LAKE FOREST PARK — The quest to highlight favorite neighborhood restaurants isn’t always glamorous. Yes, sometimes it’s blissfully eating bean tostadas in the rare September sunshine or clinking a calamansi-mimosa cheers with a friend. But other times it looks like two moms wrestling their kids and deep sighing because they just wanted to enjoy some dumplings.
The scene was at Everest Kitchen in Lake Forest Park. One of you lovely readers sent me an email saying it was worth a visit. My message to a friend who lives in the area to ask if she had ever been resulted in a near immediate response: “soooooooo good!!!” and informing that a Nepalese friend claims it’s the closest thing he’s had to a taste of home in the Seattle area. I was sold.
This friend has a son near in age to my 16-month-old daughter, so we made our party a foursome.
Everest Kitchen is a part of the Town Center; an unassuming storefront at the end of the strip mall on the north side of the massive Third Place Books. If the late Jonathan Gold — and more recently, Tan Vinh — has taught us anything, it’s to never underestimate a strip-mall restaurant. (I reached out to the owners to learn more about this unique spot, but unfortunately they’re on an annual trip to Nepal and won’t be back until the end of October.)
Everest specializes in dishes from India, Tibet and Nepal, serving a lunch buffet every day from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and a full menu at lunch and dinner. Although the lunch buffet looked tempting — various curries and rice alongside a cold bar with raita, green salad and condiments — it was mostly Indian cuisine and I had my heart set on momos, so we requested the menu.
Momos are a steamed dumpling popular across Southern Asia, especially in Nepal and the region of Tibet. They can be stuffed with meat or vegetables and are usually served with a rich, spiced tomato-based sauce called achar.
We ordered the vegetable momos, plump with a filling of finely diced cabbage, spinach, onion, cashews and paneer ($9.95). Everest Kitchen also offers a chicken momo and a spicy chili version of each, spiked with jalapeño. The rest of the menu is what we might think of as “classic” Indian cuisine: samosa and pakora starters, aloo gobi and chana masala under an extensive list of vegetable curries, tandoori chicken and lamb kabob. But there’s also the traditional vegan Nepali soup qwati, with nine different kinds of beans; barbecued lamb or chicken skewers called Sekuwa, fragrant with herbs and baked in a clay oven; and daal bhaat.
Daal bhaat (also spelled dal bhat) is a traditional meal in Nepal and Tibet that consists of steamed rice and lentil dal. It’s accompanied by a curry (your choice: with or without meat), a spicy pickled vegetable, and greens. It’s usually served on a large tray, with dishes separated from each other. The daal bhaat at Everest Kitchen also comes with lentil soup, rice pudding and your choice of either chicken ($14.95), goat ($15.95) or vegetable curry ($13.95).
I thought we had ordered the bone-in goat, but somewhere between trying to keep two toddlers satiated with everything from freeze-dried mango to cheddar bunnies and getting them to not destroy the restaurant, we were served the vegetable daal bhaat. It’s a testament to the vegetables at Everest Kitchen that neither one of us even noticed until hours later.
We also ordered chicken tikka masala ($14.95) and a side of plain naan bread ($2.95).
Pro mom tip: If you find yourself at Everest Kitchen with an impatient toddler (aren’t they all?), resist ordering off the menu — or perhaps just add on an order of the momos — and go for the lunch buffet. Food like this takes a little while, and while it’s well worth the wait, it’s hard to tell a little kid that.
If you’ve got time, or perhaps things are quicker during dinner service, please order from the menu. The vegetable momos are little flavor bombs in a wonderfully chewy dough wrapper, and the tomato achar is worth eating by the spoonful.
Often times tikka masala skews sweet, but at Everest Kitchen it is richly savory, with tender hunks of chicken and a side of fragrant, steamed basmati rice. The daal bhaat arrived on a large metal cafeteria-style tray, overflowing with sautéed mustard greens (delightfully bitter), spicy pickled carrots, a lentil soup thick with spices and beans, a somewhat bland rice pudding and the aforementioned vegetable curry.
There was enough food to warrant a to-go box and I happily packed up the remaining momo, curry and rice.
It was even better the next day when I ate it standing up in my kitchen, patchily hot from a zap in the microwave while my kid was napping. Maybe it was the silence? Either way, I’m ready for more momo and tikka masala.
11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily; 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Suite #A-016, Lake Forest Park; 206-440-0321, theeverestkitchen.com