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Everest on Grand
Kale G: We here at Dining With Plastic Forks have made the pilgrimage, journeyed forth, climbed the mountain, and been to the top of Everest.
Everest on Grand, that is.
Everest on Grand is a Nepali/Tibetan joint in St. Paul, shockingly on Grand Avenue. We were intrigued when we heard the cuisine, and even more so when we heard that they had yak on the menu. Yes, yak.
Phil B: Boy, that cow needs a haircut!
KG: Doesn’t look too appetizing, does he? Still, neither Phil nor myself had ever had the pleasure (or pain) of sampling a yak, and so the course was set. To Everest!
PB: Why did we go? Because it was there. (Sorry, Sir Edmund)
KG: After a quick drive we arrived at the little corner restaurant, just after opening. Only one couple was already in the diner when we entered, and they were working their way through the buffet. We got seated, and when they asked if we wanted drink, Phil stuck with water and I got a pot of Kaalo Chiya.
PB: We didn’t really look at the buffet, since we already knew what we were going to try. Maybe next time. I usually just order water every time I eat out, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on the tea.
KG: Kaalo Chiya is a first-flush tea that is a little like a Darjeeling, but it’s brewed with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. These give it a zingy, almost sweet flavor that was wonderful, warming you up when you came in from the cold. Normally we don’t comment much on the drinks, but this was one fine tea.
PB: Kale was gracious enough to let me have a taste of the tea. Wow. Maybe I was depriving myself of a fine beverage experience.
KG: Orders were placed, and soon enough we were greeted with the reason for our trek, the yak Momo!
PB: Question… do yaks go ‘Moo Moo’, or do they go ‘Mo Mo’?
KG: There was a moment of trepidation – then dunk into the sauce (a blend of cilantro, tomato and other spices…) and then it was the point of no return.
Yak is… well, it’s sorta… it’s kind of like… Phil, in a word?
KG: And it is awesome. The sauce is spicy, and the filling savory, oh so savory.
PB: A fantastic mix of flavors, doing a tango on your tastebuds. Oh, Momo, could this really be the end? (sorry, Bob)
KG: There was a mix of yak, green onion, and some other spices in each dumpling. Before heading out we did our research on the humble yak, and according to one supplier it is like, quote, “sweet beef”. And that’s not a bad description, when you have no frame of reference, but it’s wrong. It’s a moist, delectable, rich meat that has a little sweetness to it, but notes of sweet, not a cloying or overpowering amount. We ordered the half-order, and I think we’re both in agreement that it was a mistake. Full order next time, no mistake.
PB: This appetizer exceeded ALL of our expectations. It was simply amazing!
KG: Entrees followed after, and expectations were high. Nepali culture had a wheat dough that is a staple in the food, and we got the wheat noodle dish hoping to catch some of that flavor. Soon, the Chicken Chau-Chau arrived.
KG: I must admit to some disappointment here. The noodles were stir-fried in chili oil, and as such they built up heat with a decent quickness, but seemed to have no flavor. Oh, the chicken was quite nice (we think they cooked it in a tandoori separately and then mixed it in), and the vegetables had good flavor and texture (like any good stir-fry), but the whole thing just didn’t gel for us. Maybe our palates just aren’t refined to the Nepali subtleties, but we were frankly bored by the Chau-Chau.
PB: Have you ever cooked a new recipe that looked really good on paper, but when you took a bite …
Meh. It’s missing something, but you can’t really decide what that ‘something’ is. The best way I can describe the flavor is: flat. Spicy hot, but still … flat. The one-dimensional kind.
KG: Still, they had some fun looking desserts, and so we decided to finish with Jerri. If you’ve never had Jerri, imagine a tiny piece of funnel cake, about the size of an onion ring, but instead of powdered sugar it had been soaked in a sugar syrup and then served. That’s pretty much Jerri.
KG: We got two pieces in a little bowl, and they were delightful. They’re very sweet, almost to the point of toothache, so we recommend splitting the dish with someone. One piece of Jerri is a wonderful dessert – two is probably just asking for diabetes.
PB: After that first bite of Jerri, I was really wishing for some of that tea to go with it. It just seems like a great match, like doughnuts & coffee. Started to regret my unfortunate choice of water as my lunch beverage.
KG: I think I may be succumbing to something my wife has given in to some time ago – we’ll just call it the Lauren syndrome. More and more I find that the appetizers in a restaurant are far better than any of the entrees could even pretend to be, and have begun to wonder if I should just start ordering all appetizers like she does at some places.
PB: Lauren may be on to something. I can already think of a handful of places where I like the appetizers & desserts better than anything else on their menu. Anyhow, I will try something else besides the Chau-Chau next time -- I give it 2 tines. The Jerri by itself gets 3 tines, but with the tea I would give it a little over 3.5 tines. The Momos get 4 tines way up – I am a convert to the yak-eaters fan club of America, however small it may be. Overall, I give Everest on Grand 3.14159 tines. Gotta go, I suddenly have an irresistible compulsion to get a slice of pie somewhere. (Sorry, Euclid)
KG: Still, Everest on Grand is a nice little place. Get the yak Momos, they’re four tines through the roof. As for the Chau-Chau, well, you won’t be horrified, but you probably will be disappointed – two and a half tine stuff at best. The Jerri is three and a half tines of goodness when dessert comes knocking, and washing it down with the Kaalo Chiya is just a good way to go. Overall, three and a half tines from me – though I will be going back for more yak. I have to try the yak curry next time!
See you next week, when hopefully Phil will have his own quips, rather than other people's! (Sorry, Phil)