One section of Everest Cafe looks like an import store

I read somewhere that Everest Café in Berkeley’s Solano Avenue neighborhood specialized in Himalayan food. The idea of trying something from a part of the world so distant and mysterious drew me to dinner, and I brought along my friend Hector.

The signage outside the neighborhood favorite (a lot of people came in for take out) specified the type of Himalayan cuisine as eastern Nepalese and Indian. (Several countries share the Himalayas, including China and Tibet.) And while I knew nothing about Nepalese food, I knew Indian was typically curries, naan bread and tandoori.

We relied on our server to recommend traditional Nepalese food, but our enthusiastic server basically recommended everything on the menu. You know the type who says everything’s good?

Papad, crispy baked lentil wafers, $1.99 for two pieces, served with tamarind and mint dipping sauce

In our adventure, Hector and I did discover some new things. One was the papad, a crispy baked lentil wafer that’s served with a yin-yang dipping sauce of tamarind and mint. I’m not exactly sure how the papad would be considered appetizing since its paper thin size doesn’t really fill you up. (Hector referred to it as a communion wafer.) I guess it’s just a vehicle to carry the tasty mint dip (I wasn’t really fond of the tamarind sauce).

Also new to us was the aalu dam ($2.99), which our server said was a traditional Nepalese dish of boiled potatoes that are then pan-fried to make them crispy. Served coated with cumin and spices, it was comforting but really just tasted like roasted potatoes with cumin.

One of the dish that caught my eye on the menu was the Everest Tarkari ($16.99), something like a casserole with baked chicken, lamb, shrimp and cauliflower – all my favorite foods. But the dish did taste pretty much like a light curry.

Aalu Dam, boiled potatoes pan fried with cumin and spices. $2.99

When we asked our server for a recommendation for a vegetable dish, she suggested the Mis-mas tarkari ($9.99), which was basically an assortment of vegetables prepared in the same spices used for the Everest Tarkari. So I felt we were just eating a vegetarian version of the same dish.

So what I learned about Himalayan food, specifically Nepalese, is that it provides warmth and comfort through the curries and spices, and heavily use meats like lamb. Everest Café does go lighter than Indian curries I’ve had elsewhere, but it still would fall in the category of Indian food. It’s a quaint spot, but on my trek to discover Himalayan food, I have a feeling I’ve just started at the foot of the mountain.

Rating: 2 out of 4 camera snaps

 

 

Everest Café, 1645 Solano Ave., Berkeley. PH: 510.526.4915. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. Delivery available. www.everest-café.com

Everest Cafe on Urbanspoon

Dinner started with a complimentary lentil soup that was tasty, and I also ordered a Nepalese beer

Everest Tarkari, baked chicken, lamb, shrimp, cauliflower, broccoli, cooked with homemade sauce and spices. $16.99

Everest Cafe has been in the hood for awhile on Solano Avenue

Mis-Mas Tarkari, assorted vegetables cooked with traditional curry sauce $9.99, tasted a lot like the Everest Tarkari

4 Responses to Exploring Eastern Nepalese and Indian Cuisine

  1. Sandy says:

    I’ve never had Nepalese food but am curious about the Papad and beer!

    • Ben Ben says:

      The beer was all that remarkable, but I did have a light Nepalese beer. Hector had a regular one. And I’m still not convinced about the papad. I still don’t get it. It’s just a really thin cracker.

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    The papad looks a little like an Indian pappadam. I can never get enough of those. Crazy for that cracker-like texture. I’ll have to scope out this place the next time I’m in the neighborhood.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Carolyn, you probably have more experience to identify the really unique dishes. Let me know if you discover anything worth going back for.

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