Himalayan Restaurant in Seward

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

What the devil are fajitas doing in a Nepalese restaurant? Ample cilantro, onions, charred chicken, tomatoes — sure, the oven’s a tandoor and the tortilla is a big piece of naan, but it’s downright eerie how much Himalayan Restaurant’s chicken choyala ($11.95) resembles a Tex-Mex favorite, even though it’s a case of evolutionary convergence. It’s also downright delectable — the spices are applied in a moist rub that almost recalls Southern BBQ, and the overall impact is simultaneously comforting and stimulatingly new. Portions are generous; one order serves two moderate eaters.

With very little fuss and a relaxed ambiance, the year-old Himalayan is serving up some highly stimulating ethnic eats to a neighborhood crowd — this kind of vegetarian/vegan friendly grub seems like a good match for Seward, which boasts a strong contingent of gastronomically and politically progressive folks.

Himalayan dodges the problem that dogs many Tibetan/Nepalese places — namely, the tendency to serve what tastes like wan retreads of Mughal Indian favorites, minus the lush, deeply spiced sauces that make them so irresistible. Although Himalayan’s cuisine is light on its feet, it feels fresh and distinct, offering some flavor combinations and ingredients (yak dumplings, anybody?) that will surprise all but the most cosmopolitan of palates.

Kataar Aaloo is a dish comprised of jack-fruit buds cooked with potatoes and spices. Never had a jack-fruit bud? It’s well worth the effort — in Himalayan’s capable hands, it comes off as a happy marriage between artichoke hearts, tofu, and bamboo shoots, tender and yielding and light.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Even the more conventional dishes (from an Indian/Chinese buffet standpoint) have surprises to offer. Momo — dumplings — are elegant and dextrous, blessed with a hit of orange and herbal lightness that helps them transcend their often leaden genre. Likewise, the restaurant’s version of chicken tikka masala is different enough from the norm to stand out. Notes of yogurt and fruit dominate, as opposed to cream and tomatoes; this is a chicken tikka masala that chats conversationally as opposed to singing opera.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Himalayan does a daily lunch buffet for $7.75, and while it’s not a bad introduction to what the restaurant has to offer, it suffers the typical shortcomings of its ilk — the food tends to sit, and you miss some of the exotic nooks and crannies of what is a truly thoughtful and creative menu.

Friendly, pretense-free service completes this picture of neighborhood dining at its finest: the Himalayan Restaurant offers locals the opportunity to walk around the block, eat dinner in Nepal, and really enjoy the people they interact with while they’re doing it.

Himalayan Restaurant

★★★☆ (Excellent)

Nepalese in Seward
2401 E Franklin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55406
612.332.0880
OWNER/CHEF: Naveen Shrestha/Sarala Kattel
HOURS:
Tue-Sun 11am-9:30pm (buffet from 11am-2pm)
Mon CLOSED
BAR: Bar + Wine
RESERVATIONS/RECOMMENDED: No
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN: Yes/Yes
AVERAGE ENTREE: $11

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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13 Comments

  1. I haven’t been but it sounds like I’ll have to make the trek over to Seward again one of these days. When I lived in Prospect park a few years back there was a great Argentinian restaurant in the space, El Gaucho. Prior to that it was a hole in the wall breakfast place.

    Hopefully these owners will see more success than the previous tenants.

  2. I love this place and I’m glad that it’s getting some recognition! They have a sister restaurant–the Highland Cafe, on Ford Parkway–that has mostly a standard diner/cafe menu and a much more limited Nepalese menu with the momos, kothe, samosas, and a couple curries. Worth checking out if Seward’s not close.

  3. Ooh, I keep forgetting about the Himalayan. I need to get back there soon. I tend to go to Everest on Grand instead because it’s closer to home, though I do spend a fair amount of time in the Seward neighborhood.

  4. I love the Himalayan Cafe! The staff is very friendly and genuinely happy you are there to enjoy there food. I cant get enough of their palak paneer, its the best i have ever had. Its my favorite place to sit down and enjoy a meal with my boyfriend, and i cant leave without the delicious house made rasmali.

  5. Himalayan is the latest best thing to happen in Seward. The reviewed didn’t even mention the kwati — a lovely, bean-filled vegan soup, just right with naan on a cool day. I crave it.
    Himalayan may be unpretentious, but the wait staff is always gracious, and it is nice to be able to order a nice glass of wine with dinner too.

  6. I LOVE the Himalayan! If you do too, join the Facebook group “Fans of Himalayan Restaurant in Minneapolis” at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=52860864017&ref=ts.

  7. DELICIOUS!

  8. not very good but ok.

  9. I have been to this place twice. I love it ! It is worth a trial. I am sure when you try it, you will go back. Great place !

  10. Liz McCambridge08/11/2010Reply

    My husband and I ust had the most wonderful meal at the Himalayan Restaurant on Franklin Ave. The BEST Palak Paneer in the world. Delicious garlic naan, meat momos, Chicken Choyala. And the BEST server that we’ve had in years. Check it out.

  11. Dev Ghosh10/19/2010Reply

    Pretty nice food. We went there when all the nearby restaurants were closed after the lunch hours. I tried goat meat. It tastes close to Indian goat curry. The service was very friendly. I will give 5/5

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  2. [...] unassuming Nepalese restaurant in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, Himalayan has become a go-to lunch spot because of its excellent buffet ($8.75), which always includes a mix [...]

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