>> Kathmandu Fusion Kitchen | Eat the World NYC

12 March 2018

Kathmandu Fusion Kitchen


In a different part of town, or possibly with a different cuisine, the words "Fusion Kitchen" would be enough to send a savvy eater running for the hills. Here on 61st Street in Woodside, not far removed from the epicenter of the Himalayan community, these words follow the capital of Nepal and are not quite as scary. An inspection of the menu shows a couple Japanese and Indian items are the reason for this "fusion," but a page of interesting Newa-style Nepali foods was cause for excitement.

Kathmandu and the surrounding valley is the only place in Nepal that has access to an abundance of produce from fertile soils, and this usually translates to the Newa (or Newari) foods being the most diverse and tasty. Many of the restaurants in Jackson Heights serve some Newa-style foods, but the list here includes dishes never seen before on these pages.

The group's ordering strategy was a bit different than usual on this night thanks to the addition of a vegetarian friend, but in Kathmandu this really requires no sacrifice. The first dish to arrive was the vegetarian samaya bajee ($9.95, above), a dish of distinct Newa significance. It is a ceremonial plate eaten during family gatherings or auspicious occasions. The centerpiece of this is bajee (usually transliterated as baji), the flattened beaten rice that is mixed with all the exciting flavors and textures. The spicy pickles were so good that more had to be requested.

Vegetarian momos ($6.95, below) are usually just as good as their meaty friends, so of course a plate of these showed up.

And of course, when in Queens, it is best to have a restaurant dump soup on your momos as well, so make sure to get those jhol momos ($6.95, below).

Another plate not seen before by these eyes was a thali called the Nepali dhido ($11.95, below, usually dhindo), replacing the usual meat choice with a pounded millet flour. The lovely woman who took care of the table throughout the night said that this meal was eaten by people in the highest altitudes to give them the most energy.

The millet flour "dough" was chocolatey in color and fairly dense. Take pieces of it to roll a small ball for dipping in soup or dahl before eating.

Ordered a bit as more filler, the chili paneer ($7.95, below) was actually quite good. The table was surprised at how well the paneer had been made.

For the meat eaters, a few more interesting dishes dot the Nepali portion of the menu and should be considered, starting with goat sekuwa ($10.95, below). These boneless chunks of goat have been marinated then roasted over fire until very tough. It has a high heat level and is very delicious.

Typically in Nepal, choila (often chhwela) is a Newa dish eaten with buffalo meat. In Queens this type is not available so we compromised with beef. When told they were out of beef, chicken was the last resort and this chicken choila ($7.95, below) was unfortunately the least interesting plate that arrived.

If they do have beef (or add buffalo to the menu), try this one out.

The woman referred to hyakula ($11.95, below) as "lamb roast" and seemed happy that it was selected, but warned that it did take 20 minutes to prepare. These lamb ribs are served on the bone and exquisitely fatty. Squeeze a bit of lime if it is too much for you. It is the type of dish people look around the table at each other while chewing and nod.

The general feeling of everyone was very good after this meal. Spirits were high, and wallets were not much lighter. There is a lot of good Himalayan food around, but Kathmandu Fusion Kitchen is definitely worth putting up there in this conversation. It is also a bonus to try new dishes for those that want to put together a group and eat more than momos and thalis.


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