Noted as a "fantastic addition" to the Long Beach dining scene by Gazettes Town-News, Himalayan Grill melds the culinary traditions of India, Nepal, and Tibet. Chefs observe authentic preparation standards when preparing Indian dishes, slow-roasting chicken, lamb, and shrimp in a tandoor oven. Among a quintet of "out-of-this-world, make time stop" dishes sampled by restaurant critics of the Orange County Register, lamb masala garnered particular praise as incredibly supple and "moist enough to cut with a spoon." Ginger, garlic, and curry infuse spice and heat into most entrees, whereas saffron and cardamom lend uncommon warmth and market value to desserts. Inside the dining room, low music and dim lighting create a relaxed atmosphere. Table minders elevate the comfort factor with "fast and very warm" service.
The complexity of Indian spices can be intimidating at first. Curries explode in a huge range of colors, bestowed by ginger, coriander, basil, and peppers. Cardamom pods, cloves, and bean-like tamarind look alien at first glance. Arun Puri, head chef at Royal Khyber, harnesses that intricacy, artfully folding more than 38 different herbs and spices into innovative north Indian dishes with healthy twists.
The chef, who has been lauded by publications including the Daily Pilot, uses cream, butter, and oils sparingly, instead whipping up lighter sauces and tandoori breads fortified with protein powder. As he works, mesquite charcoals blaze within an imported tandoori clay oven, grilling meat, seafood, and poultry dishes at temperatures of up to 450 degrees, hot enough to melt diamonds back into delicious carbon. Out in the dining hall, the dishes pair with fine wines and cocktails among cushy silk pillows and intricate Indian artwork.
Using traditional ingredients, Mughal Halal Tandoori has created an extensive menu of authentic Indian entrees bursting with a variety of flavors. Send taste buds down a culinary river with a range of Indian breads, including garlic naan (stuffed with freshly diced garlic, $1.50) and aloo kulcha (paratha filled with mildly spiced mashed potatoes and peas, $2.50), before docking at curry port, which is occupied by the likes of murgh makhni (butter chicken curry, $7.95) and tala ghost (lamb curry, $8.95). In addition to specialty dishes cooked in the tandoori, Mughal Halal Tandoori serves up a variety of vegetarian options, such as the bhindi masala (mildly seasoned okra, onion, ginger, and garlic, $6.95) and the bagara baigan (Indian eggplant cooked Hydrabadi style, $6.95). Cleanse a spice-soaked palate with the mango lassi, a traditional Indian drink churned with yogurt and milk and flavored with mango ($2).
Grilled chicken, shrimp, and filet mignon kebabs lie upon beds of traditional couscous at Marrakesh, a restaurant devoted to introducing diners to authentic Moroccan cuisine. Chefs assemble chicken-stuffed bastilles—a type of filo-dough pot pie covered with powdered sugar and cinnamon—and marinate morsels of lamb in a sweet honey sauce. They also send out Harira, a Moroccan soup, and three traditional Moroccan salads with every prix fixe dinner. Meals draw to a close with pieces of homemade baklava and fragrant glasses of mint tea, which aid digestion and freshen breath more pleasantly than a mouth full of soap.
The decor of Habiba Abdi’s restaurant, Gendershe Cuisine, is not ostentatious—she tries to impress the four senses besides sight. The aroma of all-halal meats marinating in signature spices tints the air, heralding Somali entrees such as the hilib ari, a goat dish that OC Weekly deemed "gamy and glorious." Mango lassis cool the tongue with a mix of almond milk, fruit pulp, orange juice, and vanilla. Pieces of bur—somali fry bread baked onsite—engage the hands, encouraging patrons to soak up lingering sauces with their dough instead of a friend's shirtsleeve. All the while, guests absorb the sizzling sounds of salmon and tilapia being sautéed in the kitchen's special "mother sauce."
Named after the Somalian city where Abdi’s father grew up, Gendershe Cuisine is an outpost of a kind of cooking rarely found in the United States, much less Orange County. Even so, Somalia’s rich culinary tradition—influenced over the years by Italy, India, and surrounding East African cultures—means that many dishes may look familiar even to the uninitiated. Crispy, triangular sambusas are relatives to indian samosas, ethiopian injera pops up beneath stews of beef, chicken, goat, or fish, and spaghetti and lasagna lie under sauces subtly spiked with Somali herbs and spices.
Spicy scents abound at Siam Palace, where chefs use traditional Thai recipes to create mouth-watering vegetarian and meat-based dishes. Stir-fried wide rice noodles form the base of pad see eew and pad kee mao, while fresh vegetables are simmered in green and red curry sauces. To create the restaurant's signature Thai-style barbecue entrees, the kitchen drenches marinated steak, shrimp, and other meats in a housemade sauce. The restaurant also provides catering and complimentary delivery to homes and offices, as well as to the occasional alternate dimension.