With an insatiable thirst for travel but a life that doesn’t permit The Monster to be the wandering minstrel he may fancy himself, finding new adventures in eating oft proves a happy substitute. Enter Tara’s Himalayan. In a nondescript storefront on Venice Boulevard (there is a Woodland Hills branch as well), walking into this restaurant may not be quite the same as a trip to India and Nepal, but a Monster’s got to do what a Monster’s got to do.
With a small parking lot in the back (a savior as this area can be tough to find a spot), this is a festively festooned dive with traditional music piped in, friendly (albeit sometimes slow) service, a front patio to eat al fresco and cuisine that many will find familiar (Indian/Chinese flourishes) though similarly unique.
You start off with complimentary papadum (commonly referred to as papad in Northern India) which is a thin, crisp cracker accompanied by a pumpkin, yam, tomato chutney that The Monster could eat for days.
The adventurous (read: meat eaters) among you may be immediately drawn to the Sherpa stew with yak or the yak chili (so called not because it resembles traditional chili but because it is prepared with chilies). The less adventurous may find themselves ordering the Indian items they’d encounter on any delivery menu – chicken tikka masala, shrimp curry or saag aloo.
The Monster settles somewhere between. Momo’s (either vegetarian or chicken) are a dumpling appetizer that are round, white flour filled starters common to this region. The momo’s at Tara’s are a nice introduction to the cuisine though the accompanying sauce could benefit from being a bit more flavorful. But, as resourceful eaters you’ve already asked for a refill on the chutney and voila, these momo’s become a melt in your mouth introduction to the meal.
A trip to Tara’s should always include an order of chicken sekuwa. Essentially a skewered chicken marinated in a blend of vegetables (here tomato, onion and broccoli) and Himalayan herbs and spices. This is an addictive grilled chicken dish bursting with flavor. A squeeze of lemon over the top of the still sizzling entrée and a ravenous group (or one ravenous Monster) will put this down in no time.
Chow Chow are Chinese style noodles with stir-fried strips of chicken, ginger, garlic and Himalayan spices. If Himalayans had spaghetti and meatballs this would be it. Tara’s can go crazy on the heat index which The Monster loves. But for those of you with weaker constitutions (and stomachs) be sure to mention how spicy you’d like your meals.
The vegetable accompaniments have all been nice renditions of commonly seen sides if you frequent Indian restaurants.
Desserts however veer to the less familiar. Kheer is basmati rice simmered in milk with cardamom and cinnamon and topped with shredded coconut. Gulab jumun are sweet custard balls of milk and cream dipped in sugar water. While not a dessert maven, The Monster found both to be a try them once and move on experience.
If all this isn’t enough to make Tara’s a very attractive casual meal choice, Tara herself has vowed that ten percent of all profits go to helping build schools in her native land. A good meal you can feel good about!
Why go? Climbing the Himalayas sounds fun until you have to get off the couch.
Monster rating: 4/5 Monsters
10855 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034