A&E

New heights

New owners elevate Everest Cuisine's Indo-Nepali menu

A mix of tandoori chicken and chicken tikka kebab at Everest Cuisine in Mountain View. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Eight-month-old Everest Cuisine is lighting up a quiet corner of southeast Mountain View with delicious Indo-Nepali standards, tented outdoor seating and a focus on take-out.

The sleek little restaurant is in the building once occupied by Simply Thai Street Food. It is the lone dining establishment on the mostly-residential North Whisman Road, near the Hetch-Hetchy Trail and a block from the campuses of Google, Symantec and Veritas. Everest appears to be quickly distinguishing itself in a region replete with Indian cuisine.

Co-owners Shiva Reddy and Muthu Marimuthu took over the restaurant in March from another team that had launched Everest just three months earlier. When the original owners found themselves in over their heads, Reddy and Marimuthu, who had worked together in Sunnyvale's now-defunct Godavari, seized the opportunity. Reddy handles the business side while Marimuthu runs the kitchen. Reddy describes his chef-partner as a prize-winning chef who moved to the Bay Area from India about six years ago.

Everest's large menu tilts heavily toward northern Indian fare, with occasional nods to India's mountainous neighbor to the north, as well as a few dishes that fall more into the Indo-Chinese category. If you look for Everest Cuisine online, be sure to go to everestcuisineca.com or you may end up on a copycat site operated by Beyond Menu. Reddy said he is working to resolve the situation.

The food is excellent and the servings are generous. The service can be a bit uneven: sometimes attentive, but tending toward slow. The issue appears to be an intense focus on fulfilling take-out orders with too few staff members to cover both the small dining room and the constant stream from DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and individual phone orders. During one Saturday evening visit, we shared the dining room with only one other party of two. They had the misfortune of arriving in the middle of a slew of phone orders and had to wait, visibly annoyed, for at least 15 minutes for someone to take their order.

Occasional service missteps can be forgiven in light of the fact that the off-the-beaten path Everest has wisely chosen to focus much of its business on take-out and its excellent lunch buffet. In any case, the food is worth the wait. The gobi Manchurian appetizer ($8.99), a typical Indo-Chinese cauliflower snack, was outstanding: lightly breaded, delicately fried florets in a zingy, Szechuan-style sauce. The dish lacked heat, but not flavor. We ate the generous serving like candy. The mushroom pakora ($7.99) was another addictive appetizer, thinly sliced mushrooms coated in lentil flour and gently fried.

The chicken zam zam ($10.99), bite-sized, bone-in fried chicken pieces in a spicy, garlicky sauce and studded with jalapeƱos and other peppers, turned up the heat factor significantly. We were grateful for the pitchers of water on each of the pretty wooden tables. The zam zam is one of chef Marimuthu's specialties that you won't find anywhere else.

Virtually every cuisine has dumplings and in Nepal they're called momos, sturdy pockets of dough filled with meat and spices and pinched at the top like Chinese xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings. Everest's chicken momos ($4.99 for five pieces; $9.99 for 10) are savory and moist pockets of ground chicken, onions, ginger, garlic and Nepalese spices.

The vegetable fried rice ($8.99) was one of the few disappointments. We didn't care for the over-the-top spicy basmati rice with a scattering of cubed carrots and so many onions the kitchen crew must have been chopping for hours.

Vegetarians will appreciate that the menu is organized into "vegetarian" and "non vegetarian" categories. Everyone will appreciate the free, self-service chai, which is sweet, milky and spiced with cardamom and cloves. The sarbat, or Himalayan lemonade ($2.99), was delicious -- fresh-squeezed lemonade infused with fresh mint and served in a plastic glass with a lid. The focus is on take-out here, but the fantastic lemonade would have gone over so much better in a real glass.

The only quibble with the daily lunch buffet ($11.99 including tax) would be that that trays of some of the most popular items, such as the tandoori and butter chicken, can remain unfilled for a bit too long while the staff is scurrying to handle take-out orders. Otherwise, the decently-sized buffet is a great deal and contains some dishes you won't find at your typical Indian buffet -- the Kathmandu goat curry, for example. Chunks of goat meat are stewed in an intensely savory sauce with hints of something fruity and a nutty finish. This fantastic sauce was like the culinary love child of a Mexican mole and an Indian curry. The goat was tender, similar in texture and taste to slow-braised short ribs.

Another standout buffet item was the eggplant fry, lightly breaded eggplant and onions, tossed with peanuts and gently fried.

Naan is brought warm to your table and there are a number of sauce options beyond the usual mint chutney and cooling raita. I loved the silky, complex sesame sauce, but was scratching my head a little over the inclusion of ketchup and ranch dressing.

Considering the restaurant's early ownership shake-ups, Reddy and Marimuthu appear to have found a nice groove in a region with significant competition in the realm of Indian cuisine. We hope they can resolve the confusing website situation quickly, and perhaps hire an extra server to tend the dining room.

Everest Cuisine

425 N. Whisman Road, Mountain View

650-282-5958

everestcuisineca.com

Hours: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Credit cards: yes

Reservations: no

Catering: yes

Outdoor seating: Yes

Parking: lot

Alcohol: no

Bathroom: Fair

Wheelchair access: Yes

Website: Yes

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