Nepali Kitchen was an incredible amount of fun. I had never had Nepalese food before, so that afternoon I spent some time reading articles on the internet and decoding the dishes on the menu (as I do). I took notes for each of the dishes, made a list of likely choices, and headed out to meet up with one of my dining pals.
It’s in an older part of town (my personal preference), on a street that almost seems kind of like a “Little Nepal.” Nepalese script in the windows of all the shops, the whole nine yards. I actually found another Nepalese place close-by that I plan to check out some other time.
The street was packed with people. I only saw a couple of females during the time I was on the street, which was longer than anticipated because my dining companion was late (as usual haha). And until my partner arrived, I was definitely the only “fair-complexioned” person around.
That being said, people parted on the sidewalk like the Red Sea for me to pass, and my more confident and assertive female friends would have absolutely nothing to be concerned about here. Nothing scary or intimidating about the place, outside of what may live in your own mind. Just don’t walk down any dark alleys, right? I certainly don’t.
Yes, there was traffic. No, it wasn’t a big deal. I found a parking spot less than two blocks away, and on my first pass. It is worth noting that I also drive one of the largest SUVs in existence, haha. This is consistent with my theory that you shouldn’t ever worry about reviews that complain about parking. It’s always there if you look for it, and in the end you only need one spot.
There were plenty of tables. We went on a Saturday evening, so maybe that was why. I dunno. But based on reviews I had read, I was expecting it to be packed.
The servers were very pleasant, and although the language barrier existed, it was not an issue. I was actually super impressed that the guy taking our order didn’t write anything down AND nailed our order on the first try. Every time that happens to me, it makes me feel like I am in experienced hands. And I tip even more for it.
We ordered every kind of momo on the menu, fried and steamed. Each was a different experience, but they were all very satisfying. I agree with other reviewers that the steamed momos really stood out, which surprised me because if you know me, you know I think everything gets a little better when run through a fryer of some sort, haha.
That being said, the fried momos were also really good. They were just different. I think what happened is that the focus shifted away from the filling and became centered more on the crisp wrapper though. And the fillings were so good that it wasn’t necessary.
In the spirit of conciliation, I have to say my favorites were the Kothe Momos, which involved a little of both worlds. Steamed AND THEN fried. It put the dumplings right in this sweet spot where there was the chewiness of a steamed dumpling, while still retaining the crisp bite of a fried one. And the focus still remained on the filling, which was ideal.
The spicy tomato dipping sauce was seriously addictive. It had a subtle, slow, and yet cumulative burn. Once the burn set in, the only solution was to keeping eating more, haha. It really completed the flavor profile of the momos, in my opinion. Naked dumplings (and believe me when I said I tried them) just didn’t yield the same level of satisfaction.
We also got a Samaya Baji Set (flattened puffed rice, curried potato, chili chicken, fried rice flour patty). It reminded me of an Indian thali, which I guess would be considered its cousin. I had never had the beaten rice before, but it actually provided an excellent contrast in texture and toasted flavor to offset the softer accompaniments. Again, a subtle, slow, and cumulative spiciness.
We also got the Chicken Sizzle (pounded, grilled/pan-fried chicken, garlic noodles, and boiled assorted vegetables). It was served swaddled in large cabbage leaves on a searing hot cast iron skillet, reminiscent of fajitas. The chicken was simultaneously juicy and crispy, the noodles were really good, and the vegetables were OK (nothing to write home about). But frankly, once we got the momos everything else on the table was at a disadvantage.
We had also gotten a Mix Chatamari (kinda like if a pizza and a crepe had a baby). We totally forgot we ordered it by the time it came. It was OK, but definitely the low-point on the table. The crepe crust was too dry to be crepe-like, but not dry enough to be crispy. And the toppings were a bit haphazard for my taste. There was fried egg, fresh carrot and cucumber, some roasted/cooked vegetables, and a drizzle of yogurt. Next time if I get it, I’ll stay away from the “mix” and see how I feel.
We had sweet lassis to drink, which helped tone the burn from the spiciness down nicely in between chomps. Nothing was overtly spicy, but like I said, everything seemed to have a very slow, cumulative burn. My buddy and I were both pouring off sweat by the time we were done. I felt like Homer Simpson at the chili cookoff.
Overall, it was all so good, and well worth all the articles I had to read to figure out what to order. I could definitely appreciate the intermarriage of Asian and Indian influences.
It came together into something that was familiar and yet entirely new in its presentation.
And keep in mind this was all for two people, haha. The waiters were laughing at us as they brought plate after plate out. We took a bunch home, but like takeout, it wasn’t as good as it was fresh off the stove.
All told, this obscene food orgy put us back maybe QR160, including a healthy tip. If you look at my other reviews, you will see that I’ve spent more than that for just me in the Pearl on more than one occasion, and walked away feeling like a chump.
Overall, this is one of the most fun dining experiences I’ve had in this city. I’ll definitely be back, and I will bring all of my visiting friends. It’s a special experience that I look forward to sharing. And I’ll be back to this street periodically by myself to crawl my way down what looks to be another assortment of authentic dining experiences. Recommended.