Yes please, to Nepalese

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WE were looking for something delicious to treat our tastebuds to and  A Taste of Himalaya, tucked into a small spot on Palmerston Lane in Manuka, was our destination.

Chef Surya Maharja… mastered the art of creating delicate dishes with character. Photo by Silas Brown
Owner and chef Surya Maharja, former Hyatt chef de cuisine, is from Nepal and started whipping up authentic Himalayan cuisine many moons ago.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but had heard the goat curry and the “momo”, Himalayan-style dumplings, were sensational. True to the style of cuisine, you’ll find many dishes created with mild gravies, but not many smothered in sweet coconut sauces.

Surya has mastered the art of creating delicate dishes with character. The steamed momo are a case in point – tiny parcels of chicken, garlic, coriander and ginger (you can also choose the vegetable version). The hot sauce served on the side adds heat for those who want to burn, baby, burn.

It’s the goat curry I’m keen on. Goat is a fabulous red meat and more Canberra chefs are using it. It’s low fat, high in nutrition and absorbs spices well. I’m attracted to its intense, earthy flavour. The curry is a true winner, as was the homemade tomato chutney and even those hesitant to try goat were pleased ($18.50). The fish masala wasn’t as inspiring, although the cumin-infused lentil was lovely ($18.90).

The creamy dahl is a point of pride for Surya and, please, order the beaten rice. The rice is parboiled and then rolled, flattened and dried to produce small, crunchy flakes that can be sprinkled on practically any of the Nepalese food. Other traditional vegetarian dishes make their appearance, although the list isn’t extensive.

The menu also offers dishes for the not-so-adventurous, including lamb, salmon and, somewhat oddly, a penne (mains up to just under $30).

A Taste of Himalaya occupies a restaurant space that has been part of Manuka for yonks. It is divided into two distinct spaces with the entrance smack in the middle, a structural issue almost impossible to fix. And the décor? Basic and crying out for more.

A Taste of Himalaya, Palmerston Lane, Manuka. Call 6260 7077, BYO only. Open lunch, Monday-Friday; dinner, Tuesday-Sunday.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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