There’s more to Gorkha Palace than momos.
Don’t get us wrong, Gorkha Palace’s momos are delicious.* The juicy Nepali dumplings were owner Rashmi Bhattachan’s claim to fame long before she opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant — back when she started offering the dumplings and a few curries or soups at her “Curry Lane” food stand at the Mill City Farmers Market. And while we’d recommend starting your meal off strong with an order of momos (below), your meal doesn’t have to peak there.
Unless you work in Northeast and can make it to Gorkha’s lunch buffet ($11, 11am-2pm Monday through Friday), get the spicy Newari lamb ($17, below). Served bento box-style, it’s comprised of many sides that are also available a la carte or in the lunch buffet. Though the individual components each have merit, this isn’t an opportunity to employ your inner five-year-old’s rules of keeping your food from touching — in this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The lamb itself — heavily encrusted with a spicy paste of crushed red chili, garlic, and ginger — is cooked in a tandoor to inconsistent effect, with some nicely balanced bites and others overwhelmed by their too-charred exterior. Add some basmati rice, a bit of dal, and aaloo achaar to your fork to downplay the excess char; the aaloo achaar, a Nepali potato salad, has a nice tahini-driven creaminess and lemony zip that doesn’t evoke unsavory images of Miracle Whip-laden potatoes steaming in the sun. Bhatmaas, a citrus-dressed, spicy soynut salad, alone feels like a reasonably healthy, protein-laden option to refuel after a grueling workout, but mixed with the lamb and rice, it adds some welcome crunch and extra spice to the mix. A little drizzle of raita (a relatively liquid tzatziki analog) atop the entire thing can provide a tangy counterpoint to cool the heat from the lamb and soynuts.
If you find the saying “variety is the spice of life” antithetical to what you want from a meal, Gorkha Palace does offer a pretty solid rendition of Chicken Tikka Masala ($15), and its tomato yogurt sauce is nicely balanced without offering anything out of the ordinary. The comforting Chicken Thenthuk ($12) offers “house-made Tibetan pulled noodles.” They’re thin and relatively uniform, yet rustic in a way reminiscent of that one time you tried to make homemade noodles without a pasta machine (because we’ve all tried it at some point or another!). A mild broth and basic veggies — soybeans, spinach, tomatoes, chicken — make it a go-to for winter maladies.
No matter what you order, the mango lassi ($3.50) is a must. Arguably the best in town, the drink eschews the too-sweet, ambiguous flavor of many lassis and instead conveys the brightness and tang of fresh mango. An added dash of cardamom helps the lassi to pair well with the spicing of the entrees… this isn’t just a dessert drink!
Given its thriving lunch buffet and strong entree options, Gorkha Palace proves it can do more than the momos that initially sparked a fan base.
*On a recent visit, we thought them to be seasoned Goldilocks-style: the veggie version a bit too gingery, the yak just a tad bland, and the turkey option just right.
Nepali / Indian / Tibetan in Northeast Minneapolis
23 4th St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
OWNER / CHEF: Rashmi Bhattachan / Sarala Kattel
Mon-Thu 11am-2pm; 5pm-9pm
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: Yes / No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Yes
ENTREE RANGE: $12-17