The scents of saffron, cinnamon, and coriander lure diners into Shangri-La, where cooks fashion south-Asian fare from housemade yogurt and organic, locally grown produce. Inside a tandoori clay oven, red-hot coals seal in the flavors of traditional naan bread, jumbo shrimp, tender lamb chops, and marinated chicken breasts while sloughing off fat and cholesterol. The kitchen also specializes in Nepalese dishes such as cho-e-la, a boneless duck hugged with herbs and kissed by the tandoori oven’s flames. Handcrafted desserts such as ice cream and rice pudding pair sweetness with smoothness, like a jazz record manufactured from hard candy.
Nestled inside the northwest quadrant of Washington DC, this neighborhood gem houses an atmosphere swirling with pleasantries and pixie dust. Attentive servers promptly deliver well-portioned plates like devastating rhymes in a rap battle. Menu options lean toward the Indian side of the edible fence with an infusion of American flair in their preparation.
As guests step past the pink silk curtains that hang in the entryway, the first thing they notice is the unmistakable aroma of charcoal. The source is the restaurant's clay tandoor, where chicken and fish cop grill flavoring that completes their yogurt, herb, and spice marinades. Like an all-in-one print/fax/clone-an-army machine, this clay oven can handle multiple tasks at once, as it also yields such fresh-baked breads as the potato-and-pea-stuffed aloo paratha. Diners feast on these dishes at tables covered in white linens in a dining room that stretches back to a full bar.
At both of Himalayan Heritage’s locations, chefs pull marinated chicken and lamb from charcoal clay ovens. The tandoori dishes are a staple of Indian cuisine, but Indian is only half the story here. Much of the menu is dedicated to Nepalese food, which, as Tom Sietsema explains in his glowing Washington Post review, is similar, but not the same. For an introduction, he recommends the momo—dumplings made of spiced minced chicken or vegetables that are steamed inside flour dough and served with aachar or chutney sauce.
Diners enjoy their meals at white-linen covered tables in a dining room with bright orange walls and a golden ceiling from which intricate lanterns hang. The space is flush with cultural artwork, including a large thangka painting that acts as a blimp in an emergency if you add enough balloons.