Monday, October 19, 2009

Nalapak – Columbia Heights, MN

One of the most awesome people from my work is leaving the company, so we decided to get together for a going away lunch at his favorite place – Nalapak. I was on board, for sure. They told me it was in Columbia Heights, which didn’t mean a thing to me. I was riding with someone else, so it didn’t matter. They probably told me that since it’s halfway to Canada and we would not make it back inside an hour. Ha ha ha. Not even close.

Would anyone notice 20 people in my immediate vicinity being gone for a couple of hours? Nah…

Even EnyaFace! decided to show up this time. She’s worked with about half of the people that came along, so her making an appearance was an added bonus to the lunch!

They warned me ahead of time about it being a purely vegetarian restaurant, which I honestly don’t have a problem with, but I thanked them for warning me. But it’s nice to know people think of me when they’re worried about my eating preferences – the same as I worry about my co-workers when I pick a fun place for lunch. I totally take vegetarians into account when I invite groups of people!

It’s a pretty considerable buffet at Nalapak. Lots of stuff I hadn’t seen before, and the best part was I was with Indian people who actually told me what things were. That was awesome. They told me “get this to dip into that”, “don’t get this until later, it’s for dessert”, “this is spicy, be careful”, “no one eats that, don’t get that”. I loaded up my plate and headed back.

I’m not positive as to everything I got, but I grabbed a menu when we left and I’m trying to match things up. I didn’t do very well this time:

  • Sambhar – awesome spicy soup with potatoes and squash in a tomato broth
  • Basmati – plain Indian rice
  • Avial – vegetables in coconut & yogurt sauce with spices
  • Bisi Bele Bath – South Indian rice dish with lentils and vegetables
  • Onion Paratha – oniony bread like naan
  • Mysore Special Payasam – desert with vermicelli noodles cut small with milk and honey – super sweet desert

Seriously this food was awesome. I really liked the donut shaped things, especially after one of my coworkers told me to cut up the donut and dip it into the Sambhar. Wow, that was awesome. There was Dosai on the table – crepe things with potato, rice, and lentils, similar to the ones I’ve had at other places. They were really good, and maybe the equivalent of chips on the table at a Mexican restaurant.

I went back for a second plate, but I forgot to take a photo of that one. I was too excited and jumped right into the eating part. And then someone else at the table questioned my eating manhood and I was forced to go back for a third plate. I seriously thought I was going to burst at the table, like in Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life.” The dessert (the Payasam) was good, but I’m not a dessert person in any country, so this one didn’t convert me. It was creamy and sweet and was very good, but I don’t think I’ll get a craving for it at any point.

Yes, it’s a trek to Columbia Heights (unless you live there, and then it’s a very short drive), but you should still try this place. I only made a few comments about the dishes being better with some chicken or lamb thrown in, but I won’t relay them here. Vegetarian or not, this place is really good.

Top 5 things about Nalapak
1. The donut shaped things with Sambhar
2. Bisi Bele Bath
3. Avial
4. Hanging out with 20 coworkers AND EnyaFace!
5. Dosai

Bottom 5 things
1. Anytime I combine super fun people and really good food, it makes me miss Gerd. She would have talked about this place a lot (even though it was vegetarian)
2. It’s really not drivable for lunch (for me)
3. I REALLY wish I could remember the names of everything I ate.
4. The buffet had a weird flow to it. It’s two-sided, but you don’t have access to everything unless you go back through the line
5. That’s the fullest I’ve been in a long time; I should have stopped a plate and a half earlier (I guess that’s probably MY fault though, huh?)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it was a great buffet and a good time! I think you proved your eating manhood to those trash talkers!I want you to know I never doubted.

EnYa Face!