I shared lunch with a diner at Mount Everest Restaurant after chatting a bit about her food experiences in Nepal and Tibet.
I ordered the chicken momos and the Berkeley Special Shrimp Choila, Lamb Choila, Chicken Sekuwa, Dal Bhat Tarkari, Achar and dessert.
She ordered Bhutanese Chili Chicken and Chatepate Kulcha (naan with onion, mint and green chili).
Dal Bhat Tarkari (lentil soup, rice, curried vegetables) is the main staple of Nepali people eaten twice daily - in the morning and the evening. At Mount Everest it was served in a metal plate divided into separate compartments called "Thal". Heres a link to a picture I found on the web.
This is what would result if a metal pizza pan mated with a lazy Susan. A large, light, whisper-thin papad topped the rice. A small dish of turmeric-based potato achar came on the side. The dal was thick and seemed to have some chick peas in addition to lentils.
The dal is poured over the rice then a bit of tarkari or achar is added and everything is eaten together. I used a spoon and didnt go totally Nepalese by eating it with my right hand.
There was a separate sizzling . . . sizzling platter with Shrimp Choila and Chicken Sekuwa on a bed of thinly sliced white onions, browned from the hot metal dish. Another regular plate had the lamb Choila.
The Berkeley special also comes with free lightly (very lightly) spiced hot clear tea and a lovely light charred piece of plain naan. The dessert was Indian gulab jamun (fried milk balls in syrup) which was ok. Im not a fan of most Indian sweets.
Tarkari best Ive tried to date and almost better than the meat part of this meal. It was a spicy curry of green beans, eggplant, and at least five types of different beans.
Shrimp Choila red with Nepalese spices and tails charred black, these clay oven roasted shrimp were tingly spicy hot.
Lamb Choila tiny sugar-cube sized pieces of lamb had a spice-crusted exterior and were pleasantly chewy. Like the shrimp, there was the heat from the Nepalese spices with a little bit of a citrus taste.
Chicken Sekuwa these were delicious pieces of chicken in a garlic-based spicy Kathmandu marinade and also cooked in a clay oven.
The momo, round steamed Nepalese dumplings, were the second best Ive tried to date. The chicken filling has a nice herb mixed with it and came with a mildly spicy achar of tomatoes, red chili, cilantro and ginger. The chile/tomato taste dominated
My dining companion who has had momos in Tibet and Nepal said the difference in styles had to do with the wrappers, filling and size. Tibetan momos usually have thicker wrappings and are larger. I cant remember which country she said usually were beef.
She said it was unlikely either country used chicken. Chickens in that part of the world are not usually eaten until they are very old and that often produce dishes with very chewy and tough meat.
Bhutanese Chili Chicken boneless chicken breast marinated in a home style Bhutanese masala and deep fried in olive oil and sautéed with green chili, onions, tomato sauce, cilantro, herbs and spices. I thought it was good with lots of heat, but my lunch companion didnt care for the onions or the deep frying. Heres a little about Bhutanese cuisine:
I also tried the Mango lassi which was fresh tasting.
Obviously Mount Everest takes advantage of California ingredients using shrimp, chicken breast and olive oil. It doesnt interfere with the dish. Its like Goia Pizza is New York pizza only with better local ingredients.
There is a section on the menu for the Nepalese food. They also have Dahi, home made yogurt. There is a vegetable version of the momos and tarkari, Choila and Sekewa with different types of meats, fish or veggies. Theres a vegetable singara described as a type of a samosa ... a flaky Nepalese style savory wheat turnover filled with seasoned potato, green peas and herbs. There are two soups, one a clear chicken soup and the other a garlic herb soup.
Mount Everest has done a pretty good job of disguising that this was a Burger King location. There are a few Nepalese paintings and pictures on the walls. The tables are covered with white tablecloths topped with glass. But the plastic booths remain and the banquette that runs along one wall is plastic. However, it is not that noticeable and the place looks nice with Indian music playing softly in the background.
The Indian side of the menu looks standard with some tandooi chicken and lamb dishes.
Heres a review from the Daily Californian
2011 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
Open seven days, the restaurant is closed from 3:30 5 pm
Monday Saturday: 11:30 am 10 pm
Sunday: Noon 10 pm