Tara’s Himalayan (updated with photos)

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

We recently had the pleasure of finally stopping by a quaint little hole-in-the-wall restaurant just a stone’s throw away from our apartment – Tara’s Himalayan Cuisine on Venice.

When we first walked in, it felt like we had been transported to someone’s grandmother’s house in Nepal. The decor was warm and inviting with many paintings and traditional-looking textiles. As soon as we were seated, we were greeted by a friendly server who warned us we would have to wait for the chai tea. He was only gone for a minute or two and returned with two steaming hot mugs, the aroma of cinnamon and cardamom wafting in his wake. A small packet of Sugar in the Raw stirred into each and we were in chai heaven. Shortly after, a basket of fresh crispy papadum and a yummy chutney (was it tomato?) arrived at our table. It was deliciously seasoned and had a wonderfully crunchy texture. Just from the “table bread” and drinks, we knew were in for a treat!

For our entrees, I picked the bheda ko tarkari (from the website: “Boneless fresh lamb curry prepared with tomatoes, garlic, ginger, onions, and Himalayan spices”) and Martin selected the lamb vindaloo (“Boneless lamb curry served with potatoes and mountain grown herbs and spices”). The curries come with a little terrine of white rice (and more if you ask for it!) but I also added an order of garlic naan. The lamb in both dishes was tender and included some bits of fat and cartilage, which I personally LOVE. My bheda ko tarkari was full of spices and flavor but not particularly spicy, whereas Martin’s vindaloo had a great freshness from all the vegetables and had a little kick to it. We were pretty amazed that the two lamb curries complemented each other quite well; neither were heavy but they definitely had that stick-to-your-ribs comfort food sort of quality. But the naan… oh the naan! Tara’s is definitely not afraid to go all the way with the garlic on their garlic naan. I just had to order a second helping. The naan here is thinner and less fluffy than other places but it’s also much more crispy and it arrives piping hot fresh from the tandoori. Martin enjoyed the rice, commenting that the slight dryness of the basmati allowed it to soak up the curry really well. We concluded that this would become part of our regular dinner rotation.

Just when we thought our dinner couldn’t get better, Tara herself stopped by our table and asked us how everything was. She was very amiable and while I didn’t recognize her initially, Martin correctly guessed that she had to be the Tara. She shared with us her secret recipe for the chai tea we loved so much, one of many recipes in her restaurant that she learned from her own grandmother when living in the mountains in Nepal. It was traditionally brewed with yak’s milk and served unsweetened as sugar was scarce. (Recipe to come.)

Be sure to stop by her restaurant – not only is the food amazing, but 10% of all profits goes directly to supporting children’s education in Nepal! What a delicious way to support such a worthy cause! Tell her Martin & Alice sent you :)

(originally published 9/5/11)

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Update 11/1/11:

A few weeks ago we took my parents here for dinner and were able to try a great variety of dishes, all of which were scrumptious! As soon as we walked through the door (and on subsequent visits when it’s just me and Martin), we are greeted by Neel, the friendly server referenced above. The rule of thumb here is to order one dish/curry per person and share family-style.

Our delicious dinner!

We settled on the tandoori chicken, bhedo ko tarkari (my favorite lamb dish on their menu!), salmon machha ko masu, and their signature dish — yak chili. The first to come out was the tandoori chicken, making its grand arrival on a hot, sizzling cast iron plate.

Hot and sizzling tandoori chicken (pardon the blurriness)

I was already a big fan of the bheda ko tarkari, but the yak chili hit the spot with its chewy jerky-like texture and chili oil sauce. However, the most pleasant surprise of the night was the salmon dish. I think that’s become Martin’s new favorite.

Of course, the meal would not be complete without my absolute favorite component of an Indian (well, in this case Himalayan) meal: garlic naan.

A particularly photogenic basket of garlic naan!

All in all, my parents had a great time experiencing a new cuisine. And with its comforting decor, pleasant service, and delicious food, Tara’s has become a winter staple for me and Martin. :)

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Check out Tara’s Himalayan Cuisine: www.tarashimalayancuisine.com

10855 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034

See their Yelp reviews here.

They are open 7 days/week. Mon-Thurs and Sunday from 12-10pm and Fridays & Saturdays from 12-11pm.

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