I’ve always been enamored by Nepali cuisine. From thick, chewy and succulent momos to Dal, Bhaat and Tarkari (Lentils, Rice and Vegetables/Meat), there’s hardly anything I hate about the cuisine. Even the BBQ spare parts ilke the Poleko Khan (tongue and ear of the pig), or Sukuti ra bhat – dehydrated buffalo meat, or Gundruk – fermented vegetables, are a delight to eat. When cooked well, of course.
Chicken Momo’s at Restaurant Nepal Himalayan Cuisine
And it has to be said, Momo, a traditional delicacy in China and Tibet, were brought to Nepal by Tibetan immigrants. Nepali people have added their own spices and twists to this amazing dish and made popular everywhere these days. These plump round purses are traditionally stuffed with vegetable, cheese, tofu and meats of yak, goat, lamb, pork or water buffalo, depending on the Nepali region. They remind me of the Shanghai xiao long bao dumplings. Too bad in KL, one will never get a chance to try yak or buffalo meat momos. I’ve only ever tried lamb and chicken locally. And you know, the Tibetans eat a lot of yak and buffalo meat because without meat as a source of fat and protein, they simply could not have survived on their high, cold plateau for centuries. And I read somewhere that, there is a practical, Buddhist reason for eating yak instead of, say, rabbit or fish. Apparently, the karmic load of killing one rabbit and one yak are the same – one life, but you can feed a heck of a lot more people with a yak!
Our favourite Lamb Momo’s at The Khukri, Jalan Silang KL
Well, yak meat might be lean and tough, but the best Momos we have ever eaten locally have been at The Khukri. At the Khukri, the Momo skins are thick and chewy, so as to contain that liquid, which surges out on first bite. Totally delicious! Momos can also be fried, but they are not as juicy and satisfying like that. After sucking out the broth, we like to dunk the entire thing in Sepen, a brick-red chile paste which is aromatic and slightly spicy. Truly tasty stuff.
And so, our quest to find another authentic Nepalese restaurant has brought us to the 7 month old, Nepal Himalayan Restaurant to see what it had to offer, and to see if we would be wow-ed.
Our first experience dining here together with a friend during lunch time, had been a little disappointing since our expectations had been inflated by several good write ups from print and web.
Thukpa – Spicy plain noodles in aromatic chicken soup (Vegetarian option available) – RM9
Basically a spicy chicken and vegetable soup with flat egg noodle (think mee pok). Decent tasting but not outstanding. A premium price for what it is.
Tawa Maccha – Grilled mackerel marinated in herbs served with a Nepali Salad RM14
We were told in Nepal, this dish is served with a local river fish but not finding the same bony variety here in Malaysia, the sea kembong (Mackerel) is used instead. We secretly wished that the servings were bigger too. From taste and not from spices used, this dish unfortunately draws too many similarities with the Malay version of the fried kembong for us to give it a unique rating. The sour pickled salad was nice and tart.
Chicken Momo – Nepalese Dumplings in Sesame Based Soup with assorted herbs and spices – RM12 (6 pieces)
A little dry but tasty enough, however, not as good as the Momos at The Khukri. The saving grace were the dipping sauces which were unique and well flavoured – the redder sauce was a blend of sesame, cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, chili, tomato and nepali spices. The yellow dipping sauce had all of the above, plus chaat masala, minus the chili and tomato. These were both outstanding and enhanced the flavours of the momo.
Saag Sabji Ra Bhat – Traditional vegetarian Thali with rice, black bean dhal, Nepalese Curry Mushroom, green spinach, chutney and salad – RM15
At an Indian restaurant, Thali side dishes normally change day-to-day depending on the chef’s whim and fancy, and we learned that there was a similar practice here at Restaurant Nepal. For our lunch, what stood out for us in the Saag Sabji Ra Bhat were, the black bean dhal, the curry mushroom, and the bitter gourd side dishes. However, RM15 is a tad too pricey for a vegetarian dish and with such small portions too. Cumi felt there could be better alternatives to choysum, a vegetable exotic in the northern hemisphere but far too common in the south. [Editors note: He doesn’t like choysum in general, but will eat it anyway]
In this Thali set, the Nepalese Curry Mushroom was aromatic and delicious. Imagine a cantonese-style broth with hints of Indian spices. It went well with the rice.
