I admit. I came to Madison with a bad foodie attitude. The relative lack of cultural diversity compared to Texas and D.C. made me not want to seek out restaurants in town. I replaced going out to eat in Madison with eating out on my weekly business trips to either St. Louis or Tucson. When I was in town, I grudgingly bought boring groceries and cooked at home. Copps and even Metcalfe's pale in comparison to HEB and Central Market in Austin. I used to relish in grocery shopping. In Madison, I find moldy jalapenos next to tiny avocados that sell for more than $1.50. I became uninspired by the sudden change in weather, job (which was a nightmare, by the way), local cuisine, and produce.
Recently, I quit the horrendous job that caused me to move to Madison in the first place and started an amazing new job. My colleagues are well-traveled, many are multi-lingual and have sophisticated and varied palates. My outlook on life in Madison is starting to change, and with the help of my colleagues and Yelp, I will hunt down awesome eateries around town and be inspired to cook with what I can find at the grocery stores and farmer's markets!
Stephanie, a new friend, colleague, and fellow foodie/food blogger, works remotely from Tampa but plans on touching base in Madison once a month. We came up with a plan to try out at least one unique local eatery every time she comes up. We celebrated our first restaurant tasting yesterday at Himal Chuli, a Nepalese restaurant close to the University of Wisconsin campus.
I've only gotten a taste of Nepalese food once when a Nepalese grad school friend shared some homemade momos with me. I've longed to try out more Nepalese food as the memory of the tumeric-seasoned momos stayed with me over the years. Lo and behold, Madison has a couple of Nepalese restaurants!
We picked Himal Chuli for the higher Yelp reviews, and I was pretty happy with my experience (though my Nepalese friend's momos were still way better)!
I don't think Himal Chuli's chicken and turkey-filled momos are seasoned with tumeric like my friend's, but it's dressed with a tomato and coriander sauce, which made the dumplings taste tangy and smokey. Stephanie ordered the vegetarian momocha, which has peanut paste as the filling binder.
Chicken and Turkey Momos
As good as the momos were, I was most excited about going beyond the one dish that I knew was Nepalese. I opted for the roti and cauliflower takari. My knowledge of South Asian and Himalayan cuisines is extremely limited, but based on the little exposure to Indian and Nepalese food, it seems like Himal Chuli's dishes taste like a lighter (no ghee?) version of comparable Indian dishes. The cauliflower takari was comforting and well-portioned. I liked the option of squeezing lime juice on the dish to cut through the heartiness of the dish. The whole wheat roti is awesome - fluffy, slightly buttery, and thick. I couldn't finish my last slice of roti but was still sad that my boyfriend helped me finish it off.
Roti and Cauliflower Takari
Himal Chuli was a great way to finally kickstart my Madison food adventure! And now that my job doesn't require me to work 60 hours/week, I no longer have an excuse to not blog!
- Food Dilettante