Short Order: Himalayan Grille

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Bhatmas Sadeko

Over the past few years,Columbus has become home to thousands of ethnic Nepali refugees-the largest community of its kind in the United States-who have been forced out of the kingdom of Bhutan for political reasons. After living in refugee camps in Nepal for 20 years, some have been able to resettle, find work and build lives in the U.S. A group of these new residents have opened Himalayan Grille, serving Nepali, Tibetan and Indian foods, giving us a window into the wonderful cuisine of this mountain culture.

Should you wish to jump straight in for authentic Nepali or Tibetan fare, order Bhatmas Sadeko ($3.99), a plate with a pile of rice on one side to be mixed with the crunchy roasted soybeans, onion, tomato, garlic, herbs, lemon and hot chilies that adorn the other side of the plate. There is magic in this simple dish-it positively bursts with flavor.

Follow that with the meant-for-sharing thali, served in a veggie version or with chicken or goat. A thali is like a rijsttafel ("rice table") in Indonesian cooking-a pile of rice at the center (with or without meat) surrounded by colorful little dishes of vegetables, pickles, raita, etc. It's an excellent bargain at only $11.99 (a bit more with meat). Also worth seeking out are the Nepali dumplings called momo ($9–$10). The doughy little packets are served steamed or fried (both good) and come in chicken and vegetable versions coated with a lively red chili sauce.

There is a full bar, and the drink menu lists several special cocktails-but you don't come here for the drinks, which can sometimes be heavy on the booze and other times not heavy enough.

Instead, you might come for some of the better Indian food in town. The soupy lentil dish Dal Makhani ($9.99) is rich with butter, fragrant with spices and delicious. Garlicky and buttery naan is always a good accompaniment ($2.50). The restaurant serves fine versions of tandoori chicken or lamb ($13.99, $15.50) and more-than-decent vindaloo, korma and masala preparations. But for something outside your typical curry, try the Baingan Bharta ($10.99). Similar to baba ganoush, it's a dish of roasted eggplant with spices and, interestingly, lotus petals, which give the smoky eggplant mash a light flowery aroma.

Himalayan Grille

1307 Stoneridge Dr., Gahanna,