It is always wonderful to discover a new, exotic place to eat. Saipan's Everest Kitchen makes the discovery more memorable. I had the opportunity to stop by here one afternoon and was delighted to have my friend, Chef Gabriele Colombo, join me for a late lunch. It was his first time here as well, although he knew the family operating this restaurant. When we arrived there was a large table of regular customers sitting near the buffet line (Everest Kitchen offer a daily lunch buffet for $12.00). I had heard a little about Everest Kitchen as one of the healthier food establishments on Saipan. In fact, they were the first to be honored as a participant in the BIBA CNMI Healthy Restaurant Program!
As it was a little late, we decided to order a la carte. The buffet did have a large selection of Mediterranean dishes, however some items were depleted. We'll have to come back earlier as some of the regulars were praising some of the dishes served, especially a fish dish! Everest Kitchen's menu is as exotic and wide-ranging as some of the artistic images from owner Laxmi Shrestha's native Nepal. The menu is colorful with brightly appealing food images and the verbiage describing each item is bursting with healthy deliciousness. Now this is going to be a "guilt-free" dining experience!
We ordered a few appetizer selections (after I had placed my order for a small strawberry Laasi ($4.95), including the Samosa (2 pc for $4.25), the Hummus Platter ($5.95), Fresh Spring Roll ($4.50), and Everest Platter ($8.95). Each of these has a little green sprout circle indicating that they are vegetarian. We talked with Laxmi about other items she recommend we try and decided on one of her specialties, the Lamb Curry ($12.50). While sitting I perused the menu more and noticed a section on Nepalese favorites such as Chicken Shislik Set (Skewered boneless chicken and vegetables grilled over charcoals) and a few other items like the Momo Nepali (dumplings tossed in a light sweet and sour sauce with bell peppers and onions)! Gotta try this side of the menu on future visits.
The Hummus and Pita bread we had was excellent! Made with chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil, this is one of the best foods you can eat nutritionally! Unintentionally we may have doubled up on this since the Everest Platter has hummus as well, along with Babaganush (grilled eggplant dip - 3 flavors available: Tahini & Garlic, Garlic & Lemon, and Yogurt); and falafels, mixed salad, feta cheese and pickles, with more Pita Bread. All was enjoyably consumed!
I was looking forward to the Fresh Spring Rolls, as these have julienned carrots, cucumber, tofu & egg wrapped in a rice flour wrap and served with Everest's home made peanut dipping sauce. These were screaming healthiness! Cool, refreshing, with a crisp natural texture from fresh vegetables...and complimented by a slightly spicy but richly flavored peanut sauce. These I could eat every day and be happy! Laxmi would come out with each dish she was preparing and we were also helped by her husband, Chola B. Gharti. Laxmi was so proud of her creations...and pleased to see us eating so heartily.
Then came the Samosa (it takes longer to cook). It is a homemade pastry filled with warm potato, peas, and spices with cilantro. The pastry crust is amazing - so crisp and rich tasting, and thick - It would make the best pie crust!
We were beginning to fill up and still had the curry on its way. When it came, I caught some of the aroma and that stimulated my taste buds to action. This was appealingly presented with fresh cilantro on top of the rich thick curry sauce and a bowl of fresh made yogurt was served. We each had a little rice with our curry and ate through the salad.
While we were working our way through the Lamb Curry (which definitely merits praise-really tender and tasty), Laxmi said we must try her Dal Bhat soup, which is a homemade Lentils soup. Yes, this was splendid and we were definitely getting fuller. Last to come was another traditional Nepalese treat - Nepali Chiya ($2.50). This is Chai (delicious hot and milky cinnamon flavored tea). It was able to help soothe and relax the belly after all the food we'd consumed.
Everest Kitchen has a moderate selection of Smoothies, Juices and Drinks, including the Lassi, Super Juice, Detox juice, and Everest Spice (that has melon, yogurt, oatmeal, cinnamon, dates, almonds, and banana), and a few more.
What a great place for dining during lunch and dinner! The artwork and paintings depict a land and culture different than Saipan. It is definitely an intriguing ambiance that sets the perfect background for your dining experience.
I am looking forward to my return some day when I am in Saipan . I want to be a regular at Everest Kitchen!