotten wind of the invite, and received her own, and we quickly compared notes to see if our emails were similar, but they weren't.  Hers was more complimentary.  I hate her.

So, to cut a long story (which I've inadvertently made long) short, here we were, sitting at Restaurant Nepal, Plaza Damas, with the wonderful coproprietor, Robin Sherchan, who exuded all the warmth I experienced in the recent sojourn in Nepal. No stranger to Malaysia, Restaurant Nepal is actually his brainchild as well as a partnership with his sister, who is the real chef, and it seeks to bring his ethnic cuisine to our shores.  Afterall, as the proverbial saying goes, if the sage won't go to the mountain, the mountain will come to the sage.  (Sage being a person, not a herb, though in this case, both are applicable)

To start our tongues wagging, a chilled "Shangrila", which is actually a Sangria, with finely shredded apple, (I forget his explanation as to why they are finely shredded, but I'm guessing the more surface areas of achieved by shredding finely impart a more robust flavour...and it also makes it easy for the teethless to gnaw upon).  Very drinkable, but I suspect, quite potent if imbibed in large quantities.  It being a weeknight, I had to restrain myself, and furthermore I didn't want Robin to think I was an inebriate.
These babies are RM9 a glass or RM40 a jug

Their signature Chilli Chicken, which actually is slightly reminiscent of that Chinese dish, of chicken with dried chillies and cashew nuts, except the heat is more pronounced, as are the flavours of the individual spices.  It's a perfect starter kind of dish, to nibble with a beer (hint hint, EVEREST BEER please, Robin), or to eat with rice. RM12

The following dish, BHUTEKO BHATMAS, which is basically soy beans, deep fried, I think, is the equivalent of a party nut mix.  It is so addictive, and apparently was AWOL's sidekicks favourite dish in days of yore when she cohabitated with Robin.  Goes splendidly with alcohol, and I suspect, would go well with our nasi lemak too, in place of the fried kacang and ikan bilis.  As with all Nepali dishes, there is that subtle underlying spice.  RM9

MOMO MIA!!!! here we go again...

The quintessential MOMOS,  steamed and fried.  Actually I didn't have any deep fried momos whilst in Nepal, and I expected them to be somewhat dry, but to my pleasant surprise, the meat of the fried momos, (chicken, in this instance) was still moist, and tender.  The steamed ones are a bit like the Chinese xiaolongbaos, with a tinge of stock captured within that steamed skin, and squirts out like an erupting volcano if you are not careful.

Robin tells us that momos originated from Tibet (who presumably got it from the Chinese), but the Nepalese have made it better.  I haven't had the Tibetan momos, (I wonder if it's yakky), but I believe Robin.  Back in Nepal, momo shops are everywhere, like you'd find a mamak shop in every corner here.  Ah, one this I did miss was the BUFF MOMO.  No, it's not a momo that has been working out in the gym, carrying weights, and pumped with protein and steroids, but momos made with buffalo meat, a common staple in Nepal. 
Steamed/ Deepfried Chicken or Vegetarian Momos RM12 per serving.

Aloo Silam, (Mum's Recipe) Spicy Potatoes Marinated with red onions, Perilla Seeds & Special Herbs.  For the uneducated, the perilla seed (apparently known as wild sesame, and also touted to be the next superfood), looks like the picture below, and when grounded, looks like the one below it. RM12.

The perilla imparts a flavour not unlike cumin, I feel.  Or a cross between cumin and tumeric.  Then again, I was drinking the Shangrila, so I could be TUI.  (tasting under the influence)

That's Robin & me. Priceless.

Chatamari, or the "Nepalese Pizza".  Or rather pizza meets fritata.  A rice flour crepe with eggs (my favouritest ingredient on earth), tomatoes, spring onions and minced chicken.  RM12.  Hmm, honestly, I don't know how really Nepalese this is, it could pass off as any nationality.  But its so delicious and easy to eat.  Oh, the dipping sauces are an integral part of the dish, as those chilli sauces really give it that oomph.  Speaking of which, the Nepali equivalent of our chili padi makes our chili padi feel like a capsicum, totally no kick.  The Nepali chilli has that unique burn, but doesnt encompass your entire palate rendering you a screaming wreck for the nearest well.

Jhwol Maccha - Fish curry.  The flavours of the curry are amazing, but honestly, the choice of fish, a grass carp I think, is like navigating your way through Kathmandu traffic!!! The copious amount of bones means one wrong move, and choke, choke... But you have to understand, that Nepal IS landlocked, so only freshwater fish are available.  Still, I'd rather have this curry with any of our local fish.  RM18.  I could finish that curry with a bowl of rice and be very happy. 

Mutton Thakali Thali set.  I regret not buying sets of these quaint brass bowls and plates, that look so gorgeous.  I was surprised to see some stir fried vegetables, for during almost my entire stay in Nepal, I hardly saw any vegetables prepared this way.  There is an abundance of vegetables there, leafy greens, tubers, roots, but the preparation almost always rendered them unidentifiable.  The mutton curry was great, and covered any muttony smells but outstanding was the black dhal in this set.  It's called black dhal, but it's really from green beans.  RM17 for this set. 

