I'm finally back on most solid foods. I ate at Kathmandu Spice in Arlington last night - this place has been consistently very good.
* We got an order of alu tama, which is the VERY typical Nepali stew of black-eyed peas, potato chunks and 'tama', which is an umami/sour-tasting fermented bamboo shoot. Can't find this at any Indian restaurant. Although I prefer my tama to be sliced a little thinner and slightly more crunchy, the flavors of the dish were all there.
* Tangy Eggplant - I've never heard of anything like this being eaten in Nepal. It was outstanding. About six large flat strips of crispy eggplant, on a plate of tamarind-y sauce, sprinkled with a few peanuts. The sauce didn't overpower or dominate, but added a nice zippy sweetness to the perfectly done thin eggplant strips. We ended up mixing plain rice in the sauce after the eggplant was finished, just to soak up the saucy goodness. I'd sum up this dish as being a combination of Yu Hsiang eggplant, with the crispy pan-friedness of a good eggplant parm. Mmm.
* Mushroom and tomato shashlik with homemade cheese - Also never heard of this in Nepal, but I was glad we ordered it for the homemade cheese. 3 shashlik (kebab/skewers) of alternating cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, roast onion and cubes of cheese. The stand-out flavor was the homemade cheese. It was denser and richer than paneer, had a more complex and smoky flavor. Much stronger dairy flavor and mouthfeel than standard paneer. The vegetables were just okay - if I could order just the cheese next time, I would. :) Maybe a big log of it. Mmmm.
* Goat sekuwa appetizer. This is generally a very dry dish of spiced goat. Kathmandu Spice's rendition gave some moist boneless pieces that were marinated in some mixture of yogurt and VERY pungent spicing. These were not hot, per se, just very strongly flavored, and almost a tad too much salt. Dipped in the accompanying cilantro sauce (dhanya ko achar) to balance the spicing and cool the mouth, we gobbled these right up.
* Alu ko achaar. Very traditional Nepali side dish of spiced potatoes, almost always made with roasted sesame seeds. I didn't try any for this reason as I am deathly allergic to sesame. The others enjoyed the dish, but found it to be very different than what we grew up with. I suspect it is one of those dishes that varies wildly based on the way your mom/household made it.
Service was good, a huge improvement from a few months ago when I came and it was nearly non-existent due to crowd. Last night (Sat) wasn't so bad, perhaps because of the snow. Our waitress was a very sweet Nepali woman with whom I tried chatting briefly in my broke-ass Nepali skillz. :)