72-20 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights, Queens
about $40 for two, with one beer, with tip
I was armed only with a Post-It when I dragged the Dr. to Queens to try out some Newari dishes in Jackson Heights. Ubin gave me some recommendations and I scribbled them on said Post-It. We walked in before the busy dinner time and had to adjust to how dark it was inside. There was only a small family sitting in the restaurant, so we felt it was odd to be seated at the long table in the middle of the room. While waiting for our food to come, we found out why: all the bigger tables were reserved for bigger groups. The waitress wasn’t kidding either. When we were finishing our meal, a band started to set up on the makeshift stage. All of a sudden, the restaurant was flooded by other Nepalis. In under ten minutes, almost every table was taken and the place filled with a language we couldn’t understand and with faces distinctly unique.
Ubin had given me a Nepalese recipe last year. Even though I spent several hours making chataamari at home, I still wanted to try and experience the other kinds of food he likes. Preferring that someone else cook them, I badgered him to send me to one the restaurants he frequents.
At the Himalayan Yak, we started with the gyuma, or the Tibetan beef sausages. They looked like blood sausages, but they snapped like crispy hotdogs. The waitress brought out four kinds of condiments, among them an avocado sauce and a very spicy dip the Dr. couldn’t stop eating even though it was “annihilating” his tongue. The chwela, a spicy Newari pork dish served cold, was boney but addicting. You put the knob of bone in your mouth and try to take apart the meat with your tongue, all while absorbing the peppery sauce. My favorite was the sukuti: Nepalese, jerky and perfect with a cold bottle of Taj Mahal. If I was eating it in Nepal, it would be prepared with buffalo meat. The spicy chicken was dry and hard to chew. It was the only thing we didn’t finish. The popular momo, or steamed dumplings, were stuffed with cabbage and helped alleviate the spicyness of the other dishes. I tried to order rice. Well, I ordered “whatever you guys eat with all of this” and was served the tingmo, or steamed white buns. They looked like a wimpy, used towel on my plate. It was too bad that our dishes didn’t have enough sauce because they would have soaked up any leftover juice from our plates.
For my first restaurant experience with Tibetan and Newari dishes, Himalayan Yak was a good introduction. We walked out as soon as the band finished tuning their instruments. We almost regretted going too early and missing out on the real party.
Nepalese chataamari recipe