A close up of the mutton curry in the thali set.

These were some kind of buckwheat pancake or roti, I believe, but strangely I cannot locate it in the menu, but is served with the traditional dhal.  The bread on its own tastes a bit bland, almost like a health food, and certainly needs to be eaten with curry. 

Does anyone recognize this plant? Coz I sure as hell dont.  But apparently it grows everywhere in Nepal, and is used quite commonly in cooking.  Larverly.   (picture taken in Nepal)

But since it is NOT available here, a substitute called TIMMUR is used, a kind of pungent Nepalese pepper. to cook this fabulous piece de resistance, Fars Ko Daal Ra Khasi Ko Nali (Pumpkin curry with mutton marrow) - RM18.  Just for having that many words in the name I think should make this dish more expensive.

That spiced curry pumpkin, .... I wonder if you have to marry into the family to get the secret recipe.  The lamb was falling off the bone, and succulent and tender.  A must order when here. 

AWOL scraping the meat off the boner... oops, bone. 

It was a lovely night of great food and great company.  Apart from the culinary wealth we gleaned from Robin, we were also regaled with stories of the Gurkhas, and how we take the sea and beach for granted, but his friend who had come from Nepal was SO excited to see the beach (and that was Port Dickson), probably the same way we were so excited to see the Himalayas and Everest.

Well, we were fed far too much, and didn't get to try dessert because if we ate anymore, AWOL's Annapurnas might just explode.  So I guess we'll just have to return soon, and in any case, there were other items on the menu that I would like to try, like "CHOWMEIN".  It baffled me that it seemed to be so ubiquitous in Nepal.  (or Kathmandu anyway). And furthermore, the dishes are so affordable here.

Dhanyabaad Robin!!!

Restaurant Nepal
Opposite TGI Friday's (outside)
F-O-6 Ground Level
Plaza Damas Shopping Centre
60 Jalan Sri Hartamas 1
50480 Kuala Lumpur
+6 016 9770 718


KY said...

food looks unique, not exactly like what my Nepalese friends cooked when back in uni

A Whiff of Lemongrass lah said...

OMG so many words. What are my annapurnas, and does food actually go there to the point of causing an explosion?

UnkaLeong said...

Hahahaha! Exploding Annapurnas has got my interest piqued.

But you had me at momos.

You had me at momos...

So when are we going there to makan makan?

Christine said...

Ah pa!! Hahaha... really enjoyed your version of "story". I mean review. Very different from Meena's lol
Never fail to make me laugh u both! :D

fatboybakes said...

Christine dear, thanks for stopping by. Thamby's write up funny meh? I didnt laugh at all. HAHAHAHAH. (evil hor)

fatboybakes said...

unkaleong, lets go soon. you'll be meeting the owner next week anyways.

fatboybakes said...

thamby, your annapurnas..actually i flatter you la. yours are probably just titiwangsas.

fatboybakes said...

KY, arent you lucky to have had a nepalese housemate to cook!!!

Ciki said...

Food looks awesome. is it better than the Khukri? :D

The Yum List said...

The food here is fab. I'd be quite happy though just with the Momos and ShangriLa.

Kelly Siew said...

This place used to be The Olive I think judging by the storefront photos. I have never tried Nepalese food before I must say, since it's nice and close I shall add it to my to-eat list.

Paranoid Android said...

Lovely post and humorous, as usual. You are really my sifu/ literary hero, etc........ Did you bring back the beautiful plant you photographed in Nepal? Maybe a leaf or two?

fatboybakes said...

PA, thanks for dropping by, you are MY literary hero. and haha, no, i didnt bring back any plants from nepal. want me to hang issit???!

fatboybakes said...

kelly siew, ya, do try it out, nice cosy unpretentious place, with unique cuisine at reasonable pricing. and the stuff goes well with booze!

fatboybakes said...

TheYumList, quite so, likewise I'd be happy with the momos and the crispy soy beans, and a beer.

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Sagarmatha said...

It is nice to see Nepalese cuisine being popular! Thank you for your efforts to promote Nepali food and wish you a very good business. There are also a lot of Nepalese restaurants in Australia including (Adelaide, South Australia). Sagarmatha Nepali Restaurant introduced the Nepalese cuisine for the first time in 2000.

Caleb Trent said...

Hi to all , interesting post I with great details to the topic Restaurant Nepal, Himalayan Cuisine. If The Sage Won't Go to Mountain, the Mountain Will Come to The Sage. thanks for it , regards
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meeng said...

Hi I'm meeng . From Nepal .
I'm stay in kl .
I'm so happy when I saw neplese food here . Looking so fresh and taste I think better then my kampung food .
I will taste next month .

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