One of the best parts of our Twitter is that once in a while a good deal comes along. So when a $25 Restaurant.com certificate for $2 came up for Himalayan Heritage, Official Friend of DCWD Yupster convinced me to give Himalayan food a shot.
Himalayan Heritage is in the first level of the first townhouse in what I think of as Adams-Morgan proper: the stretch of 18th St north of Kalorama. From the outside, there's a giant red sign for the restaurant, and at the least, we were thrown off my the painted billiard balls for the pool hall below. The inside decor is like a set out of The Golden Child or Kundun. On one side of the room is an alcove with a jutted overhang made to resemble a Tibetan shack, and cushioned wall edge booths underneath it. On the back wall, is a giant Buddhist painting, and the orange and red walls are otherwise dotted with Buddhist iconography. Each table is lit by a metal lantern light that hung from a pole over each individual table. The small six-seat bar continues this theme, with a similar black overhang, except lined with fringe. So, since it seems like what a Tibetan shack would be like, at least the decor's authentic.
Both Yupster and I joked that we fully expected the menu to be just different versions of yak, but we couldn't find any on there (we admittedly didn't look that hard). What we did end up ordering was the Jhinge machha, giant prawns deep fried in Nepalese batter, and served with three sauces: mint, tamarind, and mixed fruit. Along with that appetizer, as a sort of bread course, they brought out soy beans and some rice crispie-like crunchies, which was okay to nosh on. The prawns were okay, decently cooked, though there was very much a hierarchy when it came to the sauces (mint was by far the best, tamarind was okay, the mixed fruit was heinous).
For our entrees, we ordered a Nepalese Duck Dream masala (duck breast, green herbs, Himalayan spices, spring onion) and the Khosi Ko Masa (a goat curry of goat meat on the bone, sauteed in ginger, garlic, and Himalayan spices, in a tomato and onion sauce), two of the Chef's suggestions on the menu. Both came with rice, and we got some garlic naan with it. When the food did come out, we were presented with two eerily similar looking metal bowls of food; that wasn't a positive sign, though it did reaffirm my stereotypes about Himalayan food: meats in interesting colored sauces.
The food however was pretty decent. The duck was a little overcooked but they had crisped the skin well enough that it came through okay. The goat was fine as well, with a lot of tendon and fat on the bones; the sauces for both were also tasty. I thought the best part was the naan, which some of the better naan I've had in my life.
Like I said, we didn't get any yak, though Yupster and I did observe someone getting served something on a sizzling hot black plate (which I didn't happen anywhere outside of Chili's). So maybe our experience was still missing something. That being said, the food was decent but nothing to call home about. If you're in the mood for something off the beaten path, it's an okay choice, but if I wanted to have a more memorable experiential date, I'd go Ethiopian. Otherwise, a passable place that I probably will only go back to if I had another certificate (which I do, as it were).
Food Rating: ** 1/2 (out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Quiet Drinks
Cost: $$ (out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
Pairing: Two of the better independent music stores in the area are right down the block: Smash Records, and Crooked Beat Records. Take your date to look for some vinyl or to get some new music. Just up the block on 18th St NW.