ONCE UPON A TIME, San Diego had a bounty of small ethnic restaurants that turned out excellent and distinctive food. Finding such places nowadays is not as easy as it once was, but as then, we heard about these hole-in-the-wall gems by word of mouth.
Pssst: Taste of the Himalayas is terrific.
This small modest restaurant serving South Asian food is hidden among the abundance of strip malls along Midway Drive. Think of getting there as a treasure hunt.
Serving vegetarian, lamb, chicken, seafood, and tandoor foods – made spicy or mild to order — what’s most notable about the food here is that it is so distinctive. And so good.
The Chicken Choila includes chunks of marinated breast meat with bell peppers and an abundance of onions cooked in a clay oven. Its mild, slightly sweet flavor is habit-forming. Ditto for the momo, a collection of tidy dumplings that are filled with minced chicken, vegetables or lamb, then steamed and dunked into a dipping sauce. Among the several kinds of the rice-based biryani, the shrimp is an unconventional standout. Even the familiar chicken tandoori is uncommon in its succulence and tenderness.
One issue at Taste of the Himalayas is that it’s far too easy to over order — and in doing so, there’s an opportunity to sample a profusion of awfully good things to eat.
Service: Very good
Patrons: The most common patron is the repeat diner who, by any measures, represents a cross-section of San Diego.
Parking: There's a parking lot out front.
Details: Open for lunch and dinner. Starters are $4-$8 and entrees are $9-$15. Beer and wine only. 3185 Midway De., Sports Arena/Midway area.
Restaurant Reviews: By Stephen Silverman • Photography by Martin Mann
Photo: Original takes on South Asian food are a hallmark at Taste of the Himalayas.