Taste of Himalayas
Some people build friendships based on the notion that the friendship will last longer than short-term. Others build their friendships based on opportunistic ventures. You know that you have a great friendship with someone when you are willing to drive off the map to sample a restaurant per that friend’s recommendation. A great friend, who was a previous supervisor, had recommended a certain Himalayan restaurant to me while I was in Washington, DC, on assignment. He apparently had some empathy for me when I was in Washington, DC, missing a rather important ingredient in my food — flavour. Needless to say, he and I had agreed to meet at the Himalayan restaurant one evening to commiserate about photography, food, our previous employment, and knives. I had since accepted a new opportunity, returned to Chicago, and closed out a chapter of my life that was necessary for me to know that it was time to acknowledge that my “place” was not to be set my someone other than me.
In the quaint downtown of St. Charles, IL, is Taste of Himalayas on 110 N. 3rd Street. The drive out to St. Charles, IL, was indeed a trip off the map. Being accustomed to catching the subway, the elevated train, or the bus to wherever I wanted to go — and well within an hour from door-to-door — the two-hour trek west out of Chicago proper was an experience in itself. Yes, I was anticipating something incredibly fascinating to the palate. Late because it was a Friday after work and traffic was aggressive on the expressway and side roads, my appetite and I arrived, ready for action.
My friend and I started with drinks, he having a King Fisher beer and me having a mango lassi. I shall just say that this is the first time I have had a mango lassi that I consider to be the absolute best that I have ever had. Creamy texture, full of flavour, and loaded with wow, I would have ordered another one had it not been for the fact that the drink came in a tall glass. Generally, Indian restaurants serve mango lassi in short glasses, whetting the palate more than pleasing the belly. With our drinks, we started with appetizers — an order of vegetarian samosas and an order of keema samosas. Two flaky pastry teardrop shells encased seasoned potatoes and peas. Two more flaky pastry teardrop shells encased seasoned ground lamb with peas. These samosas were not small, by any means. Alone these appetizers were filling, but we enjoyed them and waited a while before ordering entrées.
Since we were not rushed to order our entrées, we let our appetizers settle before rattling off what else we wanted. In the meantime, we noticed the constant flow of people in and out of the restaurant, which is an indication of good business and satisfied customers. And because there was no hurry-up-and-leave atmosphere, there were several tables that had no turnover while we were there. More discussion about photography, flying — since my friend has his pilots license, and international travel, it was time for the second round of food. We ordered a shrimp chilli masala dish with rice and garlic naan. Also, we had a chana batura, which were chickpeas in a curry gravy with poof fried bread. What we both came to realize was that Indian food is best ordered spicy, not mild. The flavours were there, but more as a hint. What the realization was to us was a hint that we will have to return and order some other dishes the way that Indians enjoy them — bursting with spices.
The downside of the meal at Taste of Himalayas was that it was so filling that I was mildly comatose afterwards. Thankfully, my friend had me walk through the St. Charles downtown in the brisk night air to wake me up. I would have checked into a hotel in the town so that I would not have to endure almost two hours of a commute back onto the Chicago map while fighting sleep. There is the possibility that I will return to St. Charles in the near future. My friend has recommended an Italian restaurant that may be worthy of my patronage. Considering Taste of Himalayas is the second restaurant he has offered as a suggestion that has been a hit, I think an early day trip back towards the direction of Iowa is feasible. And if the Italian restaurant is busy, I now know of a certain Himalayan restaurant at 110 N. 3rd Street in St. Charles, IL, that I will gladly enjoy again.