On a Friday night, R.S., A.C., and I grabbed dinner at Cafe Himalaya, a tiny, cheap, and incredibly busy restaurant on 1st and 1st. The food is Himalayan/Nepalese and is very vegetarian friendly. We sat down at about 7:00pm and watched the line of people grow. It was cold outside so they all waited inside, squished between tables while staring at our food as we ate. It was as if they were counting down for their turn on the swing. Not ideal for a mini high school reunion catch up dinner. Probably a better venue for a quick dinner before a night out across Houston in Lower East Side. We all started with a cup of homemade darjeeling tea with milk and sugar ($1.50). It tasted like Hong Kong milk tea with condensed milk. It was a little creamy for my taste but R.S. and A.C. both got second rounds. They also have butter tea… which I had my share of in Tibet. If you haven’t had it, it’s worth trying. It’s tea with salt, butter, and milk… very much an acquired taste.
R.S. ordered the Tsel Khowa ($7.50), a mixed vegetable curry cooked “Nepali style” with basmati rice. I didn’t get to try it but like Serious Eats said, it looked like there was too much broth. I prefer heartier curries, not watered down soups. On the other hand, vegetables did look fresh.
A.C. ordered the Chili Shrimp ($10.50), spicy shrimp cooked in onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and ginger sauce served with basmati rice.
I ordered the chicken equivalent, which is not normally something I do because I find chicken quite boring and not fit for a Friday night dinner. Looking back I think I simply craved chicken that night… I definitely should have tried something a little different, such as the Shapta, which is a traditional tibetan spicy beef dish. My Chili Chicken ($9.50) was … meh. As in, meh was the sound I made in my head after my first bite. Chicken was slightly battered and fried with lots of half-cooked onions and bell peppers. Flavors were slightly sweet, a little spiceful, and barely spicy. Not too bad.
I don’t think I would come back. The food wasn’t that great for restaurant food and definitely wasn’t weird enough to intrigue me. Prices are low but Xi’an Famous Noodles is even cheaper and way, way tastier.