By Donn Swaby




If you have a taste for something truly different I strongly recommend you go to Tibet Nepal House in Pasadena, Southern California’s only restaurant serving authentic Himalayan cuisine. 
Manager Bikram Ghale states that, “many people don’t know where Nepal and Tibet are. So when they are introduced to the food, they become curious about the culture.” He adds, “People from as far away as Pachanga come here. We also have many regular customers.”
Established in 2001 by chef and owner Karma Tenzing Bhotia, a Nepali of Tibetan descent, the restaurant has a quiet and peaceful setting and upon entering a large Buddha head/water fountain greets you to your left. Other wooden and stone statues of various sizes are placed throughout the room on tables, shelves, and hanging on walls alongside Buddha-themed tapestries and several paintings depicting mountaineers trekking through the Himalayas with their cargo-carrying yaks. Paper cut outs of Giant Yetti feet (think Big Foot) hang on white rafter beams above. Given out to customers on holidays, they are inscribed with handmade artwork and messages of peace, love, and happiness. Finally, a row of prayer flags, each with a different prayer of protection on each differently colored flag, traditionally found in Tibetan homes and temples, lines the central beam overhead.
The menu is actually split into two parts: dishes from Nepal, where more spices are used along with corn, rice, winter radish, mustard, eggplant, pumpkin, ochre, cucumber, cauliflower, spinach, onion, and bell pepper, and dishes from Tibet, where fewer crops grow due to the higher altitudes, and fewer spices are used. There is also a pre-fix buffet served daily and changed every week.
 I recommend you start off with an appetizer plate of either mo-mo dumplings,  a most popular Nepali dish of steamed flour dough wrapping stuffed with meat or vegetables and served with achaar, a dipping sauce, or phaley, another popular native food, which are chicken or lamb filled and fried patties marinated with Himalayan herbs and spices. Then you can move onto Daal-Bhaat (lentils and rice,) a staple in the traditional Nepali diet. 
Of course the thing that will jump out to most first time culinary adventurers are the yak meat dishes. The Yak is the animal the local people in Nepal and Tibet depend on for milk, cheese, butter, meat, and transporting materials through the mountains. Low in fat, mildly flavored, and tender, yak meat is used in dishes such as Annapurna yak, sautéed with green chili, bell pepper, onions, tomatoes, and spices.
On the Tibet side of the menu, you can try Tse Thukpa a thick and hearty soup with mixed vegetable, house-made pasta , and fresh herbs and spices, or thick and creamy Sherpa stew with rice, potatoes, vegetables, spices, and either chicken or goat meat. Next, try the Goondruk, a radish or mustard green leaf that is first put into a soil pot and left in the ground for one week until it becomes soft and juicy, then prepared with cabbage, tomatoes, and spices.   
Other dishes on the menu include Bheda khasi (lamb,) Laangsha (beef), Bhuteko Bhaat (fried rice), and Macha (fish.) Native beverages like Himalayan Mashala Tea made with herbs and simmered in milk, and Sho Jhaa, a typical Tibetan butter tea, are the perfect accompaniment to any meal. And don’t forget to save room for Kheer, a house-made rice pudding with almonds, walnuts, and raisins, to conclude a journey of the taste buds that you may look forward to repeating.


Tibet Nepal House
36 East. Holly St.
Pasadena, CA 91103
Tel: 626-585-0955

Tue.- Fri.: All you can eat buffet from 11:30 A.M. - 2:30 P.M.
Sat. and Sun.: Champagne brunch from 11:30 A.M. - 2:30 P.M.
Dinner: 5 P.M. - 10:00 P.M.
Closed on Monday.



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© Melt Magazine 2007