Himalayan Kitchen ~ Encinitas (round 2 )

So, its hard for me to re-visit restaurants, especially so soon. I loved this place so much I headed back down with a Chef friend of mine to check them out again.

The place is Himalayan Kitchen at 1337 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas.

You can read my more detailed original post here.

This quick post is just to give you mine and my guests thoughts on the second visit.

First off, Momos were not ready yet ūüė¶

Himalayan kitchen (1 of 1)

L to R

Basmati Rice ~ perfectly cooked lightly seasoned rice as an accompaniment

Rato Bhale ra Bhanta ~ Diced eggplant and chicken cooked with exotic spices Nepalese style. This was the star dish. Rich depth of flavor and perfectly cooked eggplant and tender chicken.

Lamb Biryani ~ Lamb, basmati rice cooked in special herbs and spices. similar to the one I had the last time and just as good. The lamb was tender and flavorful and the rice perfect.

We also had Badami Naan which was delightful.

This is my new favorite spot. I will be here again and again. Chef concurred its delicious.

Himalayan Kitchen

1337 Encinitas Blvd Encinitas

Himalayan Kitchen ~ Encinitas

I was so excited when I came across this place. Great Himalayan food in North County…YAY! I was having to sneaking down to San Diego’s Himalayan Dinning Inn every month.

Himalayan cuisine encompasses food from the countries of India, Bangladesh, and my favorite Nepal. Though a lot of the ingredients are similar, the meats and spices will vary from country to country.

In India you see more curries and hotter spice levels. Nepali cuisine in general uses different spicing and is usually more mild.

That is why I love a restaurant like Himalayan Kitchen that can do these different variations on dishes and do them well.

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Himalayan Kitchen 1337 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas (sprouts shopping center corner of Encinitas and El Camino )

Before the food let me mention the staff, I was so impressed. Professional, cortiouse, and friendly. Two of the staff were new. First day I think? They handled a lunch rush better than I have seen trained wait staff.

The other thing is they were very informative. I am not the normal customer. I do research. I actually read the menu a few times online, looked stuff up, and like most cases know what I’m getting before I come in. The other customers on the hand, had generally no idea what anything was. The staff was great in walking them through it. The other thing I thought was great was a lot of the customers sayed ” we saw you and wanted to learn more about this kind of food”. That was great to hear.

On to food……………

I love Momo. “Its kind of like a Gyoza or Chinese steamed dumpling” or that is what people would have you believe…it’s not. Because of whats inside, the spices, plus a slight lightness to the dough it is a Momo, or as I call them little packets of love.

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Vegetarian Momo ~ minced cabbage, spinach, cashews, nuts, paneer, onion, cilantro, green onion, and spices.

what does that filling look like?

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That is what love looks like.

Seriously, so much flavor. Great mix of spices. Slight heat at the back. They also come in chicken and lamb. As much of a carnivore I am, I suggest going with the vegetable ones.

Momo is one of the most popular snack foods and is sold on almost every street corner in cities in Nepal. With good reason.

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Himalayan Biryani ~ Vegetables, paneer, Tandori cooked lamb, Tandori cooked chicken, shrimp, Himalayan spices.

Loved this dish. The rice was perfect, every grain was separate, had seasoning, and the right tooth. All three proteins, perfect seasoning, and tenderness. This is a huge portion. You could easily order Momos ūüôā and two entrees for 3 people.

They have heat levels much like a Thai restaurant. Their heat levels are honest. I ordered an 8, they warned me and suggested a 7. The 7 had heat that built with the dish as you ate through it. I could have done an 8 and will next time, but be warned the first time round down 1.

There are, at least, over 60 versions of this dish in the Himalayas. Just depends where you are what spices and proteins will be involved. In the more northern reasons you will see nuts and raisins for example, like this version. While it reminded me of paellea, unlike that dish these ingredients are cooked separately and then assembled.

