Actually, “poundin’ ” is a lie. In fact, it’s as far from the truth as a truth about beer drinking can get.
Because when you drink beer with Rajan O. Dhungana, you do everything but pound. You sip. You savor. You discuss and you analyze. And while all of this is going on, there’s a fair amount of contemplation as well. Not contemplation in the “how drunk am I getting?” sense, but lots of thought about natural yeasts, bottle conditioning, triple fermentation, sediments and other sexy suds stuff.
Rajan (think Ragin’ — in name only) stopped by ELV’s office last week for a beer tasting — courtesy of BMC Importers — to fill us in on the plethora, panoply and proliferation of fine suds that continue to invade the U.S. of A. He and his company are the one’s responsible for the interesting (if expensive) Italian beers that are now showing up at Settebello, Carnevino, and other top shelf restaurants around town.
After a thoughtful discussion with ROD over half a dozen artisanal beers from Italy, Holland, Belgium and Britain, we hightailed it to Himalayan Cuisine — a minimalist restaurant in every sense of the word — for the maximum flavors of Tibet and Nepal — two countries separated only by mountain ranges and lots of feuding with China. Rajan used to manage the place and put together a beer and ale menu that almost no restaurant in town can touch. He also showed up to help us out with the food.
Not as splashy as Freakin’ Frog’s or as flashy as Yard House’s; Himalayan’s beer list runs the gamut from the obscure to the unexpectedly delicious. Norwegian Nogne? No problem. Hitachino Milk Stout? Why not? Some of these you’ve no doubt heard of (or tasted), like Piraat, but ELV and his staff would bet a barley row you’ve never poured a Konings hoeven Tripel, or a Petrus Aged Pale…
Aside from the amazing beer list, what Himalayan also has Giri (the chef). Giri exudes that beatific glow of someone who actually walks the Buddhist walk. He puts his hands together when you meet and bows slightly….and then scurries back to his kitchen. He’s obviously shy and unsure of his English, but his food is as assertive in all the right ways.
ELV doesn’t pretend to know the first thing about Nepalese and Tibetan chow, but he can say the stews and sauces seem richer, creamier, and possessed of a deep, slowly spreading, back-of-the-palate heat that (generic) Indian food skirts in favor of sharper, frontal flavors. No Indian restaurant, however, has anything to compete with momos — the pork turkey-filled dumplings that start every Tibetan feast. We must have downed a dozen of the little darlings, and could’ve eaten more. The mango chicken was also a winner — at once creamy, rich and sparkling with heat and fruit flavors, and we found no fault with the deep fried shrimp (in Tibet?) or the well-seasoned, skewered lamb either.
But back to the brews. They’re a world tour waiting to happen, and the amalgam of styles seems to perfectly fit the complexity and spiciness of this cuisine….something Rajan knew all along, and yours truly is just learning to appreciate.
Dinner for two with several bottles of interesting, artisanal beers, will run around $50-60. The lunch buffet is a steal….but ordering the Nepalese and Tibetan specialities a la carte (along with some oddball brews) is what you come here for.
730 East Flamingo Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89119