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Taste of Nepal

Christopher Gardner

Mountain Grown: Himalayan meatless fare is served at Kathmandu.

At Kathmandu West, exotic spices turn simple vegetable dishes into heavenly feasts

By Judi Blackwell

LOCATED WITHIN the generic anonymity of a mild-mannered suburban mall, Kathmandu West presents an oasis of intriguing flavors for those who would explore Nepalese cuisine. Pink tablecloths top the tables at this tiny, aromatic Cupertino restaurant, where an abundant array of exotic spices make simple vegetable dishes heavenly feasts.

As we learned on a recent evening visit, Kathmandu West's menu boasts a dozen hard-to-pronounce dishes--aloo tama bodi, palungo ko sag, bhanta tareko--and such Nepalese favorites as daal, roti and various bean and potato dishes.

For starters, the daal ko suruwa, a hearty lentil soup, is the way to go ($2.95). Spiced with cilantro, this creamy concoction gets the meal off on the right taste bud. Choosing an entree is a little more difficult, but we decided on aloo kauli, a simple potato and cauliflower dish highlighted by a high dosage of cumin. Another entree, gundruk, proved much more adventuresome ($7.95). Slices of potatoes, sun-dried cabbage, whole garlic, green pepper, onion and tomato floated about in a thin tomato sauce. Although overly abundant on the cabbage side and lacking in garlic, the vegetables contrasted nicely with the accompanying sweet sauce.

A meal in itself, the basic staple of Nepalese cuisine is daal, and no diner can explore Kathmandu West without sampling this thick, spice-laden lentil dish. Served with rice, it's the classic accompaniment to any Nepali meal. Though everything is quite simply prepared, Kathmandu West is worth a trek--if not to the Himalayas, then at least to Cupertino. The restaurant is located at 20916 Homestead Road (408/996-0940) and is open daily, 11am­2pm and 5­10pm.

Send tips to Vegging Out at 550 S. First St., San Jose, 95113.

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From the August 22-28, 1996 issue of Metro

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