- Alex Springer
At first glance, you wouldn't think that Utah would be home to the diverse cuisines of Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal—but that's what makes it fun to explore. For example, Everest Curry Kitchen (68 E. 10600 South, Sandy, 801-571-4015, everestcurrykitchenutah.com) has a menu that dovetails with traditional Indian dishes like tandoori chicken, tikka masala, and samosas, while offering some great flavors from Nepal. Don't be misled by the nondescript storefront within a Sandy strip mall; Everest is a great place for traditional Indian food, but you'll want to stick around for some flavorful Nepalese cuisine as well.
My first experience with Tibetan and Nepalese food came at the Living Traditions Festival, Utah's annual celebration of the myriad cultures that call our state home. I spotted someone doling out these baseball-sized tufts of steamed dough with a little bit of crispy brown on top. Once I learned that they were called momos and stuffed with meat and veggies, I had to make them a part of my life. Since then, I've been pleased to try out momos of all variations thanks to the fine Tibetan and Nepalese restaurants that have chosen to call Utah home.
With all this momo experience under my belt, this was my first choice at Everest. Their online menu touts veggie ($10.99) and chicken ($11.99) momos, but when I placed a recent order, I saw that they had bison momos ($11.99) up for grabs, which is the right choice for several reasons. First of all, everyone knows that a buffalo burger will beat a regular beef burger nine times out of 10. You put that tender bison meat into a dumpling with some onions and spices, and you've got pure magic on your hands. I also love the cultural parallels—as a Western guy who grew up downing bison burgers at Yellowstone, finding out that a culture thousands of miles away adds bison to their momos speaks to how similar we all really are. It's also a testament to the fact that buffalo meat is awesome no matter where you can find it.
Continuing through the menu, I put together a kind of family-sized feast that consisted of the veggie Everest platter ($7.99), the Everest tandoori mixed grill ($18.99) and a plate of chicken chow chow ($11.99). For those checking out Everest for the first time, this is a good way to get your bearings—you get a plethora of deep-fried appetizers, a serious helping of meats prepared via tandoori oven or kebab, and a heaping pile of stir-fried noodles.
The veggie appetizer platter comes complete with some aloo tikki (mashed potato patties fried up with ginger and garlic); paneer and veggie pakodas, which are battered in chickpea flour and deep fried; and a veggie samosa. It's an excellent mix of fried appetizers, but there are a few hits and misses here. You can never really go wrong with a samosa, and Everest is cooking these up right. Golden brown pyramidal pastries stuffed with potatoes, peas and a smoky mix of spices. The paneer pakoda was a surprise hit as well—it's a generous slab of battered and fried paneer, and the cheese doesn't melt in the deep fryer, so you've got a nice little snack of thick cottage cheese with a crispy exterior. The veggie pakodas and the aloo tikki were fine, but they paled in comparison to the other members of this tasty platter.
The Everest tandoori mixed grill is perfect for anyone who identifies as a meat lover. You've got some lovely reshami and boti kebabs made with lamb and chicken, a few tandoori shrimp and some tandoori chicken legs and wings. It arrives slathered in a marvelous red sauce and tossed with green peppers and onions. The sauce can be made mild, medium or spicy depending on how high you like your heat levels—I went with medium, and felt like I should have gone a step higher.
All the same, what you get here is some tender, marinated morsels of lamb, chicken and shrimp, the flavors of which get ramped up by all that delicious sauce. It's food served right off the grill, which adds a welcome char and smoky flavor to the mix, but Everest shows the right amount of love to their protein before it hits the grill. There's a legacy level spice mix and marinade going on here—you can taste the history in this dish.
The chicken chow chow is an interesting Indo-Chinese noodle dish that once again goes for broke with its sauce. The presentation and ingredients are similar to a bowl of chicken lo mein, but when it all gets stir fried with Everest's blend of Himalayan spices, you get a luscious gravy of a sauce that adds a slightly sweet flavor to the smoky notes that have come to define Everest's menu.
Overall, a trip to Everest is going to surprise you. I thought that I knew what to expect when ordering up my selections, but the restaurant has a fun penchant for throwing in flavors and spices that lob a pleasant curve ball to your taste buds. Fans of Indian food looking to expand their horizons will definitely want to check this place out.