>> Sumnima Kitchen | Eat the World NYC

10 May 2019

Sumnima Kitchen


Some time ago, this location at the corner of 64th Street and 39th Avenue was home to a large Himalayan market, purveyor of so many delicious crispy spicy snacks that far too many visits were made to procure these calorie-laden treats. Eventually that business closed down and the space was split into two, a nondescript deli on the corner and a Halal Chinese-Indian restaurant that just had no glow and never really looked that great. Late last year, the addresses turned over another time and Sumnima Kitchen moved in, the division removed and spaces united once again.

On first glance, Sumnima checks all the boxes for a restaurant approved by the Nepali community of Queens. Everyone already knows each other and men sit around tables drinking large jugs of red wine or Budweiser tall boys they brought with them.

Chicken jhol momo ($6.95, above) are served in a shallow plate and puddle of soup (jhol), the classic dumplings arranged in a pinwheel. This particular style of eating Himalayan dumplings in broth is best known in Kathmandu but has completely overtaken the scene in Jackson Heights and Woodside. Don't feel guilty, there is a magic here.

But you cannot stop there, a Nepali would scoff at you for only eating snacks and not a real meal. While technically the back of the menu offers Japanese bento boxes and teriyaki, as well as a fairly long list of run-of-the-mill Indian food, keep it turned to the Nepali side and look for things like samaya bajee ($10.95, below).

This platter is built for festive occasions usually, also as part of Newari celebrations in Kathmandu. Available with chicken as well, the version seen here is completely vegetarian and made for alternating combinations of textures and flavors. The bright white beaten rice is crispy and wonderful when bitten into but wants to be joined by the sharper flavors of all the colorful items that surround it.

Closest in the photo below is aalu achar, potatoes cooked with mustard seed and fenugreek, which seemed to be the item disappearing fastest on this night. Pickles spiced similarly and known as just achar were quite good as well. Fritters and bodi ko achar (sensing a theme?) flank the beaten rice and provide other flavorful ways to combine everything.

A special section of the menu called "Sumnima's Special Platter" draws your attention, but unfortunately both dishes sampled from here were the ones that came closest to falling flat. The first of these was better, hyakula ($11.95, below), chunks of fatty lamb on the bone cooked to the point of charring. What excelled here was the wonderful marinade, which could have shined through if the taste of char had not been so prominent.

The pork rib roast ($12.95, below) had a high char level as well but was also almost unbearably fatty. Sometimes fat works and sometimes it does not, this was unfortunately the latter and beyond overkill.

When the order for chili paneer ($7.95, below) was put in, our server asked if we needed an order of naan ($1.50) to accompany it. Expecting something like the churu khatsu from Little Tibet or drier versions from Nepali restaurants, naan seemed unnecessary, but this dish was quite a bit different and definitely needed the bread upgrade.

This gravy was thick and sweet, slightly spicy, and full of chunks of cheese (paneer). Despite being on the front of the menu, it reminded me more of Punjabi dishes, but honestly no one was complaining as every last drop was mopped up from the bowl.

Welcome to the constantly expanding Himalayan food scene, Sumnima, it's a pleasure to have you. As the frontiers of Himalayan Heights expand further from the 74th Street Jackson Heights station, the cuisines seem ready to impress those it has not yet reached.

Sumnima Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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