Discovering Himalaya

by Forager on May 26, 2009

A recent re-run of a Food Safari episode on Pakistani cuisine had me and the co-pilot mesmerised. We realised we’d never tried Pakistani cuisine before and took note of the restaurants featured on the program with the intention of sampling some good Pakistani fare soon.

Our chance came sooner than we thought after a fortuitous tip from a Pakistani taxi driver and a recommendation that we try Himalaya in Five Dock as that where Pakistani community in the Sydney Inner West goes to eat. That’s enough endorsement for us and with the added bonus that it’s near us it’s barely gone a week before we find ourselves pushing open the door to Himalaya Restaurant.

The weather in Sydney is awful on this night, the howling wind and rain pelting us horizontally as we walked into the restaurant. I’m hoping that this will be a rewarding experience as the lure of a warm, dry home and simple home-cooked meal also beckoned. As we take a seat we take in the simple surroundings and dated furnishings, but the fact that there are a few tables of Pakistanis enjoying their meals certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed. In my experience, the run down little hole-in-the-wall joints are usually just as they seem – absolute dives, but once in a while one we will find a place that is a definite keeper, and we we’re just about to find out that Himalaya just might be one of those rare places.

We’ve been recommended to try the haleem, a thick curry typical of the Pakistani, Northern Indian and Persian regions which isn’t actually listed on the menu. Upon the waiter’s recommendations we also order the tandoori chicken, another off-menu special of goat curry, and some tandoor-baked naans for good measure, a plain and a keema naan.

Whilst we wait for our order, we’re given some complimentary pappadams and raita, a homemade yoghurt with cucumber to start. The raita is tasty but we both taste a slightly disconcerting hint of fizzy fermentation in the raita and soon surreptitiously push it to the side. I suddenly get a sinking feeling about the rest of our meal. But at that point the tandoori chicken arrives smoking on a sizzling spitting hot plate. We are immediately enveloped in the spicy aroma clouds wafting around us and are very pleased to find the chicken tastes as good as it looks.This tandoori chicken is a spring chicken that has been marinated overnight and slow roasted in the tandoor, the traditional clay oven. As a result it’s buttery tender, comes off the bone easily and is just delicious with a mild hint of spicyness.

Just as we’re finishing the last scraps of the tandoori chicken, the haleem and the naans arrive. The haleem comes topped with green chilli, coriander, slivers of ginger and a wedge of lemon. The flavour is quite different to what we’re used to in Indian curries, but where it lacks that hit of complex fried spices, we find the light fresh flavours are a refeshing change and very enjoyable. And it isn’t short of spicyness either – the green chillies really give the dish a robust capsaicin kick. The thick, paste-like consistency also lends well to smearing across a piece of torn plain naan. The keema naan sounded like it could have been delicious with it’s stuffed mince, coriander and spice filling, but it is too bland for our tastes. Perhaps the strong flavours in the dishes we’ve tried have already overwhelmed our tastebuds?

Last to arrive is a generous plate of goat curry topped with fresh coriander and sliced ginger. We’re told it’s an onion based curry and a taste confirms that like the haleem, it’s lighter in flavour than the Indian curries we’re accustomed to. The goat itself is delicate, tender and there is no hint of any gamey mutton-like flavours that can sometimes accompany goast dishes. It’s delicious and we find ourselves finishing the plate despite it’s very generous portion size, mopping up the last juices with a swab of naan.

Satiated at the end of the meal we assess the damage. The meal has cost us under $50, we’ve got a doggy bag of goodies to take home and we’ve decided we’ll definitely be back to try it again. In my eyes I’d say it was an outing worth braving the weather for.

Himalaya Pakistani & Indian Restaurant

1/205 Great North Road, Five Dock
Tel: (02)9712 2726; Fax: (02)9712 2048
Open 7 days for dinner from 5pm – late

Foodie in the know:
The restaurant serves halal food, BYO available, free home delivery for orders over $25 within a 5km radius and 10% discount on takeaway orders over $25.

View Himalaya Pakistani & Indian Restaurant in a larger map

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lightning Dave Bolton May 26, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Apparently Faheem’s in Enmore is also very popular with sub-continental communities, and even better, it’s really close to our place.

If you’d like to compare, we could definitely do an early evening meal sometime soon!

2 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella May 26, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Isn’t it just the weather for Himalayan cuisine (although today is lovely). I love goat curry too! Have you tried the goat meat restaurant in Marrickville? It’s great and have raw goat meat (which is quite good).

3 tummyrumble May 26, 2009 at 5:02 pm

@ Lightening Dave Bolton Is Faheem’s the one on Enmore Rd that the Pakistani cricket team favours? That one is soooo good!

4 Stephcookie May 26, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Interesting, I don’t think I’ve been to a Pakistani restaurant in Sydney before. The chicken looks fantastic and I like the sound of the curries. I’m such a ginger fiend! And sometimes I find the strong spice mix in Indian curries a little too overpowering.

5 Forager May 26, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Hey LightningDB – Ah, our taxi driver told us about 2 places – Himalaya and something in Enmore. The co-pilot is keen – I think it sounds like we’ve got a plan!

Hey Lorraine – Raw goat meat? How many people eat goat meat there, what’s the turnover like and what’s the chance I get fresh raw goat meat? So many questions…

Hey tummyrumble – Woah, the Pakistani cricket team go there? Suddenly this place has increased it’s cred with my bf 5 billion times. I guess we’re going there asap now!

Hey Stephcookie – I love ginger too and if you think Indian curries are too overpowering, chances are you’ll like these versions. Saw no BOFAG or even BOG on the menu either. :)

6 Betty May 27, 2009 at 10:49 am

This looks really interesting. I’ve never tried Pakistani food, now I’m quite intrigued by the goat curry! Thanks for the review!

7 Simon May 27, 2009 at 11:49 pm

I’ve been to Fice Dock quite a lot and I’m surprised that I’ve never heard of that place before. Based on your review, I guess I might have to give it a go at some stage.

8 Forager May 28, 2009 at 10:45 am

Hey Betty – That’s what we thought. Never tried it, no expectations. Why don’t we see what it’s all about?

Hey Simon – I’m in the same boat. I live close by, drive past Great North Rd all the time and have never noticed or heard about it. Amazing what you find in your neighbourhood!

9 Lightning Dave Bolton May 29, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Yup, Faheem’s on Enmore Rd. Let’s negotiate a time and day!

Haven’t been to the goat meat restaurant yet, but hear good things about it, so could do a similar trek down there 😉

Talk soon.

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