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Mt. Everest Kitchen

The strange yet strangely familiar (and undeniably delicious) cuisine of Nepal
By MC SLIM JB  |  July 1, 2009

Asked to create pithy descriptions of obscure cuisines, food writers often triangulate, using familiar geographic signposts to nudge readers into the general neighborhood. Example: "The Nepalese cuisine served at Mt. Everest Kitchen may remind you by turns of Northern Indian and Tibetan fare." That unfairly steamrolls Nepal's ethnic richness and regional diversity. It's nearly as crude as saying American cuisine is a cross between Canadian and Mexican. Still, maybe you'll guess from my description that Nepalese cuisine includes clay-oven flatbreads, legume and vegetable curries, rice, noodles, and dumplings. You'll understand you're headed somewhere new, but it isn't Mars.

A complimentary cold-vegetable curry recalls the Punjab, but with novel condiments: puffed rice and two thick, smoky chili sauces (one hot, the other hotter). Masu mo mo ($4.95), six steamed ground-pork dumplings, are a Tibetan mainstay, here improved by more delicate wrappers. Chow chow ($7.95), spaghetti-thin wheat noodles stir-fried with crisp vegetables, soy sauce, and cilantro, evokes Tibetan chhassa chow, which in turn recalls Chinese lo mein. Kukhura ko jhol ($2.95) is a reductive clear-broth chicken soup any culture would be proud to serve. Pharsi ko tarkari ($8.95), a mild, sweet-spiced squash purée, draws from Nepal's Pahari cuisine and its Hindu vegetarian tradition. Aloo bodi taama ($8.95) is a subtle, slightly sour, ginger-y curry of black-eyed peas, potatoes, and bamboo shoots. (Be aware that mild/medium/hot requests are honored here — hot means hot.)

There's a broad range of meat and seafood (including lamb, salmon, and shrimp, but no beef) in a variety of sauces, like khasi ko masu ($11.95), a fine, tomato-y stew of goat on the bone, and kukhura ko masu ($9.95), a garlicky chicken curry. These come with plain, fragrant basmati, or you can order excellent, quite naan-like rooti ($2.50). You might finish with a traditional Nepalese digestif of dahi ($1.50), a cooling yogurt dish with a slightly chunky texture, or a Nepali salad ($1.50) of carrots, cherry tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and lemon. Beverage options include the chai-like Mt. Everest chiya ($1.50) and sweet lassi-like dahi ko goras ($2). The noteworthy dessert is khir ($2.50), a tasty, loose rice pudding. Portions and prices yield better value than many nearby Indian restaurants. With two dozen seats in a storefront space, Mt. Everest is cozy, its service affable and patient — the owners clearly understand their educational challenges. Here's hoping more locals give this delicious cuisine a shot. It really isn't so strange, after all.

Mt. Everest Kitchen, located at 182 Brighton Avenue, in Allston, is open Sunday–Thursday, 11:30 am–10 pm, and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 am–11 pm. Call 617.254.4912.

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