Very cheap eats: Next stop, comfort food

Himalayan Sherpa Nepalese Curry

340 Bridge Road Richmond Vic 3121

As far as cheap eats go, there’s no short supply of Indian or Chinese offerings dedicated to the hungry students who so prowl around for that homesick hit. Supply demand, they say. And in the rush-rush of it all it’s easy to overlook the tiny country of Nepal, which gets all the altitudinal attention and little to its cuisine.Which brings us to Himalayan Sherpa Nepalese Curry – a tidy place nestled amongst much larger restaurants but easily punching well above its featherweight status. What with its woody interior replete with soft lighting set behind ancient theatre masks and various clusters of paraphernalia, the easygoing mood is palpable.

The moment you step in, smiles break out from staff, followed by menus with a reasonable variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, set out clearly on handmade paper that still circulates in present day stationery used in Nepal. Service is attentive for the few waiters available, whom must work very hard to stay trim just to slither in between seated patrons on such a full and boisterous night such as ours. Yet the room does not echo with clattering cutlery and which is a big plus dhanyabad very much.

Entrees boast a blend of traditional tidbits like momos (dumplings filled with chicken or vegetable fillings – $6.90) and pakoda (spinach based vegetable fritters – $5.90) amongst the more familiar samosa and calaramari rings there for those who incline towards the familiar. Eggplant Ra Aloo and Goat Curry
But for those who like a mellower start, try the eggplant ra aloo ($12.90): lightly spiced slippery batons of potatoes and eggplant slowly cooked till a buttery texture albeit a little oily. Otherwise, the goat curry ($14.50), redolent of fiery ground ginger, cumin, curry leaf and cardamom is more an Indian head waggle than a gentle nod to tradition. This is best enjoyed with a round (or three) or roti, of which there are plain and stuffed versions ($2.80-$4.90).Citrus wise there is sarbat ($2.50), an unsweetened lemon squash made on home turf, and plenty is needed if you want to cut through the richness in between each fine morsel. Served continental style is their masala chai ($3.50), a rather flat dilution that despite a longstanding brew, needs much more oomph from its prerequisite spices.Sickly sweet but devishly addictive is the pistachio kulfi ($5.50), a hard mound of Indian ice cream flecked with crushed pistachios. It is smooth and lingers well with light buttery notes, making it taste like a variant of cookies and cream. But it needs more pistachio. Other fiendishly sweet friends include kheer (saffron rice pudding) and gulab jamun (fried cottage cheese balls in syrup) similarly priced, but if we had them altogether we would need a jab on insulin on the way out!

Takeway is available at 10% off eat-in prices, but the relaxed ambience is well worth to book in. After all, what’s the rush?