The Himalayas are known not just for their towering peaks, but also for the rich cultures that have grown in their shadow. The all-Himalayan culinary team at Himalayan Yak Restaurant re-creates the best dishes picked from Tibetan, Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Indian cuisines. Their menu is subdivided by region and organized to indicate which dishes are vegetarian, letting chefs highlight classic dishes such as spice-laden chicken chili or exotic yak tongue sautéed in garlic and ginger and served with Tibetan bhaley bread. Most of the dishes can be customized with a choice of meat—including goat and buffalo—or vegetables. A live band plays traditional Himalayan tunes as diners dig into their meals, creating an atmosphere that mimics the serenity of the highest mountain peaks or the feeling of meditating at the top of several glued-together zen gardens.
Inside Rani Mahal is something of a cultural adventure, with vivid Indian artwork lining watermelon-hued walls. The elegant, well-lit dining room sits visitors at white-clothed tables, where they dig into such traditional Indian dishes as lamb tikka: cubes of lamb marinated in yogurt, garlic, and spices, and roasted in a clay oven. Rani Mahal also curates a vast spread of vegetarian options, such as palak paneer, which pairs homemade cheese cubes with lightly spiced spinach gravy.
The cooks at Masala Wok specialize in flavorful, aromatic Hakka-style cuisine, blending together Indian and Chinese culinary techniques. Pan-fried dry chili chicken, Singapore-style hoisin shrimp, and golden-fried cauliflower dumplings are a few popular menu items. Patrons can order carryout or stay to eat in the casual restaurant.
After building up a restaurant empire throughout Europe and India, Parveen Malhotra assembled a team in Forest Hills to cultivate a menu of Indian cuisine that draws from regions throughout the subcontinent. Diners at Haveli can feast on lamb and chicken kababs from along the northern borders, or they can sample eseafood and shrimp curries from coastal Goa and Cochin. Dishes of Bombay bhel puri rice puffs and okra bhindi masala arrive in colorful, elegant arrangements, while an extensive list of wines and tropical martinis pair perfectly with every meal.
The restaurant’s interior evokes its namesake Haveli—a term for a mansion reserved for the upper echelons of Indian society. Crystal chandeliers cast light onto linen covered tables, white leather sofas, and table settings of crisp napkins. From the saffron-colored walls, murals of jewel-bedecked elephants parade past dinner tables, while paintings of Mughal rulers look down upon banquet spreads with stern, peckish looks.