Trying new foods is one of life’s pleasures, A place that makes it good and with pride completes this equation.
All of us who consider ourselves to be foodies and many of the rest of those dining out regularly have a list of restaurants that they keep in their mind as ones always to return to. These places can often be what may be referred to as “Hidden Gems” and although they do well the clientele are often locals from the neighbourhood or people for whom the food being served is what they might eat in their country of birth, of course there are also those who have like us had the good fortune to find these places in one way or another.
No matter the reason, these stores generally do a good business and of course they deserve to. We’ve been to a number of this type of place and the feeling of welcome and community they provide in addition to great food makes returning a given. Sometimes however one comes across a place that has the friendly, warm, welcoming staff and ownership as well as the great food but due to location or perhaps being in a neighbourhood where the food they serve is too far outside of the norm they don’t have the traffic they truly deserve. We recently came across a place in this situation and cannot for the life of us understand why, other than location they aren’t busy every night of the week.
The restaurant in question is called Everest Kitchen and being the only Nepali restaurant in the Calgary area we thought for sure they’d attract the foodie crowd for the same initial reason we wanted to visit, they’re cuisine is unique. However it seems that where they are is a major hindrance to their business and unlike stores such as Jonas or Imaan who have a base of expats returning over and over to have food that reminds them of home the Nepalese community in Calgary is virtually nonexistent.
They are located in a tiny strip mall just one block south of eastbound Beddington Trail on Beddington Bvld NE and having moved to the current location only a year or so ago seems to have made it difficult to attract the people who should definitely be visiting on a regular basis. As I said above it may be that coupled with the move to an out of the way location they are also in a neighbourhood where the local populace is happy to just eat pizza and westernised Chinese food rather than venture outside their culinary comfort zone.
According to the owner much of their customers are in fact those who frequented the previous location on 17th ave. It lets us know just how good they are when some customers will drive across town to continue to enjoy the food, and when this group includes well-known food critic, John Gilchrist, it speaks volumes about the place. But this is not enough to keep them going forever. While repeats are great and word of mouth should bring new customers enmasse when the food is as good as they serve there they are not close to the vast majority of the people who should be their core clientele and it seems they suffer as a result.
This really is a shame not only because losing such a store would diminish the dining scene in town but also because a small business that provides a good service and high quality deserves to do well.
We’d driven by Everest Kitchen a number of times and on every one of those occasions I’d comment on how we needed to visit and try the food. This desire to check them out was reinforced by the fact that we’d tried Nepali food before and found that we’d really enjoyed the flavours and unique dishes. After several months we finally decided we’d waited long enough.
Entering the store we were greeted warmly by both he hostess and a man we discovered later was the owner. This is a clean and well kept restaurant that although small and not highly decorated is inviting and pleasant.
After being seated we looked over the menu and our server gave us some ideas as to what we should try from the selection of items we were considering. In the end we decided to order some meat momos to begin with and three other items.
Momos are a Nepali version of a dumpling and are the street food of choice in Kathmandu. They are similar to their Asian counterparts but have a unique flavour and these ones are served with a delicious sauce. The ones we ordered were made with lamb and I found them quite tasty if just a little dangerous when not eaten with care, something evidenced by the mess I made when eating the first one. I was more careful after this explosive experience and apologised to the server…nuf said.
We ordered three mains from the menu. The Chef’s special cauliflower, a veggie dish with an incredible creamy light tomato sauce with cashew nut that had we ordered some of the fresh flat bread we’d have not left any behind. The second dish was the chicken chatpat which was in a very nice hot & sour sauce that was not at all what we’d expected having thought it might be similar to a Chinese version. Finally we had the Everest special biryani. While similar in some ways to those one might find from other countries this Nepali biryani was flavoured much differently, the tastes and textures of the different meats combined with cashews and raisins was wonderful and even more so when the sauce that came separately was mixed in.
Each of the dishes we had was unique and we loved the different combinations of spices. All were served in attractive metal bowls reminiscent of those one may find at some Indian restaurants. You know the ones, they don’t look big but for some reason when you’ve all had a good amount from them there is strangely still some food left in inside.
Nepali cusine has a number of different influences that in the food at Everest Kitchen was sometimes subtle and on other occasions more obvious, such as in the offering of samosas and use of basmati rice. These can include Indian, Asian, and Arabic tastes, but they are combined in ways that make them very different from those more well known flavours.
We very much enjoyed the food served at Everest Kitchen and found that the quality was very high and the freshness of the ingredients was apparent to me from the first bite. The price was reasonable and we were quite satisfied upon finishing our meal.
The staff was excellent and we were never left wanting anything whether it be a top up of water or an empty serving bowl cleared away. we also very much enjoyed speaking with the owner who told us about Nepalese food and described for us the different spices(many of which are visible in a long row of jars near the front of the store).
Everest Kitchen is without a doubt the type of restaurant that should do well and having enjoyed the experience of dining there we are sure to return and hope that you give them a try, they are just what Calgary needs.
We recently returned to Everest Kitchen as part of our monthly foodie nights with folks from UrbanSpoon. We found that the owner had indeed brought in some Yak meat as he’d mentioned on our last visit and we just had to try it.
Two of us ordered the Yak steak and we both agreed that having not tried it before we would have the server tell the cook to prepare it the way he would like it. This as it turned out may have been a mistake as the cook seems to prefer his meat very well-done and we received just his type of steak.
While the Yak was somewhat disappointing(although this is likely our fault) the rest of the food and the service was just as good as the previous time we’d visited.
Another thing we noticed was that the place was busier than it had been on our first visit, while both were on week-end nights we had been the only diners the first time round. I’m glad to see the word is spreading about Everest Kitchen and hope they are around for some time. RR