As we observe the changing of seasons — although, to be fair, we kind of skipped summer — I naturally find myself craving food that's warm and spicy to function as a figurative blanket of sorts. Thanks to the proliferation of restaurants serving Indian and Nepalese cuisine these days, options are aplenty for diners like me who find comfort within the depths of a fiery curry imbued with invigorating and medicinal spices.
Before I go any further, here is a quick primer on Indian cuisine as we know it in the States. Firstly, most Indian dishes served in the West, such as chicken tikka, tandoori naan, and samosas, hail from North India and are associated with Mughlai or Punjabi cuisine. However, one should be aware that India comprises several different regions, each with its own cuisine that is as distinct and varied as the people who inhabit the vast country.
Given Nepal's proximity to North India, it makes sense for these two cuisines to go hand in hand as there is much in common between the ingredients and culinary influences. Therefore, butter chicken only provides a glimpse into the grand scale of food in India, and much of it is simply inaccessible unless you happen to go there in person.
With that said, I found myself eager to try Everest Restaurant, which recently opened where Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ's Anchorage outpost once stood. The consensus seems to be that every new addition to the ever-increasing lineup of Indian/Nepalese restaurants in town is bringing their A-game, so I wanted to see whether Everest would live up to this ongoing trend.
Things started off promising as I immediately noticed the waitstaff were all dressed in sharp-fitted formal wear, suggesting an air of sophistication in Everest's approach to catering a sumptuous experience. However, it wasn't just their appearance that charmed me — each employee radiated with positive energy that shone through their interactions with guests and among themselves. It truly felt as though they enjoyed being there, which translated into a decidedly cheery atmosphere.
Everest's menu is spread across four pages of North Indian specialties and features a selection of appetizers, entrees, several types of naans, and more. I suggested to my dining partner that we try a little bit of everything, so we settled on their veggie samosas, gobi Manchurian (deep-fried cauliflower tossed in chili garlic sauce), and onion naan to go with our entrees — Rogan Josh and shrimp korma. It ended up being a lot of food for just two people, but we were famished and wanted some variety.
The samosas and gobi Manchurian arrived first after not too long of a wait. The former consisted of two flaky, well-endowed pastries stuffed with a heavily spiced mixture of potatoes and peas and a touch of whole cumin seeds. The delicate wrappers were fried to a golden hue — buttery and delicious — while the filling was warm and had a pleasantly mashed consistency.
These samosas were the perfect base for the tamarind and mint chutneys served alongside them. The tamarind sauce was sweet and tangy, like an eastern spin on BBQ sauce, but with a lot more oomph. On the other hand, the mint chutney was a great counterpoint with its mild, grassy flavor, much like pesto, but brighter.
As for the gobi Manchurian, one could describe it as a vegan take on boneless buffalo wings, from the crunchy, battered coating to the slick, inferno-red glaze. Indeed, I was reminded of everyone's favorite bar food once its sharp aroma stung my nostrils with whiffs of chiles and vinegar. Beyond the sauce's potency, these tender florets were crisped along every edge and crevasse, highlighting the natural sweetness of cauliflower coming through despite its dominant surroundings. This might just be my new favorite appetizer because I would likely convert to veganism if every vegetable were prepared to be this delectable. As such, I hereby deem this Indo-Chinese staple a must-try.
Things only got hotter as we progressed to the Rogan Josh and shrimp korma, which we requested at spice levels of six out of six and five out of six, respectively. Why six? No clue, but our egos were left unchecked despite our server's seeming reluctance.
The Rogan Josh was made up of tender chunks of lamb bathed in a thick, velvety curry. Sure enough, my initial bites were laced with plenty of face-numbing heat until the flaming concoction's heat plateaued. But heat wasn't all this bracing curry had to offer, as the full range of toasted spices smothered my tastebuds while the meaty chunks of lamb had been slow-cooked to achieve spoon tenderness. My mouth is watering just thinking back on this multi-sensory experience which was assuredly capable of biting back.
The shrimp korma similarly embodied an array of warm, heady spices, except the overall flavor profile diverged into much more of a mild, creamy landscape thanks to the addition of blended nuts. It was a bit sweeter and offered some slight respite as it wasn't nearly as volatile as the Rogan Josh. To me, this was vaguely reminiscent of the Filipino dish kare kare in its smooth, nutty complexity, and I was happy to see a good amount of shrimp with their tails still attached. With the curry being as intoxicatingly alluring as it was, I honestly couldn't be bothered to remove them.
No Indian banquet is complete without a serving of naan to aid with mopping up the curry and sauces. There are no less than six different types of bread available at Everest, ranging from garlic naan to Peshwari (a mixture of cashews, pistachios, and cherries) and just about everything in between. No matter your preference, it's safe to say there's real value here: Our onion naan was the doughiest, most puffed-up version I've ever seen!
Embedded within the soft, airy pockets were pieces of diced onion to lend a sharp bite as I shoveled these into my maw. Thanks to the generous portions, my only regret with these is not ordering another stack to enjoy with my leftovers in the days that followed.
For such a new venture, I was surprised to see Everest succeed in all the areas you'd expect out of a restaurant with more mileage. Besides the irrefutable quality of their food, the authenticity to their service goes above and beyond what's expected and factors heavily into their winning formula. It's difficult to gauge where they stand among the growing pantheon of Indian/Nepalese restaurants here in Anchorage, but Everest makes a strong case for being a high point for this electrifying cuisine.
Everest Restaurant is located at 3637 Old Seward Hwy. They are open daily from 11am - 10pm.