Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Himalayan House

1522 East Fort Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21230-5218
(410) 528-1271

Visited: February 27, 2010

Okay, so I must first talk about the employees and service. Top top top top notch and everyone there gets 5 stars for being such nice people. Unfortunately being such nice people doesn't make up for their food and makes this review even harder to write.

The boss lady, two monkeys and I were all in the historical Locust Point neighborhood when hunger set in. It a bit past 1pm and we were all starvin' and planning on making another trip out to Chaps Pit Beef to take advantage of being in a nearby neighborhood. When we asked the person whom we were visiting about Himalayan House (prompted by driving by and seeing the quaint little store), we were told, "It's the BEST Indian food I've ever had."

Okay, with such a statement the whole plan to visit Chaps willfully and magically vanished. Our pit beef craving was replaced by the thought of warm delicious Indian food goodness. We said goodbye to our buddy, parked the car and headed into Himalayan House to check out this place for ourselves.

Before stepping inside, a small sign hung on the door that read, "Only two children allowed inside at once.."

How odd...they limit the number of kids that can be inside? Interesting... I thought that this sign would mean that kids were not allowed and that the employees would look down upon us "breeders" for bringing our monkeys to their establishment.

That my friends was NOT the case. All the employees smiled as we walked in and even greeted our two boys like little VIPs. They waved, said hello and even switched into an Indian accented baby talk to entertain our boys.

The front of Himalayan House and most of the walls serve as the neighborhood convenience store selling everything from cigarettes, ketchup to paper plates. In the middle of the store two unassuming small tables are set up where people dining in can sit. We made our way to one of the free tables and sat down to decide on what we would order for lunch.

For a dining establishment that's also a convenience store, the menu was quite impressive. We decided on a some Chicken Tikka Masala and an order of Garlic Naan and Paratha stuffed with onions. As soon as we ordered, the kitchen that was behind us blazed to life as the chef began preparing our food. The man was a machine, quickly working away and getting all the ingredients ready to become our lunch.

We waited with much anticipation as we could see the chef cook everything fresh and from scratch. In the meantime, our boys began exploring the various shelves within the Himalayan House finally making me understand why they had a "2 child only" policy for their small store. It seemed a constant struggle with the monkeys to keep the merchandise on the shelves and to prevent our boys from turning the place upside down.

We in NO way blame Himalayan House, as the boys were a bit wild due to hunger and finally being free after being strapped their car seats for almost an hour. Right when the boys were about to reach the peak of their mischievousness, the food arrived and their attention was caught by a tall steaming platter of Basmati rice. Soon our monkeys were chanting "Wice! Wice! Wice!" while they pointed to the plate full of carb filled goodness.

As the rice was set down on the table, both boys dove in with their spoons jamming still hot rice into their little mouths...and then recoiling from the heat. Next, the plate of Chicken Tikka Masala was set down along with the freshly made orders of Garlic Naan and Onion stuffed Paratha. The Naan and Paratha smelled amazing and all sorts of wonderful smells filled the air as we began serving the boys and ourselves.

The Chicken Tikka Masala looked amazing and had a generous helping of that beautiful orange yogurt sauce that drown the pieces of chicken. Ripping off some of the Garlic Naan I dipped it into the Chicken Tikka sauce and enjoyed the bold garlic flavor of the bread, but wasn't "wowed" by the spices and flavor of the sauce. Next I tasted the chicken itself and although the breast meat was cooked to perfection (and not dry), again I as left wanting that slap-in-the-face of flavors I get when eating Indian food.

The flavor of our dish seemed "safe" almost as if they were too scared to cook the Chicken Tikka Masala with too many spices. The rice was delicious and our boys actually enjoyed eating generous portions covered with the Chicken Tikka sauce.

Although a bit disappointed, we continued to eat our meal and did not finish our entire order. We doggie bagged the leftovers, packed up our stuff and apologized to the staff for leaving such a HUGE mess of rice on the floor (courtesy of our monkeys learning to use spoons). Paying the bill I asked the wife what she thought, who agree that the food was simply "meh".

The service and people were great, but the food just needed a little bit more "umph" to make it a truly delicious experience. The whole trip home, I could not help but think of Kohinoor Dhaba and how the amazingly delicious their food's unfair to compare any place to KD. But I digress...

Will I return to The Himalayan House? Probably not as any future visit to B-more will have me stuffing my face with Pitt Beef, crabs or oysters. But as other people will tell you, the staff there are truly truly dedicated to great customer service and should be commended on being such nice people.

Himalayan House on Urbanspoon

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