After a rather horrifying incident with yak butter tea a few years ago, I pretty much swore off any further experiences with Tibetan food. Yak can do that to a person.
A recent shout-out by a BiteClubber over my noticeable lack of Indian coverage, however, prompted me to take another look at Shangri-La, a Himalayan spot I’d actually been a little nervous about trying since it’s opening a couple years ago. Remember the yak tea?
Now, depending on who you ask, foods of the Himalayas are either closely related to Indian cuisine or, well, not related at all. It’s a matter of perspective and location, really. Things like momo-a Himalayan specialty made from minced meat or vegetables wrapped in dough (think Chinese dumplings) seem to have little to do with the creamy curries, raitas and paneer more familiar further south. Nepali staples like a hearty daal (lentil soup), however, feel right at home with their Indian brethren.
Regardless, at this busy Rohnert Park favorite, the cuisines pal around quite nicely. The menu includes house-made Nepali meat and vegetable momo, vegetarian lentil soups as well as sizzling Tandoori, samosa, curry, steaming naan (made fresh after you order, and some of the best I’ve had) and yes, even the Anglo-corrupted Tikka Masala.*
Carnivore or vegetarian, the mash-up of owner Meenakshi Sharma’s homeland foods and familiar Indian favorites makes for some pretty diverse eating. Many of the curries, samosa, momo and paneer are available without meat and baked salmon tandoori is a house specialty for fish-itarians. And, nearly everything is made fresh daily, so you won’t be getting yesterday’s leftover tandoori.
Forget about going carb-free, here. The pillowy-hot naan and flowery jasmine rice (they infuse the rice with a special blend of herbs) are absolute can’t-miss-sides. A point of pride at the restaurant is to keep the heat down (though you can request anything from mild to wild) so the subtle spices and unique flavors shine through.
Lunch specials are offered Monday through Friday from 11:30 to 3pm for $7.99, a nice value as prices for entrees and curries can get steep ($8.99 and up for curry, $13.99 and up for tandoori platters).
And thankfully, no yak butter tea.
Shangri-La Food From the Himalayas, 1706 East Cotati Ave. at Wolf Den Plaza, Rohnert Park, 707.793.0300. Closed Sunday.
* Yep, Tikka Masala is the chow mein of chicken of Indian food. Though its origins are sketchy, most agree that the creamy tomato curry didn’t originate in India, but rather somewhere in the UK. Sorry to burst your bubble. I actually love the stuff, too.