Saturday, 26 January 2013

Himalayan Cafe

So I have a terrible sense of direction and so does my Boyfriend. I distrust buses because they go in a billion different directions. I'm also always strapped for time, with heading to work and getting home before dark before I turn into an ogre. This makes it very difficult for us to find somewhere new to go to, cause we don't know where we're going, I pick the wrong bus and by the time we get there and then its time for me to go home/work.

I've never been to New Farm, except that time I went there with H., to go to Cirque after work. I know there is an absolute shit ton of restaurants I want to go to in New Farm, the Smoke BBQ, Anise, Pablo and Ponycat, just to mention a few. If I somehow knew how to get there, I'd have a whole new area to explore.

West End is getting stale for me since I've been constantly going there for the last five months. That was also sort of the solution to my plans. The wonderful 199 bus to West End, on the way out heads to Teneriffe Ferry/the Valley/New Farm. Genius. I had no idea where I really wanted to go to, but I figured according to Urbanspoon maps, I could just wander up the main strip and choose whatevers.

We stopped somewhere in Brunswick Street near Shlix, where we also ended up going for dessert afterwards. We were super hungry, or at least I was, I couldn't decide where I wanted to go, everywhere smelt good, and I wanted to eat everything. I wanted to originally try some sort of Nepalese food, but I knew there was an Indonesian place, an American place, it was right near Fortitude Valley where a shit ton of Asian restaurants were. I chose Himalayan Cafe cause it was crazy ass full, like only two tables were empty and I couldn't take an interior shot without taking pictures of like 15 random people.

To avoid awkwardness, he pretended to take a photo of me
We had to wait a while before anyone noticed it but after that we were ushered outside and sat in one of the last tables. Inside was super noisy and full of communal dining tables, the decorations were gorgeous and I really wish I had the time to go back and take more photos because its beautiful really.

I would keptomanically take this
May positive forces be with every single living thing that exists
It was the same outside too, there were these really cool swirly silver lanterns and a heap of prayer flags above us. My Boyfriend also noticed this quote that he said reminded him of a universal form of, May the Force be with you.

We got some interesting looking cutlery, they have little ridged scallops pressed into the handles. They don't show up too well in the photos, but the added detail makes them feel odd in your hands.

Here is the menu, some of it is missing. I forgot to get pictures since I remembered they were already taken.

He got a lemonade, turned out to be a bitter sweet lemonade from Phoenix Soda. There was a note that it was meant to be bitter sweet like home made lemonade but the bitterness reminded me of soda water.

Real mature.
On the other hand, I got dared to ordered the salted butter tea. Challenge accepted.

The waitress was very impressed when she heard our order. I did a brief google and apparently its a traditional tea made with lots of yak butter, for the high energy rich, nutritional content of butter and to restore chapped lips in freezing temperatures. You start the day by drinking large amounts of this and if you're at someone's house, the way you're supposed to drink it is a sip at a time and then the host refills your cup after each sip. Its also supposed to have a very distinctive flavour, with one of the mostly commonly used phrases being, "rancid or pungent." This blog I read summed it up nicely. A lot of websites were also saying that it wasn't uncommon for Western palates to be completely thrown off by the taste.

Metal+boiling water = burns

Looks unthreatening enough
When we were staring at the teapot, the waitress gave us this askance look and asked us if we had the drink before. When we said no, she gave this sort of embarrassed laugh and said that we probably wouldn't like it.

The tea tasted like a milky green tea, with a distinct creamy buttery flavour. It had a particular astringency to the flavour, I think that's why I'm thinking green tea, but they probably used a black tea, so maybe I'm thinking of a mix between the two or the fermented taste of pu-erh? Either way, I had a lot more of the tea, but my Boyfriend adds that it was my tea, so he didn't have much of it as he have liked.

We're eating this.

Not this.
I wanted an entrĂ©e, so we got the momo meat dumplings. He was making dodgy nerd jokes about it saying, NO NOT MOMO. These looked handmade, very noticeably so, with them all being various shapes and sized, but if you squint they were all vaguely pleated, lumpy and crescent shaped. There were six arranged around a mild curry dipping sauce.

Hmm the verdict is out
I'm unsure of these dumplings, having always grown up with wafer thin yum cha style dumplings. The dumpling skin was very thick, chewy and doughy. There was a spiced beef mince filling, it smelt familiar but I couldn't place the spices. They were pleasant though.

