Monday, February 15, 2010

Himalayan Heritage

In December, we had plans to have dinner at Himalayan Heritage before venturing out to the Kennedy Center. As you know, the weather dumped 20 inches of snow on our plans (see here and here). One month later, an almost identical scenario unfolded. We had plans to go to Himalayan before the Kennedy Center (see here) and Mother Nature dumped a ton of snow on DC. Undeterred, we pressed on, figuring that a restaurant with "himalayan" in the name would probably scoff at DC's snow and be open for business.

Lucky for us, Himalayan Heritage and its cozy dining room were ready and waiting for us when we arrived for an early dinner. Once you wade through the cloud of incense smoke at the front door, you'll see a lantern-lit dining room swathed with silk fabrics and brightly-colored paintings. A half-roof hangs over the booths on the wall making you feel as if you're dining in a Nepalese home, and your party's name is printed on a little placard on the table completing the welcoming feel.

The menu describes the food as "Authentic Nepalese and Indian Cuisine." The Indian dishes on the menu were familiar but we hoped to venture over to the Nepalese side of the menu. We asked our waiter for help, but he was so soft-spoken we couldn't understand most of what he recommended. Our friends had been to Himalayan Heritage once before, so they were able to steer us in the direction of some very tasty dishes.

To start, we ordered the Gobi Manchurian (Cauliflower fried in a corn flour batter served with a hot and sweet dipping sauce). Himalayan managed to take an often bland and lifeless vegetable and pack it with flavor and heat.

Next up were the Vegetarian Steamed Momo (dumplings). These were good but I thought they tasted just like the dumplings in the Trader Joe's frozen food section. That's not a bad thing, they just weren't anything new or exciting.

B ordered the Himalayan Karahi which was a hit and miss dish. Certain pieces of meat were tender and juicy, while others were on the dry side. It was more than enough food for two people to share.

I tried the Shrimp Curry Nepali Style (jumbo shrimp cooked in onion and tomato sauce with curry spices and coconut milk). The combo of the tomato sauce and curry/coconut milk made for a strange yet delicious Italian-Thai fusion dish. It was one of the more unique flavor combos I've eaten. Ladeled over rice and scooped up with the fluffy garlic naan, this was a perfect dish for a snowy night.

If you're looking to try something new and don't have the time to venture to Nepal, Himalayan Heritage should be added to your list. With the snow piled high against the windows, you just might forget you're in DC.

I recommend checking out where you can purchase discounted gift certificates to Himalayan Heritage. Our friends got a $50 gift certificate for only $20 making our first trek to the Himalayas quite the bargain.

Second Thoughts From B

I know it'll sound like I'm completely dismissing the food (which I'm not), but the thing that was most memorable to me about Himalayan Heritage was the dining room. You know when you're at Disneyland or Caesar's Palace in Vegas they have all those facades that make you feel like you're in another world? That's how I felt. It was complete immersion into what I imagine that region of the world to be like. That said, I'm completely ignorant about Nepalese food/culture outside of the time Indiana Jones spent with Marion in her bar during Raiders of the Lost Ark and the book, Into Thin Air...

This is exactly why we needed a guide to help us along the way, yet somehow ended up with Silent Bob. We've written a lot about how much I appreciate guidance from a waiter. Usually I can navigate a menu without assistance, but I've found that having the help of someone who has tasted everything and gotten feedback from everyone is far superior to a few words on a page. However, in a restaurant that seems to pride itself in cultural immersion, this shifts from a nice option to a necessity, and I felt a bit lost.
Himalayan Heritage on Urbanspoon

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