Gurkha Palace is a recommendation of my senior who was also the first to bring me there. Having absolutely no impression of Nepalese food, I came to know about Momos, which are meat or veggie steamed dumplings that look uncannily similar to siao long bao and come with an accompanying tomato sauce. Having a brief look through the menu, the dishes look pretty similar to eating at an Indian restaurant which the quintessential vegetarian Aloo-type items, Paneer (kind of Indian cubed cottage cheese), and Palak (spinach) on their vegetable menu.
My senior told me that its customers mostly come from the evening crowd, which makes this air-conditioned place quiet and suitable for conversation – there were only 2 or 3 tables filled when I was last there!
What I like about this place is the papadums that come immediately after you find a place to sit. They came with (what I think was) a creamy mint yogurt sauce that tasted really intense and flavorful from fresh garlic. I would love to do a vegan version of that with cashew cream for homemade chips/corn chips or baked sweet potatos.We had to have the Vegetable Momos since that’s kind of like the signature Nepalese dish. They were beautifully wrapped though some of them did have the torn skins. Good thing though that the fillings are not wet. The tomato sauce was like a fresh salsa which I think consists of fresh tomatos, red chilli and garlic (maybe onion too). Though I liked dipping my momos into the sauce, the filling (of predominantly cabbage) was terribly peppery this time which really overpowered the taste of its fresh vegetables and made this dish overly heating. I recommend eating these fresh because the longer they sit, the tougher and more rubbery the skins get.
Among the two of us, we order a Mixed Vegetable Tarkari and Tandoori Roti to share. Both were an absolutely delight to have.
First, the rotis were soft yet crisp and flaky on the surface and had a wonderful fresh-baked aroma of simple flat bread doughs. They were also pliable and chewy which was really nice. Poorly made flat breads would turn out tough and hard instead, but these were perfectly made.
I’ve never even heard of Tarkari before but this was pretty similar to Indian stews like the tikka masala or korma in that it has a really thick, spiced gravy that is more-ish and intense from tomatos and onions. It came with mostly mixed veggies (corn, carrot and peas), green beans and a few florets of cauliflower. Its absolutely the thing to have with the roti as you can mop up every last drop of gravy! I really couldn’t analyse the taste of this because the flavors were so well balanced, with the spices not being overpowering and blending in the right balance with the fresh ingredients to produce an overall taste that can only be described as ‘really really good’. Though we suspect the wonderful sweetness comes from using a lot of onions in this. Generally rib-sticking delicious.
Now for the not so good part of our experience. We sat at a lone table right next to the glass windowed front (on the right if you face the front of the restaurant) and to our absolutely disgust, baby cockroaches made appearances now and then running across our table and even onto the chairs. The first time we called one of the staff who helped get rid of it, but the second time another one appeared when she was busy and my friend took it upon herself to flick it off the table. Cockroaches are never a welcoming sign for any restaurant and it even made me shudder to imagine what state the kitchen might look like. I don’t want to make any guesses as to their sanitation standards, though the other guests who were there didn’t seem to have the same problem so it might’ve been the spot where our table was. Don’t sit at the lone table on the right and perhaps you won’t have to deal with cockroaches!
All in all, I thought this place was a pretty decent hangout. The food will satisfy though I’m not sure if there is anything very characteristic about their food that distinguishes them from Indian cuisine. We paid a total of $10/person which is definitely a reasonable price (and we were really full). Some other interesting menu items to try if you have the space are their Himalayan and Nepalese teas which I’m sure you won’t find just anywhere. Their menu which has quite a variety of non-meat and meat dishes alike also probably makes this a good place for mixed groups.