Quickly, on the menu are over 51 items as mains, many are vegetarian. Field day for vegetarians man. If you are gluten-free plenty of vegetables and they did find a man who was there while I was some crackers as well.

Also great lunch specials ~ two curries, rice, lentil, soup and bread $7.95 to $11.95 depending on what curries.

It is not an Indian restaurant, it is a Himalayan restaurant. You will find some familiar dishes but many new ones as well….and Momos.

Wheeew, lots to say but it’s because I loved this little place. I think this and El Chapin were my two favorite strip mall restaurant finds in the last 8 months or so. I already knew about Irinas’a so they do not count.

Strip mall restaurant is the political correct term for hole in the wall:)

Himalayan Kitchen

1337 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas

(sprouts shopping center corner of Encinitas and El Camino )

#indian #himalayan #nepal #food #foodfinds.

North County 2016 ~ A look back

So, while 2016 did not see the growth explosion of new places opening  that 2015 did, it did see some important restaurants open and trends take hold or fade.

While this post is too short to be all-inclusive, it hits on what I think was important to the North County food scene over the last year. You know things are good when you really have to edit your self. Other wise it would be “Things I love in North County, see entire website.”

I am going to start with some of the most important restaurant openings in North County (IMO).

Campfire ~ Carlsbad

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Campfire is important for a number of reasons. One it is a great restaurant and would be right at home in the East Village, North Park or Little Italy’s ¬†Food scene. Two, along with Land and Water Company it adds a second ingredient driven, properly sourced, foodie destination restaurant to the mainly touristy, mediocre Carlsbad Village food scene. Lastly, along with Carruth Cellar’s tasting room and Babba Coffee, it is helping to revitalize the north end of state street.

608 ~ Oceanside

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Opening in June of this year 608 brought upscale food in a comfortable setting to Oceanside, and at a price point that made it accessible. Chef Will Eick, in my opinion, is one of San Diego’s most talented young Chefs. He is bringing fine dinning techniques and ingredients and making them approachable. He also just introduced a seven course tasting menu option on the weekends offering the first non Omakase tasting menu option in Oceanside.

Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill ~ Vista

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Like Campfire did in Carlsbad, Belching Beaver joined the Flying Pig and added another farm to table, high calibre restaurant to the growing Vista food scene. Combine that with a talented Chef who focuses on farming and teaching children about food, where it comes from and how to grow it, you can not help love the place. Their beer is alright too:)

It is constantly on my visit, when I can list.

There were quite a few trends in the national food scene that were also seen in North County.

Some have hit their peak…

Fast Casual Poki restaurants. The trend actually hit last year and made its way to San Diego and in turn North County in 2016. You have Wicked Poki, Sunshine Japanese Food, and Poke Poke in Oceanside, Poke Waii in San Marcos, and soon to be opening PokeWan in Carlsbad. I think from the ones I have been to, Poki Poki is the best. If you want higher caliber, chef made Hawaiian food and Poke, I suggest checking out Lanai in Leucadia or Yoshino Japanese Deli in Carlsbad for Poke and Japanese.

Some trends are just continuing to grow…

The Artisanal Coffee / Tea scene has continued to show no sign of stopping for years now. It has finally hit Carlsbad and Oceanside. I should not say finally hit, but grown. The major players that have shown up recently are Banana Dang!, Loose Leaf Tea, Sleeping Tiger, Revolution Roasters, Copa Vida and Steady State Roasting. Who join a number of great coffee houses already in the area. For the first time, in its four-year history, Caffeine Crawl has added two North County routes in Oceanside and Carlsbad that are set to kick off this years San Diego event in January.

Caffeine Crawl San Diego

Declining and rising…

I think the fast casual Gourmet Burger explosion of the last few years is dying down. Not that I think these places will go away, I just feel you will not see as much of a proliferation of places like Habit Burger, Burger Lounge, and Pure Burger as you have.

