Strop has been banging on about going to Sherpa Kitchen ever since our Feej excursion. She has a friend with a 25% discount voucher and the whole thing is turning into a bit of a jolly ex-zoo works outing. But there is a last minute cock-up on the catering front. Strop gets a phone call from Bev, the owner of the voucher, just before we are due to go into the Dendy to see a pre-dinner flick (The Way Way Back – enjoyable little coming-of-age film with Sam Rockwell and our very own Toni Collette. 3.5 stars). Apparently Bev, and John (of Atom Thai fame) are moving house today and the el-cheapo moving van hasn’t shown up yet (this is at 4:30). So our party is reduced by 30% and our bill is back to 100%.
Sherpa Kitchen has been around for a while (at least since the last pass by the Google Streetview cam-car) but we have never eaten there before. Nepali food sounds exotic but not necessarily enticing, and the name Sherpa Kitchen, conjures up images of 1950s climbers huddled around spirit stoves, cooking the Himalayan equivalent of a guinea pig. Turns out it is not like the inside of a snow tent at all, it is in fact warmly welcoming on a cold winters night and smells deliciously of curry. There is a huge photo-mural of sun kissed mountains (presumably the Himalayas) across one wall, and it is really a little bit posh. Strop and I have brought along some beers but we are informed it is not that kind of place – they have standards, and a wine list. We meekly shove our six-pack back into Strop’s handbag, order a couple of Tigers, and check out the menu while we wait for Camilla and Tim. Strop is disappointed to find that fermented yak butter doesn’t feature.
The restaurant is popular, not full at this stage, but there are a number of large tables getting stuck into the modern Nepali cuisine. The next table to ours is packed with a distinctly Nepali looking extended family which has to be a good indicator of things to come. Worryingly though, another table is full of large men who are prone to breaking into song at the least provocation. At least they have good voices – must be the choir’s big night out.
Camilla and Tim arrive in a flurry of coats and scarves. Kisses are exchanged, hands shaken, drinks poured, food ordered and nattering commenced – all in fairly short order. Camilla and Tim are young refugees from that sinking economic entity known as the old country, and are out here making wonderful new lives for themselves in God’s Own. They are a welcome addtion. Camilla is one of those effortlessly warm and charming people who make the rest of humanity seem like a bunch of grouches by comparison. Tim is a doctor who spends all his time ministering to sick Aussies and his spare time studying for his upcoming specialisation exams. This is a rare night off for him so the pressure is on us to be entertaining and diverting. We, of course, begin by asking him all about his work and his exams.
Modern Nepali cuisine turns out to be a bit like a cross between Indian and Chinese food – a quick look at a map should have made that clear from the start. There are steamed dumplings called Momo, fried battered chicken things (I didn’t say nuggets), and goat and beef curries. The best dish is called Choyala Chicken with chilli, ginger, garlic and coriander in a kind of salady mix. Yums.
The conversation is wide ranging and diverting. We cover the risks of driving holidays in Citroen 2CVs, the dearth of decent pizza anywhere in Sydney, the Chardonnay/Chablis indistinction and halitosis noseness, and that moment when you discover that your parents aren’t at all normal.
Sherpa Kitchen turns out to be pleasant enough but nothing to write home to the old country about. I am beginning to think that with a few notable exceptions, this is the best you can hope for from a King Street eatery. Still, we live in hope of finding another rare gem like Thai La-Ong.
Next is Kammadhenu – another nominally challenged restaurant.