A sleek, black elephant statue overlooks the dining room, its trunk raised in a silent trumpet of approval, or perhaps to catch whiffs of the fragrant Indian, Tibetan, and Indo-Nepalese foods filing out from the kitchen. Inside, surrounded by traditional tandoori clay ovens and simmering pots of lentils, a chef backed by 20 years of experience imbues each dish with a blend of traditional spices. He stuffs flaky, savory pastries known as chaat with beans, yogurt, and chutneys, and sprinkles pinches of curry powder into pans of lamb and vegetables. During lunchtime, waiters ferry massive trays of the chef's eats to the buffet, where diners can load plates with enough vegetable masala to make a perfect sauce-angel.
Bombay Bowl's owner, Amar, says he "grew up in an East Indian kitchen," where he attentively learned his family's generations-old knowledge of the region's aromatic and salutary spices. Although his menu features the familiar combinations of turmeric, ginger, and coriander, he set out to infuse his Indian cuisine with a casual, health-conscious environment. The cooks eschew trans fats, artificial flavorings, and schnozberries, seeking out all-natural beef and chicken, chopping vibrant vegetables, and baking fresh naan over their kitchen's campfires instead. With these ingredients, diners can customize their own bowl of long-grain basmati rice, choosing from five meaty or vegetarian fillings, four sauces, and four chutneys. The chefs also whip up gluten-free and vegan options, accommodating virtually any diet.
Chefs at Little India's four locations infuse authentic Indian dishes with fresh and exotic ingredients, earning Top of the Town awards from 5280 magazine for "a decade running." The culinary creatives concoct a taste-bud-tempting lot of specialty dishes, from the butter chicken to the super-hot lamb madras, which makes taste buds sweat with scantily clad seasonings. Vegetarians can spoon a kaleidoscope of meat-free dishes, including the dahl makhani, lentils cooked with tomato and savory spices. Guests sip mood-enhancing beverages from the bar, and the friendly wait staff places plated Indian delicacies and unplated charades suggestions at their fingertips.:m]]
Though the interior of the Sherpa House Restaurant is fragrant with the smells of naan bread and spiced curries, this tantalizing cuisine is only part of the eatery's allure. The space itself functions something like a museum, except that visitors can actually take a seat and speak above a whisper. Built as a reproduction of a traditional Sherpa house in Nepal, the restaurant seats diners in a family room with a kitchen, in a buffet room beneath a thatched roof, or on a patio perched beneath waving flags. A shrine room, photo gallery, and museum room with traditional artifacts afford more in-depth peeks at the rich culture and history of the Sherpa people, who are widely known for their mountaineering skills.
Behind the scenes, chefs work carefully to make sure that their entrees accurately capture the seasonings and healthfulness that Nepal's cuisine is known for. Cumin, garlic, tomatoes, and ginger spice up pieces of beef, lamb, whitefish, and yak. Naan bread, which they bake in a clay oven and cool on a windowsill atop Mount Everest, soaks up savory pools of curry, stew, and daal bhat. Desserts include kheer, a Nepali rice pudding, and sweet lassi, a drink blended with yogurt, rose water, and sugar.