Being some serious foodies, we’re always on the lookout for different culinary experiences. We’re especially stoked by things we’ve never ever tried or seen before. Enter: The Sherpa Kitchen, a restaurant specializing in Nepalese-Himalayan food. In Vermont.
Let us say just how intrigued we were when, in the middle of strolling through Burlington’s downtown, we saw a storefront with some immaculately sculpted statues acting as door handles on its front door.
We literally took a couple steps back to discover the type of establishment onto which we’d stumbled. That’s when we saw that this was Sherpa Kitchen, a restaurant whose cuisine hailed from Nepal and the Himalayas.
Our attention was caught.
We immediately decided to check out the food. After all, it’s never too early to try something new!
When we walked in, we saw that the decor pretty clearly matched the intricately-carved door handles. There were pictures of Nepalese folk adorning the walls, and all around, there were decorations that were clearly not from the Green Mountain State.
Things looked unfamiliar to us, given our lack of experience with the Himalayas. As such, we were expecting some rather unexpected things from our menu.
You can imagine our surprise when we saw a menu that was just filled with names and words we’d come to be very familiar with – because of our love of Indian food.
A quick scan of the page later, and we saw that there was mango lassi and saag and chicken tikka masala. There were even samosas.
Yeah, we were a bit puzzled. Were these dishes identical to Indian food, or merely shared the same names? Well, there was only one way to find out 🙂 .
And so, we chose our meal. Fortunately for us, their menu was conveniently simple and straightforward. It was a basic mix and match situation where we built our own meal combos, each consisting of a drink, an appetizer, and a main dish.
Mariam ordered the Nepalese chai, the aloo chop (i.e., potato croquettes), and dumplings.
Henry ordered the house-made Himalayan lemonade, the samosa (because of course he would – when wouldn’t he?), and the lamb bindalu.
We liked it plenty 🙂 . Let us tell you why.
We finally found the unfamiliar element: It was all in the way the food was spiced. Everything (except for the chai and lemonade) tasted differently from their Indian counterparts. Flavours across the board were much more subtle and understated. Don’t get us wrong – there was still plenty of flavour (particularly in the lamb bindalu). They just weren’t as forceful as the flavours in Indian food (as we’ve experienced it).
The aloo chop was less salty than expected, and the texture was considerably smoother than what we’ve been used to. In fact, it almost felt like the potatoes inside the crispy shell simply melted on our tongues. The accompanying sauce was light and tangy without being sharp.
Similarly, the samosa was very mild in flavour (it wasn’t spicy at all). It was quite crispy, and the crust had a very pleasant saltiness to it. The samosa was accompanied by plum dipping sauce arranged in an artful squiggle on the plate.
Moving on to the heart of the meal, both main dishes were winners. At this point, we’ve experienced many, many variants of dumplings (part of the advantage of living in Montreal, City of a Thousand Dumpling Restaurants) (ok, so that title isn’t literal, and is only conferred by us), but there was still much love to be had for these dumplings. Their shells were chewy without being tough, the filling was seasoned well, and the dipping sauce (which tasted like the dipping sauce for the aloo chop) matched the dumplings overall.
As for the other main dish, well: The lamb bindalu sung. It was quite different from Indian vindalu, however. First of all, the sauce was much, much lighter and clearer. It resembled more a broth than a sauce, to be honest. Second, the spices were much more different than that in Indian cuisine. There was a lighter touch for spices, and this served the dish well. Third, the sauce being more broth-like meant that it seeped into the rice easily and well. In fact, the rice was very easily fully soaked by the bindalu sauce with just a few spoonfuls. Fourth, the chunks of lamb were plentiful and tender and well-seasoned (can you tell we’re gushing? 😛 ).
The final nice feature about the Sherpa Kitchen is their prices: They were inexpensive. At $8.99 per meal (this includes a drink and an appetizer), our bill came out to a whopping (just whopping, we say!) US$19.96 including tax.
Wow. Neither of us remember a comparable deal in recent (or even not-so-recent) memory.
So, overall, the Sherpa Kitchen is tasty and a great bargain. We legit wish (as the kids would say) we had a comparable restaurant in Montreal. With luck, we’ll find one. And if not, well, we’ll just have to make a point of coming back the next time we return to the Green Mountain State.
How to find the Sherpa Kitchen
Address: 119 College St, Burlington, VT 05401, USA
Phone: +1 802-881-0550