On both of my trips to Tibet Nepal House it had taken more than an hour and a half to receive my food, despite the fact it had not been crowded either time, and on one of the occasions there was only one other table occupied in the restaurant. (Both times, however, I must admit that the food was delicious when it finally arrived.) My brother assured me that these days he visits the place at least twice a month and he has never had a problem.
We all met there in the evening. My brother's birthday isn't actually for another week, but he's going to New York City for the release party for a book in which a chapter is about him. So we decided to go out to dinner a few days early. We sat under Tibetan Prayer Flags and paper silhouettes of feet with hand-written messages. The smell of the place was amazing, and I turned my attention to the menu.
The menu is slightly incongruous with your typical American restaurant (this is not a complaint) but it's not too hard to figure out. Elizabeth and I decided to get a couple entrees to share.
My dad ordered a Tibetan butter teapot. My brother took a sip of it and made a face I have only seen him make once in his life: when he tried a disgusting pile of Chinese noodles in Northern Ireland, the single least appetizing dish I have ever seen.
"That's terrible," he said, simultaneously looking as if he might laugh or puke. My mom tried the tea next and made the same face.
"I'm not exaggerating," she said, "that is the worst thing I have ever tasted."
So I had to try it next. Expecting the worst, it was not that bad, but the butter tea had a harsh, pasty flavor to it that was not pleasant. Have you ever used a bamboo steamer in a wok and noticed the slightly-foamy water than gathers near the base? I've often wondered what it would taste like; I imagine exactly like this.
Someone ordered sabjee pakoda - deep fried veggies battered with chickpea flour and spices. These were excellent and I helped myself to two of them. I wished we'd had two orders of these instead of the cheese.
My brother got a big bowl of soup. I did not try any but he ate all the meat and veggies, leaving only a fair amount of the broth behind.
I accept responsibility for this. It's not like I ordered chicken and pointed at the steak on the menu at Denny's. I imagine in a restaurant like this a lot of people simply point at the menu when ordering as opposed to trying to pronounce the items.
And besides, we both like salmon. Not only that, this was still delicious. (Of course, after trying the shrimp off my mom's plate, I could only imagine how nice this curry would have tasted over shrimp. Oh well.) The salmon was cooked perfectly and the curry sauce was some of the best I have ever had.
I drizzled some of the spicy sauce over it. It was delicious: juicy, not at all gamey, it reminded me of a great juicy dumpling at a dim sum restaurant, that smooth taste where you can't place all the flavors, you just know they are delicious.
This trip to Tibet Nepal House was much, much better than my previous two. The food was very good - although other than the shrimp I would not go so far as to call it great - and the service was much better. We were in and out in under 90 minutes, meaning, amongst other things, that the parking was free.
I did not plan on ever returning to Tibet Nepal House - as evidenced by the fact that my last two meals there were more than seven years ago and I have gone out to dinner hundreds of times in Old Town since then - but after this meal I have to say I would be glad to return any time someone else wants to. It may not be until my brother's birthday dinner next year, but I promise I won't try to convince him to go to Hooter's or Taco Bell like I did this year.