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Hidden gems would be the most accurate way to describe some of the hole-in-the-wall eateries of Kaimuki. Himalayan Kitchen, however, is among the diamonds in this old town, bringing the spices and ethnic flavors of Nepal to the islands.
Himalayan food found nowhere else in Hawaii.
I’m writing this post with a stomach full of naan, curry and noodles. We just enjoyed a delectable dinner at Himalayan Kitchen, which has no doubt climbed to the top of favorite places to eat around town. It’s a short walk up some stairs before customers find themselves entranced by the lovely Nepali-style decor. An outdoor lanai shaded with umbrellas and lit by candles makes for a pretty romantic setting. Adjacent to that, a colorful room of lavish hues that appear almost regal at first glance. The main dining area includes a dimly-lit room near the kitchen’s tantalizing aromas that waft in the air.
I’ve always been one to admire the interior design of places. My friends, on the other hand, usually bypass the elaborate details and colors to eagerly put in their order of naan. Naan is a flatbread that comes straight from the tandoori oven of this restaurant; it can be found throughout the world. Judging by the naan I’ve tried in Hawaii, Himalayan has THE best. Soft yet crispy and usually enough for two people to take turns pulling apart as an appetizer. As for main dishes, our usual order has become the chicken madras curry (Chef’s Spicy Favorite) and the chicken chow chow (a spicy noodle dish on a bed of lettuce, mixed with chicken and a side of their special yogurt sauce). If you’re a wimp like me, you will be sure to ask for the mild versions! If it’s busy, then be prepared to wait. During the less crowded times, we’ve gotten our food within 20 minutes of ordering, but if it’s packed, then you may wait up to 45 minutes. I’m guessing it’s because the husband-wife duo only have a small staff of servers.
Although the decor sounds fancy, it’s still casual enough for customers to wear flip flops and shorts. The prices are a little on the higher end; for example, the previously-mentioned dishes are both about $14 each. The plain naan is about $3 but can be as much as $8, depending on the type of naan you order. Overall, the portions are generous and enough for two people. One downfall is the parking situation. Don’t get discouraged by the busy municipal lot below, which gets crowded around dinner time. I promise it’ll be worth this peaceful escape into the Himalayan Mountains!
HIMILAYAN KITCHEN • 1137 11th Ave., Honolulu, HI 96816 • Opens Mon, Sat-Sun 530-10pm, Tue-Fri 11am-2pm, 530-10pm • 808-735-1122