Lhasa Fast Food is a favorite stop on my Himalayan Heights Food Tour. Tucked away behind a cell phone store, it’s a veritable Shangrila of Tibetan cooking. Last year the hidden restaurant’s beef dumplings took home the coveted Golden Momo, the trophy awarded to the best momo in the annual Momo Crawl. Juicy and scented with Sichuan peppercorn and Chinese celery the little packages are made to order and well worth the wait. The other day I discovered a secret momo being served at this momo speakeasy: chu-tse momo.(more…)
Refreshing and much easier to eat than its blockier cousin.
Lhasa Fast Food is a favorite stop on my Jackson Heights food tours. My fellow travelers are always amazed to discover a family-run Tibetan eatery tucked behind a cell phone store. The momo are excellent, too. The other day I made a discovery of my own—laphing serpo ($6)—while leading a tour of what I like to call Himalayan Heights.
“Yellow laphing,” the cook said when I gestured to a mass of what looked to be dough behind the counter. Laphing, slippery blocky cold mung bean jelly noodles, bathed in black vinegar, garlic and chilies is quite common on Tibetan menus. This was my first encounter with the yellow variety, though. (more…)
I love having guests on my food tours try po cha—the salty Tibetan butter tea—served throughout Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. I like the stuff particularly on a cold winter—or spring—day. Not everyone’s a fan, though. Andrew Zimmern hated butter tea when I introduced him to it. (more…)
“What’s in those jars?” I asked my pal Rojina at Dhaulaghiri Kitchen the other night. “Oh that’s very spicy, Nepali people eat it with their thali,” she replied. She knows me as someone who does not shy away from the heat of chili peppers. In fact she’d just taught me how to make the popular snack sandheko waiwai and was amazed at how much red pepper powder I added. So when she characterized dalle pickle as “very spicy” I knew it must be no joke. (more…)
Phayul’s fried momo are even tastier than they look.
There are many wonderful things about Phayul, the second-floor Tibetan eatery overlooking the hustle and bustle of Himalayan Heights. Chele khatsa, spicy fried beef tongue, and tsak sha chu rul, a pungent beef and cheese soup come to mind. Even though I’ve been eating at Phayul for several years I’m still discovering new things, like fried momo. (more…)
Today marks the third day of Losar, a lunar New Year festival that’s celebrated as much in the Himalayas themselves as it is in Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. In order to help you get into the spirit of the 15-day celebration of the Year of the Wood Horse, here’s a list of my favorite Tibetan and Nepalese dishes in the neighborhood.
1. Goat Sukuti at Dhaulagiri Kitchen
“Oh, we have buffalo and goat sukuti too,” Kamala Gauchan the matriarch of this shoebox-sized Nepali gem told me a few weeks ago. I almost fell out of my chair when she said the types of this traditional jerky went beyond beef. And then I tasted the goat version. I’d be lying if I said I fell out of my chair, but it is absolutely amazing. Drying the meat has concentrated the goat flavor to such a degree that it almost tastes like cheese. Served in a spicy sauce—a Nepali ragu if you will—as part of a thali it is simply lovely. 37-38 72nd St., Jackson Heights
Losar kapsi, or New Year’s cookies at Lhasa Fast Food.
Tomorrow is a very special day for the Bhutanese, Nepalese,and Tibetan residents of Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. It’s Losar, or Lunar New Year, so C+M wishes you Losar la tashi delek, happy Year of the Wood Horse. Last night I stopped into Lhasa Fast Food and found the staff eating what I later learned from a friend was a special nine-ingredient New Year’s soup. Had I not filled up on subpar dosa I’d have taken them up on their offer to join them for dinner. Like many area restaurants, Lhasa Fast Food will be closed on Losar itself, but if you wish score some losar kapsi, or Himalayan New Year’s cookies you should stop by today.One neighborhood mainstay that will be open tomorrow is Dhaulagiri Kitchen. Oh, and since Losar is a 15-day celebration be sure to check back Monday for a list of C+M’s favorite Himalayan dishes.
These thick-skinned beauties are perfect on a winter’s day.
At the end of the day momos are just beef dumplings and I will never ever get as excited about them as folks from the Himalayan diaspora do. There are now more than a dozen restaurants and four food trucks in Jackson Heights that serve them. Momos are to Tibetans and Nepalese as hamburgers are to Americans—a national dish that evokes gatherings with family and friends. “What’s the big deal about a hamburger?” I imagine a Tibetan saying. “It’s just two pieces of bread with ground beef in between.” But enough momo musing. I’m here to tell you I’ve discovered a momo that is the very essence of winter comfort food: the kothe momo. (more…)
This Tibetan soup smells like stinky French cheese.
“Have you had it before?” the waitress at Phayul asked when I ordered the tsak sha chu rul ($3.99), or “beef and Tibet cheese soup.” The note of concern in her voice was in no small part due to this dish’s rather pungent bouquet. I nodded my assent and waited for the bowl of what smells not unlike a Tibetan tallegio to arrive. (more…)
The sukati roll’s the very essence of Himalayan Heights.
PLEASE NOTE DHAULAGHIRI KITCHEN IS CLOSED
For as long as I have been eating my way through Queens, Tawa Foods has housed a small battalion of South Asian ladies rolling out scores of paratha and roti. As Jackson Heights has morphed to become Himalayan Heights the tiny Tawa has taken on a co-tenant, the wonderful Nepalese restaurant Dhaulagiri Kitchen.
Nepali in the front and Pakistani in the back Tawa tells the story of the neighborhood. As Nepalese and Tibetans diners seeking a taste of back home tuck into exquisite thalis—mounds of rice ringed with various pickles and curries—South Indians stroll in to stock up on some of the freshest Indian bread in Queens. The space is a fusion of two cuisines that have seldom, if ever, mingled. To my mind this is a great shame. Thus was born the sukati roll.(more…)