I think the pendulum is on the up swing for fast casual healthy options like Lemonade, Flower Child, True Food Kitchen, Tender Greens and the like.

Best Dishes of the Year…

This is hard, but because these spring to mind instantly, I have to go with them. Two are from San Diego but deserve mentioning.

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Spicy Scallop Nigiri ~ Wrench and Rodent (Oceanside)

Made for me by Alex, this dish was perfect. Just a slight heat from the red Cyclops Farms jalapenos, and melt in your mouth scallops from Catalina Offshore.

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Pan Seared Opah ~ Flying Pig . (Oceanside)

This was a nightly special, beautiful Opah ( one of my favorite, if not favorite, fish) on red farro and micro greens.

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1 year Anniversary BBQ plate ~ Flying Pig (Vista)

Everything you could want (especially me) on a plate. Perfect Tr-Tip, Pork Loin, and Brisket, cooked over open flame and served with veggies and mash.

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Coop De Ville Chicken Sandwich ~ Crack Shack (SD but soon coming to Encinitas)

Apply named Crack Shack, so good. One of the best fried chicken sandwiches ever.

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Chicken Skin Sandwich ~ Biga (SD)

You think it would be heavy because the main ingredient is chicken skin, nope light and flavorful. I plan to return to Biga for dinner in the new year.

 

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Char Grilled Oysters ~ Campfire (Carlsbad)

Great dish that reminds me of oyster festivals on the sound in Washington State. I get this every time.

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Pork Belly ~ 608 (Oceanside)

I love me some pork and this is a perfect pork belly dish. It is smoked before curing (usually it is the other way around.) making it full of porky goodness.

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Assorted Cookies ~ The Cravory (Carlsbad)

Their cookies will change your life, they changed mine. You can get them at their shop in Bressi Ranch, or in Oceanside at Banana Dang! Favorites are the Red Velvet or Birthday Cake.

Special places that I was so happy to discover this year...

El Chapin

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Authentic and delicious Guatemalan food that can not be beat.

Sitaram

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Family run, fixed daily menu, vegetarian, Indian restaurant that needs to be tried by all.

 

What I’m looking forward to next year….

Trying 608’s tasting menu, Flying Pig’s Brewery, That Boy Good / Alpine Brewing restaurant and ¬†brewery, LTH’s second concept , and much, much, more.

What you can look for from North County Food. A 3 to 4 chef “Dessert Dinner” at Petite Madeline for Oceanside Valentines Week. Another Chef Wine Dinner in March / April, and of course more restaurant highlights.

There you go a short recap of a great year food wise. Happy holidays to all and thanks for your support.

 

 

Sitaram ~ Encinitas

“Then there are those places”….Let me explain that phrase, I live a pretty blessed life when it comes to food. I get to eat a lot of great food, meet a lot of insanely talented people in the industry, go to and put on great events, and get somewhat paid for it. Truly¬†paid for it if you consider, the friendships I have developed, the experiences I have had, and the fact I get to spend most of my time surrounded by the things and people I am passionate about. Standing in the corner of a busy kitchen during a rush, taking pictures, watching, and listening is the only “Food Reality Show” I need.

I guess my point is, and linking back to the phrase at the beginning, that even with being immersed in all this, it is so exciting to go into a small family place and have your legs swept out from under you in amazement, and that is precisely what happened today at Sitaram in Encinitas.

I was originally intending to visit one of two other restaurants and changed my mind three times before remembering about the little Indian place on I street in Encinitas I had wanted to check out a while back. I had tried to have lunch there with Chef Willy from 608 but they were closed. I will list their hours at the end of the post as they are closed three days out of the week.

I am so glad my whim paid off by allowing me to discover, what I consider, the best Indian food I have had in San Diego.

sitaram

Sitaram is a small, 38 seat restaurant located at 120 West I Street, Encinitas. It is next door to the Potato Shack, off the 101.