Mango Lassi .. bi-phasic – you need to stir it up to get that characteristic white lassi look
Although served with real mango puree, we would have preferred a sweeter and more aromatic variety of mango, and with the puree blended fresh. As you can see from the color, the puree has oxidized. The yogurt, though, was thick, creamy and tasty.
On our second visit however, the food had improved substantially.
Mutton bone marrow with smashed pumpkin curry, timmur and Nepalese spices
Right, so this must be the restaurant’s meltiest, most unctuous dish. Yes indeed, fatty, melty marrow is one of the world’s great culinary finds, and at Restaurant Nepal, the mutton bone marrow delivers in spades. Not just the fatty marrow, but even the fall-off-the-bone, tender meat is commendably well seasoned – the sweetness and smokiness of the pumpkin curry just drives the point home – that good mutton bone marrow is meant to be enjoyed, and to the fullest!
The Sangria, or the Shangri-La, as it is called at Restaurant Nepal, is the perfect accompaniment to this rich & hearty dish that’s made from Momma’s own secret recipe no less. We found the fruity, crunchy bits in the Sangria refreshing. In hindsight, a fine single malt whisky would probably complement this meaty dish too.
The Shangri-La… oo-la-la!
As you can see, Restaurant Nepal is Pork Free, but alcoholic beverages are served.
On the second visit, the Momo’s has a thicker skin texture, and were nice and chewy. The meat inside was also succulent and fragrant.. and bursting with flavour. It was like we had walked into a different restaurant. Much, much better this time.
This mixed platter was ideal for sharing. On the left, you see the chili chicken – battered masala style chicken, somewhat like Chinese sweet and sour, minus the sweetness. Our favourites were the Momos, the Aloo Silam (potatoes in spices) the Deep Fried Soya Bean. The Aloo Silam potatoes were chunky yet smooth and fragrant with perilla seeds – these seeds in Nepal are called silam, and are normally roasted and ground with salt, chillies and tomatoes etc. to give it that savory characteristic flavour and aroma that’s just incredible when cooked perfectly. The Aloo Silam with timmur sprinklings comes highly recommend here.
We learned from the Nepalese owner, wild cannabis seeds are often used as a spice in cooking in Nepal. The seeds are devoid of psychotropic effects. Too bad we couldn’t enjoy the same opportunity here in Malaysia.
Deep fried soya bean – interesting texture, a bland grittiness that I found addictive, and then each mouthful gave way to little crunchy explosions of onion and spice. I really liked this dish, as it was tasty and yet healthy at the same time.
Mutton chili fried with capsicum and onions – a nice, dry chili dish, with a good mix of chewy and non-fatty mutton chunks, with fatty, softer cartilaginous bits. The mutton chili is like regular dry mutton curry, but there are some spices in there which make it totally different experience on your palate. Ginger, garlic, garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric powder.. and to it is added numbing Nepali spices, chili and timmur (a nepali pepper with Szechuan pepper-like characteristics). The chili and spices were enough to make Cumi break a sweat. For me, it was just nice.
As you can see, the consistency of the Mango Lassi varies. This time the mango was better.. in a more identifiable, less scary shade as well!
What a cute name.. C-Momo! This was a deep-fried version of the meat Momos, served in a hot and spicy tomato broth. Apparently, C-Momo stands for Chili Momo.
These were feisty little tasty pockets of succulent minced meat and coriander, dunked in a hot and spicy soup, but by then, we were all Momo-ed out! Really stuffed to the max on rich and tasty Nepalese food.
3 desserts – Nepali Vermicelli, Rice Pudding and Yoghurt Dessert
Dessert tasted like 3 versions of rice pudding. Very similar to the ones found in Indian desserts but with less spices. Of these, I liked the Vermicelli one best.
We feel that if Nepal Himalayan position is aimed at the expatriate and the higher-end patrons, they would need to use even higher quality and rarer types of produce while keeping with its traditional recipes to raise the bar on its dining experience to attract more local patrons. We rate this restaurant a work-in-progress. From chats with the owner who is relatively new to the food business, we feel there is great commitment and enthusiasm to continuously improve its standards to introduce and to create a wonderful Nepalese dining experience.
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Restaurant Nepal Himalayan Cuisine,
F-0-6, Plaza Damas, Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur.
Opposite TGI Friday’s, on top of Hartamas Shopping Center.
Open daily starting lunchtime; last orders at 930pm Pork Free