Thursday, February 10, 2011

Everest on Grand – St. Paul, MN

D.Rough and I have been talking about going to Everest on Grand for a few months now. I’ve been to its sister restaurant Himalayan in Minneapolis’ Seward neighborhood a while back, so I knew I’d like the food at Everest. We took the scenic route and picked up SecretMeat on our way there.

The inside is very bright and lively and it was very full when we got there on a Friday night. Not surprising, I suppose. The menu is full of all kinds of delicious-looking dishes and there are great descriptions of the food, so you’re not too terribly surprised what comes out to your table. Nepali food is a cousin of Indian food (actually North Indian food is prevalent in Nepal and Tibet), so a lot of the dishes look very similar. The exception being that I don’t recall seeing a lot of Yak on the menu at Indian food restaurants.

I always have a heck of a time deciding on dinner at places like this. I want to try everything, but I can’t, sadly. We all decided, finally. We were going to start with the Pyaji – onion and jalapeno strips fried in gram-flour and chickpea batter and fried – and some Yak Momo – basically steamed dumplings with ground yak (yes, the furry beast of burden from the East). SecretMeat ordered Bheda-ko Maasu (Lamb curry), D.Rough got the Kukhurako Maasu (Chicken curry) with Jogi-tarkari, and I got the Yak Keema – ground yak with peas, herbs, and spices. We all asked for our dishes to be prepared Medium-Hot, since we’re not wusses.

We didn’t wait long for the appetizers to come out, thankfully, since we were starving. The momo/dumplings were delicious. They were firmly steamed, so they weren’t slimy like you get sometimes with pot-stickers. The ground yak on the inside was seasoned perfectly with onions and cilantro, and the dipping sauce (mom achar – cilantro, tomato, and spices) that arrived with the dish got fought over by the three of us.

The Pyaji was one of the best things of the entire dinner. Indian food has a similar dish, but the breading on these things is perfect for the flavors inside. I tried not to eat too many of these, but they truly are addicting. Again, the dipping sauce (achaar – but different than the momo achar, this one had tomato and tamarind in it) complements the flavors of the breading and the onion/jalapeno mix extremely well. I don’t usually like tamarind at all, but I REALLY liked it with this dish. This was a great way to start our meal.

The waitress then brought out a giant platter of long grain rice, along with our various entrees. We all ended up sampling each other’s plates just to see who had the best one.

My Yak Keema was quite good. The yak meat is ground up and mixed in with the spices, and then tomatoes and potatoes are thrown into the melee. There’s cilantro on top of the dish for just the right amount of flavor. It wasn’t spicy at all, which makes me think I should have gone with the actual HOT designation. But the flavor of the dish absolutely made up for it. It doesn’t look like much (in fact, it does sort of look like mush), but it is really good.

SecretMeat’s Lamb Curry was also really quite good. Better than my Yak, actually. Generous pieces of lamb meat mixed with green peppers, tomatoes, and a bunch of other spices had a fantastic flavor. SecretMeat isn’t from this country, and really likes her food spicy, so she ordered this insane hot sauce on the side. She loved it and ended up putting it on everything. I tried it and really liked it, but I prefer my blazing hot sauce mixed in with my food, so it’s spread over a larger portion evenly. That’s just me. Like I said, the lamb curry is awesome.

The winning dish of the evening was the Chicken Curry. I didn’t think it would be, but it absolutely blew us away. It was combined with the Jogi, so it was a little difficult to pick the flavors apart from each dish, but the whole thing worked really well together. Lots of chick peas and chicken pieces. The spiciness could have been kicked up a notch or two, like all of our dishes, but it was still a brilliant plate of food.

We ended up ordering a plate of garlic Naan for our meal and we were glad we did. IT had large pieces of garlic pressed into the top of the bread, so be ready for that, but you’ll be glad you ordered it. We weren’t sure if it came with the dish (it doesn’t), so we ordered it after our food already came out.

You’d think all three of these plates would taste the same, since they all look like brown piles or mush with cilantro on top. However, they don’t taste the same at all. Each one has a very distinct flavor and texture, even. This is one of the better meals we’ve had in a while and all of us went home full. Well… sort of full, we walked across the street to Kowalski’s to grab a little dessert…

Just go here. I REALLY want to come here for the lunch buffet they have, but I’ll have to figure out when I can “work” from home…

Top 5 things about Everest on Grand
1. Kukhurako Maasu (Chicken curry) with Jogi-tarkari
2. Pyaji
3. Bheda-ko Maasu (Lamb curry)
4. Yak Keema
5. Yak Momo

Bottom 5 things
1. Don’t be afraid of the spice here – order up a level if you like it hot
2. I didn’t get dessert here, and I really like the desserts they had on the menu (my own fault)
3. The coupon we brought couldn’t be used on Saturdays – super bummer
4. There seemed to be a lot of surly unhappy painfully-white couples not enjoying the delicious food they were eating – there were enough there that I’m now commenting on it.
5. A little confusing when ordering a combination of plates from the combo section. We THINK we got what we ordered, but it’s hard to tell (this gives me a reason to go back to Everest a few more times… hahaha)

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