Mt. Everest Restaurant
It dawned on me today that the jeans I had struggled unsuccessfully to get into had a 32-inch waist, so I tossed them aside and settled for a pair of jeans with a 34-inch waist. Well, that did some good since I burst the seams at the seat of those while I was bending over to tie my shoes. I have now burst the seat in three pairs of jeans since I began my weight gain regime. I guess I should really be more serious about capping my weight gain at 205 pounds because the 36-inch-waist jeans are fitting rather nicely without a belt and I am having to replace my wardrobe, but that may mean I will have to cut back on my restaurant enjoyment. No, no way, I cannot have that. Food is still my lover.
It was a cold night in Chicago — “No, really?” you ask — and my adventurous restaurant friend and I decided to warm up over plates of Nepali food at Mt. Everest Restaurant at 618 Church Street in Evanston, Illinois. We would certainly warm up with heat from the restaurant and since Nepali food is just like Indian food. The spices would help even more. Located in downtown Evanston, Mt. Everest Restaurant has a storefront façade, but then becomes an expansive eatery once you go inside. Clean, courteous wait staff make sure you are thoroughly satisfied before you leave.
We started with two swruwats — the word for appetizers in Nepali. One was a plate of vegetarian samosas, which were flaky pastries stuffed with potatoes, green peas, herbs, and spices. The other appetizer was a plate of momo chicken. This was minced chicken mixed with Nepali spices and steamed inside wheat bread served with Nepali aachar. I have a rule that if the appetizers are good enough to make you want to have a smoke, and I do not smoke, the rest of the dinner is certain to be outstanding. Mt. Everest Restaurant exceeded my expectations.
The good thing about eating at the ethnic restaurants that my friend and I have gone to is that they serve the food family style. When I say family style, I do not merely mean the family eats together. Think of Thanksgiving when food comes to the table and everyone serves themselves — as well as uninvited guests that other knucklehead family members feel should be present. I find myself eating family style more with my friends, but we are all immigrants or first generation Americans who grew up eating from a common pot. As is the norm, my friend and I ordered three entrées family style: palungo ko saag, kukhura ko maasu, and dal makhani.
The palungo ko saag was fresh garden spinach cooked with chopped tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, and Himalayan spices. The kukhura ko maasu was chicken cooked in typical Nepali village style with local herbs and spices. The dal makhani were black lentils simmered until tender and tempered with ginger, garlic, tomatoes, herbs and spices. Served with rice, aloo paratha, and garlic naan, it was hard to walk out of the restaurant with any kind of disappointment. I did have a concern about falling asleep on public transportation and missing my stop. I was thankful it was cold enough to keep me awake while I waited for the el, though. [Public transportation becomes a circus south of downtown Chicago and I always like to stay awake to capture the performances with my trusty digital camera.]
Normally, we would opt for some dessert after dinner, but the entrées were too filling. I had already reached the point where my eyelids were getting heavy and my speech began to slur. That meant I could not pack in any more food. What we did do was settle for cups of chai. You cannot go wrong with a good cup of chai and Mt. Everest Restaurant definitely did not serve up any of that store-bought stuff in the carton — oh, what satisfaction, said with a hint of mild disdain.
By now, you probably already know that Mt. Everest Restaurant is on my recommended list. Yes, it comes without saying. The prices of the food are not as exorbitant as I would expect for a restaurant with such good food. We are talking large portions, enough to induce sleeping, and for all the food that my friend and I ordered, we still paid a small price. You had better believe I am going back and I would even go back while it is cold outside. Then again, my food addiction always has me running up in some restaurant regardless of how cold it is or how much snow we have on the ground, so I guess weather conditions are moot. Go! Go to Mt. Everest You will not walk away unhappy, but you will be sleepy after eating all of the food. That is a given.
17 February 2007