A few things about Sitaram. First, it is vegetarian. Second, there is no food menu. The menu is a set menu of three authentically prepared Indian dishes, served with Sona Masuri rice, and Papadum flat bread.  The meal is served in a Nepalese style Thali or round metal segmented plate.

They do have a drink menu featuring traditional Indian drinks and teas. I ordered the Mango Lassi .

mango lase

Mango Lassi ~ yogurt, water, and mango pulp. I also believe Cardamom.

Think smoothie minus the ice. I was also offered a sample of their limeade, nothing like the American version of limeade, fresh lime juice, mint and other ingredients. Bright and slightly tart.

My lunch…… I will list as many ingredients as I can, Curries made from scratch have a notoriously large amount of spices and the owner was rattling them off faster than my note taking could keep up.

Sataram food

From back to front.

1. Sweet Potatoes and Beets ~ Onion seed, brown mustard seed, Cardamum, fenugreek leaves, fennel seeds, and more.

2. Split Lentil Dal.

3. Forgot what it was called I was too busy eating. Onion, Tomato, cauliflower, black mustard seed, and again more spices. This was my favorite the cauliflower was to die¬†for. You know how you see cauliflower at every gastropub cooked various ways? This ¬† ¬†made every Cauliflower dish I have had laughable. The exception would be the ¬† ¬†Privateer’s, it still holds up pretty well against this.

Even with the complexity and number of ingredients, you could taste all of them. Everything was rich, spicy, with just the right amount of back heat. The best thing I could say is, I felt like I was in someone’s home and they cooked me a traditional Indian lunch like it would be served in¬†their homeland. The food is obviously prepared by someone who loves and understands the cuisine.

A few additional things.

First, if you like authentic Indian food, Sitaram is a must. This place is head and shoulders above the more Uk style Indian fast casual food places we have around serving Butter Chicken, Lamb Vindaloo, and the like.

Second, I read a few Yelp comments about small portions. BS, the portions are fine, especially with such rich food. My lunch was $15 and came to $20 with drink and tax. A deal for the quality of the food. This is the kind of place Chefs love to eat at , and I plan on dragging some here.

If not having a menu and trusting the Chef bothers you, suck it up. Do you want great food prepared by someone who understands and knows the cuisine? Then trust them.

 

Sitaram

120 West I Street, Encinitas

Closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Open 11:30 to 8:30 Wednesday thru Friday, Saturday 5 to 8:30

 

Curry and More Indian Bistro ~ San Marcos

I was looking to cover a good Indian restaurant and after researching came across Curry and More in San Marcos.

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Curry and More

The restaurant is situated in a shopping center on the corner of Grand Ave. and S. Las Posas Rd. As you can see by the neighboring Pei Wei the center is strewn with chains and a few independents. There are probably 20 restaurants in the plaza.

Curry and More bills itself as an Indian bistro and I would have to agree that is what it is. A modern take on Indian food in a nice environment.

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Stock photo as it was getting full for lunch while I was there and people are funny about getting their picture taken. But that is what it looks like.

The restaurant is table service and the wait staff are very friendly and on top of things.

mimosas

BIKANERI SAMOSA ~  FRIED FLAKY PASTRY PUFFS FILLED WITH POTATOES, GREEN PEAS & SPICES.

They have a pristine open kitchen behind glass (health code) and everything is made to order. The Samosas were fresh and piping hot and served with three dipping sauces. Ranging from hot to yogurt and dill.

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The Open Kitchen

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Chicken Tikka Masala ~ Chicken Tikka, Tomato and cream sauce.

Great dish again very fresh, perfect rice. I asked for a “10” heat but was talked down to an “8”…a “9” would have been just right but I have a large heat tolerance.

I was pretty impressed with this place and would return, they have a pretty extensive menu. I was tempted to order Lamb Vindaloo just because of Red Dwarf:)

Curry and More Indian Bistro

113 S LAS POSAS RD
SUITE 111,
SAN MARCOS, CA 92078
(760) 736-4540

curryandmore.com