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[Houston] Himalaya


jscarbor
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Decided to have lunch friday with an old dining buddy I met some time ago on chowhound. Both he and I have been dining out a little less lately and it shows. Ive dropped 10 pounds and he dropped a good 70. I guess we both know that if we are a little healthier we will have a longer period of time here on planet earth and can enjoy food longer. That being said it didn't stop us from ordering like a couple of pigs.

I arrived at the restaurant a little early and a guy who I later came to find out was the chef/owner Kaiser, he asked if I wanted the special. I told him I was waiting for someone. My friend called and told me to go ahead and order a few dishes. From across the room I told the chef we wanted to try the chicken biryani, chapli and chicken mara masala. My friend arrives shortly and listens to what I ordered and he just knew he had to try the Hunters Beef as well. He told the stunned chef of are wishes and disappeared into the kitchen. The first dish was some excellent chicken Biryani. The chef sat down and told us why it was so good after we were ohhhing and awing. To tell the truth I didn't really here what he had to say I was eating. The second dish that came out was the chapli. Earlier I told Kaiser I liked spicey food. Evidently he didn't believe me, either that or Robb Walsh, who had reviewed this place a month or so ago, is a wuss cause there was only a hint of spice. This dish was served with some flatbread/naan and a cucumber onion salad and a green mint sauce. Chapli is a burger of sorts so I mixed up the mint sauce in the cuc mixture and added the beef and the cuc mixture into some naan. This turned out to be a great burger even if it missed some of the spice I was looking for. The next dish was a powerful chicken mara masala. Similar to tikka masala only it was a greenish colored curry. This was probably my fav dish. Last was the hunters beef and although good it didn't have any of the cilantro of peppers that walsh wrote about. Next time I'll make sure to really express my sincere intrest in SPICEY food. The dish is likes chipped beef or hash and is served with a redish yogurt sauce. Again it was very good, I just wanted some spice baby. After lunch we packed up some leftovers (you didn't think we would eat all that or leave it there for that matter did you?) and spoke with the chef for awhile. He was really nice. There were not many customers the time we were there from 12:30 to 1:30. I did notice a lot of takeout though. Kaiser said he gets a late crowd. For that reason he stays open pretty late, midnight on the weekends. He also asked us for good late night joints because he likes to eat out after he closes. I basically froze and could only mustard Mais. I need to put my thinking cap on and give him a few more choices like bibas etc.

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Himalaya is pretty close to my work and I have eaten there twice with a co-worker. Both times the food have been excellent and well made and the owner is very friendly and helpful. The lunch special is pretty good and quiet a good size. You get rice, two difffrent "curries", a wimpy salad, yogurt sauce, a small dessert and one of the best fresh flatbreads in town. On another occasion I ordered the Chapli's as well and you are right, they are not very spicy but good and tasty..sort of like an exotic Lebanese Kofta. I tried ordering Hunter's beef one one occassion but he said he was out and apologized profusely. It's definitly on our lunch rotation.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

Oh no! I had a really avg meal here today. I hope thats not a sign.

The best way to go is with a group. If its just 1 or 2 then you are going to be talked into the daily special which isn't that special IMO, usually its a couple of decent dishes but nothing to write home about.

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  • 9 months later...

I feel like championing this terrific little restaurant. I'm convinced that they make the best naan in town, I can't think of a place that does it better.

Lunch Buffet. There isn't one. The problem with lunch buffets are that for the most part the dishes are heated from underneath with sterno. The food doesn't get turned and the onions and some other vegetables start to look dark or greyish. Plus, with spinach, which has a lot of iron in it, the color starts to turn. No. No lunch buffet for the Himalaya. Instead you get a freshly prepared lunch plate with a sampling of chicken tikka masala, naan made fresh for you and an ample portion of whatever other creative dishes he has made for the day. His attention to freshness is the best.

So, I started recently returning here for lunch. But it really is a lot of food (which is why I hadn't been in awhile) and I discovered another spectacular dish on the menu. Billed simply as grilled fish with naan, this is a (locally purchased, not frozen Chinese) grilled tilapia with the fire and spices we've associated with Indo-Pak food. And as always the naan is perfect. The fish is served simply, on a bed of sliced onions with tomatoes. Be sure to ask for raita.

Save some room for the coconut macaroons.

I first met Chef Lashkani (sic?) several years ago through a Parsi friend of mine, when he had a small place on Beechnut, mainly for take-out and catering to the Pakistani and Indian community. We went in and just hung out with him. "Well, what would you like to eat", he asked. There really wasn't a menu so we left ourselves in his hands.

At Himalaya, his menu is extensive. It's a low key place, very relaxed atmosphere. You order at the counter.

