My interest in the Himalayan food came from a strange inspiration; snow leopards. I have a passion for snow leopards ever since I saw the mountain episode of Planet Earth. They live in the Himalayan Mountains and are endangered species. My love for the leopards expanded to an increasing love for all things Himalayan and from the Himalayas. I wanted to go there, it seems so far away, the ultimate exotic location. There was no chance I would be traveling to the Himalayas any time soon but I was dying to learn more.
So when I was reading Los Angeles Magazine and saw a mini review on Tara’s Himalayan Cuisine, my mouth dropped open and I freaked out a little. This only intensified when I realized that this restaurant was a mile away from my new apartment, right on Venice Blvd. One quick trip to Yelp and discovered that this place is rated at a pretty high 4.5 stars from 105 reviews. I made plans to dine there that night.
The restaurant is quaint. Little Christmas lights decorate the patio. Inside there is a lot of Nepalese fabrics and posters of the Himalayas on the wall. We got sat in the corner of the restaurant, underneath some beautiful (seemed to be) hand painted prayer flags.
We got the menu and since it was quite a cold night, both my dining companion and I ordered some hot tea immediately. The menu was extensive and had a lot of appetizers, combination and lunch specials, chicken, lamb, tandoori, a list of house specialties (including yak!) and breads.
I was starving and I was excited, so we ordered a lot of apps and an entrée each, along with two orders of garlic naan.
First came an order of momo’s - nepalese dumplings, filled with vegetables and aserved with a tomato dipping sauce. Very very yummy sauce. The dumplings were good too, the wrapper was just thick enough, though they sort of fell apart. You can order them steamed or fried, with vegetables or meat. We ordered them steamed but next time we may try them fried next time.
We also ordered vegetable pakora, which reminded me of a very good falafel, a mash up of vegetables , potatoes, chilis, rolled in a ball and deep fried.
The samosas were the best I had ever had, at any Indian restaurant, anywhere. The filling tasted so fresh, not overly cooked like most samosas. They chutney was excellent, we had to order a side of it.
I ordered the okra curry. First of all, I have never had okra, and second of all, this was unlike any other “curry” I have eaten. It was more like an okra sauté. And it was the most delicious sauté I have ever had. Thick chunks of okra, the texture I can only describe as mini eggplants, garlic, small pieces of tomato and a combination of spices unmatched to any flavor I have ever had. It was one of the most flavorful things I had ever eaten.
My companion ordered makhani chicken, simmered in a creamy herb and spices, not spicy sauce. It was also delicious. Thick, but not heavy, and again, another flavor I had never tasted anywhere.
And then there was the naan. I am a sucker for freshly baked anything, and naan was a particular favorite of mine. This naan was thinner then other naan I have eaten before, but it was still chewy and the thinness allowed it to crisp up in some places, a definite plus.
I can’t wait to return to Tara’s, there is so many more things on the menu I want, no I NEED to try. Their bread list alone goes on for a entire page, and includes 7 different naans, paratha, roti and chapati. There is an enitre page of vegetaian dishes, desserts and drinks, like mango lassi, which I hear they make their own yogurt for.
For the adventurous diner, they have Yak chili, a popular Nepalesedelicacy. I would be surprised if you can find yak in other restaurants around LA.
As I see it, Himalayan food is the perfect combo between fresh and spicy southeast asian food from Thailand and Malaysia, and hearty, fulfilling food from India and Pakistan.
Tara’s Himalayan Cuisine is located in Mar Vista, on Venice Blvd, and are open till 10 pm on weeknights, 11 pm on the weekends.