You don't make friends with salad
He ordered the manau khayala, boiled chicken marinated sesame, ginger and garlic paste with lemon juice on a plate of salad. I couldn't even taste these flavours at all and to me it was just boiled chicken. He agrees with me and couldn't taste any additional flavours in the chicken either. The salad was composed of lettuce leaves, skinless tomato, cucumber, coriander and carrot sticks. I didn't see the point of ordering salad at a restaurant, the price doesn't match with the effort involved. Although they did put a rose made out of tomato skin on the top of the dish. I can't do that but I've never tried before, so who knows?

On the other hand, I got the bakhara Himalayan, a slow cooked goat curry with a ginger and garlic paste, several other special spices that aren't mentioned as well as pumpkin and potato pieces and jasmine rice. It took a good half hour for this to arrive and my Boyfriend patiently waited despite me harassing him to eat his salad before it got warm.

I took like five blurry pictures, damn steam rising
It was a pretty attractive dish for a curry, with thick glossy sauce and large chunks of meat there. Although there wasn't much of an aroma to it. The meat was very tender, you poked it with a knife and it fell apart. The sauce was quite spicy with a mild additional burn to the sauce after every mouthful, my nose was watering but my Boyfriend disagreed and said it was just right. The potato and pumpkin were ignored.

I didn't particularly like it though, although my Boyfriend thought I did. I had a bit of heart burn afterwards until we got home and I also got a mild bout of food poisoning afterwards.

Himalayan Cafe
Atmosphere: 9, I really liked it, I like crowded places though and the decorations were lovely. 6 1/2 from my Boyfriend as he felt it was too crowded and if we had been sitting inside, we would've almost been sitting on top of other people.
Service: 5. They didn't notice us at all in the beginning, there's wasn't really a clear spot to stand so you be seated. So we were standing at the front desk for about 10 minutes before I got waitresses attention. After that though, we were seated, got our menus, offered drinks and ordered reasonably quickly. They were very quick to clear tables and seemed very friendly.
Food: 6, things were well made, but didn't match my palate, hence my low score. My Boyfriend gives it a 7, he adds the food was interesting.

 Himalayan Cafe on Urbanspoon

I'll leave the Shlix review for another time, its probably more of a quick RJIE than anything else.

Also here's a book review!

This is the cover we have in Australia. Pretty
At the moment I've just finished read The Red Knight by Miles Cameron, first in the Traitor's Son trilogy. The Red Knight is a heavy fantasy story about an unnamed mercenary group of nasty men and women who get the job done. Nasty doesn't even begin to cover it, considering one of the passages in the book while the town is under siege describes them in no plain terms, as the kind of women raping, town burning pillagers that are only called heroes because they've been hired by the town in question.

They fight against the Wild, a fractious group of demons, wyverns, treants and other nasty beasts keen to destroy mankind unless regularly pushed back. They are lead by a man known only as the Red Knight or to his friends or underlings as the Captain. Young, brilliant, nobly born, well trained and with the luck of the devil himself. The Captain is charming, brash and fights like a cornered demon. He's also been bought up to be a fucking powerful mage and his family is shady as fuck.

The plot starts off with the group being hired to investigate the death of a nun in an attack from the Wild by a powerful Abbess. They get attacked by a wyvern, discovered the nun was a witch and killed with an arrow of witch bane, the only legitimate thing to nullify a mage's power, then shit goes crazy.

The world building is intricate with mystery lurking around every corner and the plot unfolds very smoothly to reveal new plot twists and characters. It really leaves you guessing and throws quite a few red herrings in your face when you're trying to figure out a mystery such as who the traitor is or what is so mysterious about the Captain's past that he's killed before to keep it a secret. I really like the characters in this book, even the villains.

They're all complex, immensely likeable and easy to relate to, even when they're full of huge amounts of wangst, they're mentally bashing themselves for being so pathetic, looking at you Captain. Bad Tom is a riot to read about, a six foot five, or is it six? Tall hill man who happily kills anything and anyone the Captain points him towards. Bad Tom has several fantastic scenes including one where he fights the current master of arms and almost gets them both killed, only to burst out laughing and say "I like you, you mad bastard." Bad Tom also goes into a massive pout when the Captain kill steals an ogre from him. The Queen is a sharp minded super hottie who acts like a dumb skank, her first scene has her lounging around naked admiring herself. Later on she masterminds the supply of the entire North war.

Occasionally the view points swap around from person to person, my favourite being the passages from the golden bear, the different perspectives are intriguing. The magic system is interesting but not really well explored I think, Phantasms are what they're called and they're all set up in "workings", you need to know a working to use magic. These workings are all in storage place in your mind that you shape into an immense building. Its being highly touted around the internets as a very good first novel.

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