I'm told that his most popular dish is the special biriani, but I prefer, and would recommend you order the following on your first visit:

Handi chicken

Chicken tikka masala

Grilled fish with naan

Coconut macaroons and mango ice cream for dessert

For milder, less spicy options: "Persian" kabobs with rice and Saag Paneer

Additionally, if you are (unlike me) a fan of the Pakistani classic dishes: haleem and nehari, my Pakistani friends tell me his are spectacular.

On Friday night, a group of 8 of us gathered there. We let it all out, with at least one entree per person, several biriani, mango lassi, lots of naan, lots of desserts. A real feast. And with tax and tips, it still was only $33 a couple.

Robb has reviewed this restaurant for the Press and you can locate his review in the archives at the Houston Press. I don't know if Alison has, but if she hasn't, she should.

Note: You go to most Pakistani oriented restaurants and the food is floating in oil (its their style). There's definitely less oil usage at Himalaya. Those familiar with Balti style cooking from the UK know that it's not as critical to have rice with your meal as would be at more Indian focused restaurants. By the way, if you're fortunate to be there just as the basmati comes out of the cooker, wow.

So, when people come to visit from out of town, this restaurant (along with Tampico, Lopez, Caspian, Jasmine) is the one I take them to.

Jay

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Thanks for the reminder - I've been meaning to try Himalaya.

On another (unrelated) note - please try Petatlan Taqueria & Nieveria, located at 16503 Clay Rd, just west of Hwy-6. They've just opened and I've eaten there twice. Absolutely fantastic Mex food prepared as it should. Everything hand-made from fresh ingredients. Even the ice cream is hand made by a recent transplant from Michoacan (who made some corn ice cream). But the enchiladas (Mex-style folded over once, not rolled) and chile relleno were incredible.

Kerr.

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What about the chapli kabob and the hunters beef? Both are fantastic.

I feel like championing this terrific little restaurant.  I'm convinced that they make the best naan in town, I can't think of a place that does it better.

Lunch Buffet.  There isn't one.  The problem with lunch buffets are that for the most part the dishes are heated from underneath with sterno.  The food doesn't get turned and the onions and some other vegetables start to look dark or greyish.  Plus, with spinach, which has a lot of iron in it, the color starts to turn. No.  No lunch buffet for the Himalaya.  Instead you get a freshly prepared lunch plate with a sampling of chicken tikka masala, naan made fresh for you and an ample portion of whatever other creative dishes he has made for the day.  His attention to freshness is the best.

So, I started recently returning here for lunch.  But it really is a lot of food (which is why I hadn't been in awhile) and I discovered another spectacular dish on the menu.  Billed simply as grilled fish with naan, this is a (locally purchased, not frozen Chinese) grilled tilapia with the fire and spices we've associated with Indo-Pak food.  And as always the naan is perfect.  The fish is served simply, on a bed of sliced onions with tomatoes. Be sure to ask for raita.

Save some room for the coconut macaroons.

I first met Chef Lashkani (sic?) several years ago through a Parsi friend of mine, when he had a small place on Beechnut, mainly for take-out and catering to the Pakistani and Indian community. We went in and just hung out with him.  "Well, what would you like to eat", he asked.  There really wasn't a menu so we left ourselves in his hands.

At Himalaya, his menu is extensive.  It's a low key place, very relaxed atmosphere. You order at the counter.

I'm told that his most popular dish is the special biriani, but I prefer, and would recommend you order the following on your first visit:

Handi chicken

Chicken tikka masala

Grilled fish with naan

Coconut macaroons and mango ice cream for dessert

For milder, less spicy options:  "Persian" kabobs with rice  and Saag Paneer

Additionally, if you are (unlike me) a fan of the Pakistani classic dishes: haleem and nehari, my Pakistani friends tell me his are spectacular.

On Friday night, a group of 8 of us gathered there.  We let it all out, with at least one entree per person, several biriani, mango lassi, lots of naan, lots of desserts.  A real feast.  And with tax and tips, it still was only $33 a couple.

Robb has reviewed this restaurant for the Press and you can locate his review in the archives at the Houston Press. I don't know if Alison has, but if she hasn't, she should.

Note: You go to most Pakistani oriented restaurants and the food is floating in oil (its their style).  There's definitely less oil usage at Himalaya.  Those familiar with Balti style cooking from the UK know that it's not as critical to have rice with your meal as would be at more Indian focused restaurants.  By the way, if you're fortunate to be there just as the basmati comes out of the cooker, wow.

So, when people come to visit from out of town, this restaurant (along with Tampico, Lopez, Caspian, Jasmine) is the one I take them to.

