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Berkeley - Taste of the Himalayas Nepalese/Indian Buffet

rworange | Nov 18, 200502:44 AM

You have to like a Nepalese chain. How many of those are there? TOTH has two more restaurants in San Francisco and Sonoma.

I am now on a momo crawl of the four Nepalese/Tibetan restaurants in the area and checking out what is specific to those cuisines … well, as far as what is available in Berkeley and Albany.

Trying to see how much Nepalese food there is on the cheap at lunch buffets, it was mostly Indian. For $6.95 it was a good deal with about a dozen dishes that were fresh tasting. Nothing except the naan rocked my world, but the food was tasty and the money was well spent.

The naan at Naan and Curry is now only the second best in the Bay Area, IMO. A made-to-order basket of hot, light, pillowy, slightly charred naan comes with the buffet. There was a taste of ghee in it too. Excellent.

Momo (Nepalese dumplings) at TOTH are like steamed pot stickers and come with a spicy red sauce. The menu describes them as “steamed dumplings filled with minced lamb, onion, cabbage & spices”.

The Chronicle review describes it best “This juicy dumpling marries Chinese and Indian cooking traditions -- a thin, silky wrapper, as in the best dim sum, and a moist, cumin-spiced filling.” It wasn’t part of the buffet and was ordered separately. I liked them, but there is nothing to compare with yet. There’s a picture on the website ‘about’ link.

The restaurant website has the menu. Nepalese dishes are clearly marked. There is an excellent Chronicle review on the website.

TOTH also has special monthly events celebrating festivals, like October’s Dashain Night which served a Nepalese Dashain Bhoj (feast). Entertainment included Nepalese dances and songs. Dashain is the “festival of respect and delight. It is the symbol of victory which is celebrated by the Hindus for the defeat of evils and winning of truth”. All for $25. Some of the festival nights are as low as $12.

For the record, today’s buffet included: Aloo kaoli, zucchini curry, yellow dal, bandacopy (cabbage), Kuthrako mashu, tandoori chicken, rice, green salad, three sauces (mint, mango, tamarind), vegetable pakora, mismas tarkari, and kheer. They are described on the website.

The mismas tarkari, mixed vegetables cooked in onion and tomato sauce, was the only uniquely Nepalese dish and was just fine. The cabbage COULD be Nepalese, but wasn’t identified as such and is not on the menu. The best dish was the kuthrako mashu which was a savory chicken in sauce. The tandoori chicken was pretty good too. The only thing I didn’t like was the vegetable pakora. Those fried items don’t do well on steam tables. The kheer was only ok and I wouldn’t order this off the regular menu. The three thin sauces were tasty, but didn’t taste like their descriptions. The only other nit was that many of today’s dishes were turmeric-based.

The items in the buffet are different every day. It seemed that certain dishes are served on specific days. On Friday the buffet has lamb.

There are also a few special dishes that are changed monthly. This month they include:

Dal Makhani
Chicken Asparagus
Chicken Man Pasand
Methi lamb
Salmon Tandoori

The website says “Nepal offers diverse culture, tradition and of course foods. Therefore Nepal has a distinctive assortment of gourmet delights which is still a hidden treasure. But we try to explore the delight and serve in front of you. We therefore try to bring lots of changes in our foods every time.”

I'm guessing the menu also reflects the diverse culture of Berkeley as well. There probably isn't too much salmon in the Himalayas.

Depending on what I see at the other restaurants in the area, I’ll probably go back for dinner to try some more of the Nepalese dishes, probably during one of the festival nights. That naan alone is worth a visit.

As the Chronicle said when you enter there is “a greeting of "namaste" -- the traditional Nepalese greeting which, roughly translated, means "I bow to you”. I bowed back.

Taste of the Himalayas
1700 Shattuck Ave (at Virginia)
Berkeley, CA 94709

(510) 849-4983
(510) 520-9943

Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily (including buffet)
Dinner 5-10 p.m. daily

The website has links to the Sonoma and SF restaurant websites. There are a few differences in the menus.

Link: http://www.tasteofthehimalayas.com/

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