First Tastes: Nepali Kitchen in Northeast Portland

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Despite its failings, there are some gems on Nextdoor when it comes to food. I’ve found direct-access to top-notch sources of Indonesian food, epic Lasagna Bolognese, Texas-style tortillas and plenty of local food recommendations, including the subject of this blog post, Nepali Kitchen. They’ve opened in what seems to be a house on the corner of NE Fremont and 49th Ave (across the street from Stanich’s), with a lovely little courtyard established in the front yard. And the food is excellent.

I’ve eaten my share of Himalayan, Tibetan and Nepalese food over the years (“Himalayan Heights” AKA Jackson Heights in Queens, a short subway away from my Astoria apartment, boasts a lot of food from this region), and I’m here to tell you that the food is legit. I bought four things: chicken momos, paratha, chicken curry with roti, and chai.

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Stuffed Parathas

Of these four, the stuffed paratha was my favorite—an Indian flatbread stuffed with cheese, potato and spinach that was a little bit sweet, plenty savory and just overall super tasty. It was a substantial serving, too.

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Chicken Momos

While there are vegetable and pork momos on the menu, I chose the chicken momos, in part for sentimental reasons. I have fond memories of buying them at the Potala Fresh Momo Truck in Jackson Heights over the years, and I wanted to see how these stood up. These chicken momos had more of a curry flavor than I’m used to, and the moist filling is a very even mix of chicken, cabbage and onion. They are delicious and I love the shape (I prefer it to the more potsticker-style shape). The requisite two sauces—spicy green and mild orange/red—was offered, and they turned out to be really good and flavorful in their own right. It’s pretty easy to make these sauces, especially the orange/red one, kind of bland, but this was not the case.

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Chicken Curry and Roti

The chicken curry was also tasty but probably my least favorite of the choices. I opted for the roti accompaniment, but next time I’d probably choose the rice option. Note: the roti is a very different style from the kind you’ll find in Malaysian and other Southeast Asian countries; it’s more like a chapatti. The chai, which I had heard was unsweetened, was perfectly sweetened in my cup, with balanced yet vibrant spices. Taking a sip brought me back to evenings spent with a friend sipping chai at one of the sweets shops in Jackson Heights. I thought it was a real winner.

Aside: I’d love it if they offered the delicious and comforting butter tea this winter.

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There’s a lot left to try on the menu, and the new information I read this morning means there will be time to do so. There was a little bit of confusion about the zoning of the address—some thought it was zoned residential, but it turns out it’s zoned commercial. However, my source says, “the restaurant does need to get itself up to code. The restaurant can continue to operate as they work with the city to get into compliance and obtain the proper permits.” How did this all come to light? Someone made a complaint. I don’t know who or why, but in the end I’m really happy that Nepali Kitchen can continue operating as they work to get up to city code.

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When you walk into the courtyard, the most wonderful smell greets you. It feels peaceful in there, despite being on bustling Fremont Street. The little outdoor huts the owners have built are adorable; I hope they can remain on the property. My understanding is that the owners spent a lot of time putting them together.

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So, if you like food from the Himalayan region, pop on over and give them a try!

Nepali Kitchen
3434 NE 49th Avenue, Portland
Yelp

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Bridgetown Bites is written by Meg Cotner, a food loving freelance writer, editor and published author in Portland, OR.

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