Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tibetan Kitchen for Dinner

Tibetan Kitchen

I recall the first time I saw a Tibetan Kitchen (in Fortitude Valley), I was 16-17 years old, completely unworldly and couldn't believe how exotic that sounded. Even in 2014, Tibetan and Nepalese cuisine is hardly widespread. I have tried a few different restaurants offering this style of food and would describe the flavours as a cross between Indian and maybe Thai. Since Indian and Thai are two of the most popular styles of food in Australia, I'm surprised not more people are jumping onto Tibetan fare.

Recently, I found an online coupon to try three courses at the Tibetan Kitchen in West End. Marc and I actually ordered takeaway from them on one of the first nights we were living in our new place. It was a messy ordeal eating runny curry dishes with hardly any cutlery and no tables or chairs. We sat on milk crates and ate off beer cartons. Despite all that, the food left a good impression on me so I was looking forward to tasting it again in a nice, restaurant environment.

I had made a booking for Thursday night but it was fairly quiet when we got there. A few more tables filled up as we were eating though. Our coupon entitled us to a mixed entree platter, sherpa bread, two mains of our choice and two desserts of our choice. We were also given some chai tea.

Mixed entrees - momos, spring rolls, pakhoras, aloo chop and tandoori chicken wings

The mixed entree platter was a feast to look at on its own. There were a couple of generic fried items and (I was happy to see) a good selection of dips. Marc and I didn't love the filling in the spring roll but the rest of the offerings were good. I tried to hold off to save room for the rest of the food.

Sherpa bread - flat bread topped with tomato chutney, cheese and herbs

The sherpa bread arrived next. Marc exclaimed that it was like pizza bread and when I bit into my piece, I saw what he meant. The bread has an elasticity not unlike deep pan pizza base and there's a tomato sauce with cheese. I was brought to mind those pizza pockets you can get from the supermarket. Pretty good but I'm not sure how authentically Tibetan this was (or any of these dishes for that matter).

Himalayan meatballs - fried meatballs prepared with ginger and spring onions; served with spicy mashed potatoes in a creamy sauce

For our mains, I chose the sherpa stew and Marc selected the meatballs. I was hesitant on choosing meatballs to begin with because I thought we already got that last time when we ordered takeaway. When the dishes arrived, I realised I hadn't actually tasted this dish before. There was a surprisingly high pile of meatballs on the plate. The flavour was great and they were very tender. I don't normally like rice but I scoffed it down with the sauce.

Shakpa (traditional sherpa stew) - a stew of lamb, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach and dumplings, topped with fresh coriander 

The sherpa stew was equally moreish. The sauce had a lovely, homely flavour and the meat pieces were cooked so nice and tender. The only criticism I have for this dish is that there wasn't enough of it!

Garlic dhaal

I admit that on this particular occasion, Marc and I were so full by the end of the meal we were almost in pain... but I imagine if I just ordered sherpa stew and rice I would have been disappointed by the quantity. I'm only saying that because it was so damn delicious.We were also given a plate of dhaal to soak the rice. I love this style of food where all the sauces and flavours smoosh together and create more awesomeness.

Tibetan mithai

We ended on a sweet note and I was happy that rather than being condemned to the same dessert, we could pick as we pleased from the menu. Marc and I both wanted the sticky date pudding but I went out on a limb and got the mithai. I'm so glad I did! It was absolutely delicious. I would describe the texture as a mix between fairy floss and fudge. It was really rich and sweet with a nutty element but also light and airy. It was unlike anything I've had before. The mithai went really well with the thin custard that it was swimming in. Heavenly. I need to spread the word about this stuff.

Sticky date pudding - with vanilla ice-cream and custard

The sticky date pudding was also good but I was too impressed with the mithai to take much notice of it. I think the serving size was good; not too monstrous and overbearing. It came with the same light custard that my dessert had.

Chai tea

I drank my (and Marc's) chai tea throughout this meal. I was pleased to see it was a sweetened chai latte rather than simply spicy hot tea. It was really yummy actually but for this meal, it was just a bit too much. Chai latte is a bit of a dessert on its own when you come to think about it.

I thought the mains and dessert at Tibetan Kitchen were great. I enjoyed both the himalyan meatballs and sherpa stew immensely. Needless to say, the mithai also left a great impression on me. I've mentioned above that the authenticity of these dishes can only be taken with a grain of salt but I'm not one to complain given that these versions taste so good.
Tibetan Kitchen West End on Urbanspoon

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