Jay

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This place is truely an ethnic gem of wonderful affordable food. We went there yesterday again. The owner/chef knows us by now and he welcomed us and immediatly asked if we would like that day's lunch special. We both did and got a plate with chicken curry, beef curry, a chapli patty, basmati, sliced onions/carrots/cucumbers and one of the best fresh naan in town. All for something like $6, and everything was excellent and more than enough for lunch.

At the end of course he brought us dessert, mango yogurt pudding with pistachio. I've been here several times and I do not think I've had the same dessert twice! Unfortunatly I did not like this one at all, mainly because the yogurt was way too sour for my taste. The owner noticed and immediatly stopped by and checked, "Did you not like it? Too sour for you?", I nodded. He immediatly says, "I'll get you something else". I tried to tell him not too worry about it and that I was too full anyways...he did not listen. A minute later he returns with a dessert/drink I recognized from this week's episode of Bourdain's "No Reservations" as "Falooda". A lovely sweet milky dessert with jelly like seeds in it and threads of vermicelli. I finished it all to the great delight of the Chef :smile:. He later explained to me how time consuming it is to make Falooda and that is why you will not always find it on his menu. If I ever leave my current job I will certainly miss the 5 minute drive to Himalaya

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Ohhh so good. Stopped by Himalaya last night after the Stros game and had the grilled fish and Lamb curry specials.

Grilled fish was rubbed with dry spices (garam masala perhaps?) and grilled. It was very tasty especially with that excellent naan.

The Lamb curry was incredible. I think it took some of its origins or maybe vice versus from penang dish of thai. It was a peanut based pakistani curry. It had the cardaman which I think is what made it different from thai penang.

Can't rec this place enough.

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  • 1 month later...

Another great meal last night. I feel the need to mention one dish I had that was superb. It was a potato dumpling. Sounds innocent enough right? Well this was no ordinary potato, it was mixed with spices, fried then topped with a sagg paneer type sauce and at that point I think it was cooked on top of charcoal which gave it a nice smoke flavor. One of the best dishes I have had in a long time.

If you go by tell him John Scarborough sent you and he will take care of you.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Where is it located?

On the shopping center on the corner of Hillcroft and Southwest freeway.

I've forgotten to post here, but to echo jscarbor neverending champion-ing of this restaurant, this place is the real deal.

My favorite dish so far has definitely been the Grilled fish with Naan with the Beef Lohsi (sp?) coming in at a close second. The fish is rubbed with a lot of spices, which most of it I think is garam masala and grilled perfectly till it is nice and tender and served with their famous naan (I found out they also have a wheat version for you healthy folks) the Lohsi beef is slowly simmered with with coriander, onions, and bell peppers and topped with fresh cilantro and again served with naan.

Other things I have were the Chicken tikka masala which was pretty fiery, but filled with flavor, and the beef chapli. I hear they make a good burger too. I'll have to check it out. My girlfriend, being vegetarian has also yet to be disappointed... with her favorite being the malai kofta which is a potato and veg dumpling simmered in a red, rich sauce and the Baigan Bartha which is eggplant that's been cooked slowly and mashed and served with a lot of spices that I can't remember at the time. I'd also like to point out that not only is their naan good, but they have a good poori too. Also if you want dessert, don't pass up their rice pudding which is creamy, soft, and not too sweet and sprinkled with pistachios.

If anyone's been recently and had something else that's really good, post it here, I want to try everything. If you haven't gone, go, then tell me what else you ate.

... and also thanks John for continually posting about it because I go at least once every week or two.

Edited by tetsujustin (log)
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This really gave me a chuckle

(I found out they also have a wheat version for you healthy folks)

I mean there's no getting around it, Pakistani food is heavy on the fat (mainly ghee). This place with it's awsome food is not for dieters. After soaking the "wheat" naan in some rich glistening curry, I am not sure how "healthy" it is. Of course I think labeling anything that is low in fat as healthy is rediculous as well. Himalaya's food is lovingly made from scratch and tastes fantastic, in my book that is all that matters. Like Jscarbor said though, moderation is key. Most of the times when I have lunch here, I do not/cannot have dinner anyways.

Great, now I'm craving some good food from Himalaya...

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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This really gave me a chuckle
(I found out they also have a wheat version for you healthy folks)

I mean there's no getting around it, Pakistani food is heavy on the fat (mainly ghee). This place with it's awsome food is not for dieters. After soaking the "wheat" naan in some rich glistening curry, I am not sure how "healthy" it is. Of course I think labeling anything that is low in fat as healthy is rediculous as well. Himalaya's food is lovingly made from scratch and tastes fantastic, in my book that is all that matters. Like Jscarbor said though, moderation is key. Most of the times when I have lunch here, I do not/cannot have dinner anyways.

Great, now I'm craving some good food from Himalaya...

All I was suggesting was that there was the option for the people who would rather have it.

Edited by tetsujustin (log)
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