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The Gossiping Gourmet: Find a taste of Tibet at Himalayan Grill

February 02, 2011|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Himalayan Grill at Peter's Landing Marina offers Indian, Nepalese and Tibeten dishes, such as chicken biryani, bengan bharta and samosas.
Himalayan Grill at Peter's Landing Marina offers… (KENT TREPTOW, HB…)

The Himalayan Grill serves a wide variety of superior Indian food. Reviewers have raved about the tandoori chicken and chicken tikka masala, but we were intrigued by the possibility of tasting Tibetan food, which, to our knowledge, is not available anywhere else in the OC.

This small, charming restaurant is located in an odd-shaped little space in Peter's Landing. The décor is warm and welcoming. A glass waterfall etched with a bamboo motif greets you as you enter. Soft lighting, candles on the tables, two-toned orange walls, photos of the mountains and their people and a variety of artifacts help prepare you for the interesting meal ahead.

As we walked to our seats, we couldn't help but notice delicious-looking food on every table we passed. The menu is primarily Indian food, including two thalis, one of which is vegetarian. A thali is like a buffet on a platter. The non-veg thali has a samosa, tandoori chicken, lamb or chicken curry, dal, rice, naan and dessert. However, we were drawn to the Tibetan/Nepali dishes. These are more rustic and hearty than many of the more refined Indian offerings.

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Momos, thupkas and chau chaus are as close to Tibet as we are likely to get. The momo is a dumpling quite similar to Chinese steamed dumplings, but the filling is different. You may choose between chicken, vegetable or lamb. The momos we ordered were wrapped, plump chicken meatballs. The dumpling wrapper was particularly delicate and the meat mixture was absolutely delicious. It was served with a spicy tomato cilantro sauce called achar, which added a nice touch of tasty heat, although its tan color was a little off-putting.

Thupka is a lusty and satisfying cold-weather dish; a complexly seasoned tomato-based soup, chock full of thin noodles, red and white cabbage, peas, mushrooms, carrots and chicken. You can also get it with lamb or vegetarian-style.

Another noodle dish, this time pan-fried, is the chau chau. Again, you have a choice of chicken, vegetable, lamb or shrimp. This was the most ordinary entrée of the evening. The shrimp chau chau was mostly noodles, which were somewhat greasy, without any distinctive flavor, plus a mere four little shrimp and a few bits of chicken and vegetables.

All the menu items in the restaurant can be prepared to your liking: mild, medium or hot. We found medium to be a bit mild; next time, we will go for hot.

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