Himalayan’s Top-Notch Starters
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A quick word of advice: If ever someone utters a sentence containing the words “Himalayan Kitchen,” don’t wait for the inevitable conclusion regarding your interest in a Nepali and Indian lunch or dinner. It’ll just cut into your appetizer time. In this case, haste is a virtue.
The four-year old Kaimuki restaurant is a must for anyone who likes fresh, spicy and flavorful cuisine. And don’t let the word spicy cause fear. It’s a relative term that chef and owner Suman Basnet is more than happy to customize for individual taste. Of course, that’s easy to say for a confirmed fire eater, but I have the heat tolerance of a four-year old, and the combination of seasoning and spices was both tempting and tolerable. Seriously, if you haven’t been here, go! Everything is made fresh in house including the yogurt, cheese, bread and spices.
On a recent visit, yours truly and his trusted photographer side kick shared Chicken Tikka Salad ($9.95), Hemp Spicy Chicken Strips ($6.95), Everest Choeela ($7.95), Himalayan Saag Dip ($8.95) and Jalapeno Garlic Naan ($4.95). We put a hurtin’ on those pupus and even spent enough play time mixing appetizer ingredients to create who knows how many new flavors.
Chicken Tikka Salad is a cool, fresh mix of lettuce, mint, tomato, cucumber, cashews, raisins and tandoori chicken served with two dressings — a mustard vinaigrette and a house green chutney and cilantro dressing. The refreshing salad is not only tasty, but makes an excellent palate cleanser for what is about to come next. In fact, if you also like playing with your food, mix the salad with the Everest Choeela.
A cold-served mix of tandoori chicken, cumin, coriander, tumeric, tomato, onion, jalapeno and lemon juice, Everest Choeela is so full of flavor and surprisingly light you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried it before. Each bite is fresh, crunchy and popping with flavor. The pool of juices also makes a good repository for the naan, or crunchy segments of bread that come with the Himalayan Saag Dip. Figuring out which to dip isn’t an easy assignment. Himalayan offers 14 different types of bread that includes the traditional soft leavened flat bread and mix and match combinations guaranteed to never become repetitive. I recommend trying a few as the Himalayan Saag Dip is plentiful enough for experimentation.
The spinach and cream cheese dip is mixed with a blend of house-ground spices that produces a spread flavorful enough to “edibilize” a shoe. Even an old shoe worn too long by a coworker enthralled with “petable” rodents. Yes, it’s that good. The Himalayan Saag Dip comes with tandoori naan that is baked and deep-fried to create crunchy platforms of dipping implements, but feel free to try it with any number of the other offered starches.
One final note on the Hemp Spicy Chicken Strips — they are hot! But, like anything else, can be dialed down. The bite-sized pieces of chicken are marinated in a combination of spices and grilled in the tandoori oven, resulting in a flavorful and moist appetizer that is sure to please.
1137 11th Ave., Honolulu
Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (Lunch)
Daily, 5-10 p.m. (Dinner)