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Review

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Reader rating:

Rating: 40 out of 5 stars(48 votes)

 

Mustang: that's not the Ford sports car. It's a region in the high country of Nepal, just south of the Chinese border. A land of dried beans and goat meat, which, on the face of it, could make a hard sell to spoilt-for-choice Sydney diners.

Indeed our waiter laments that Nepalese food is not widely known in Australia, and our tastes run more to familiar Indian curries.

But along with those, Mustang Nepalese has been serving up Nepalese delicacies quati (a bean soup), chhwela (grilled marinated meat) and aloo tama (a potato and bamboo shoot specialty) for four years now.

 

It's a matter of education, he observes, saying that a tweak of the menu to include more dishes from the diverse cultures of Nepal is coming soon.

 

In the meantime, it holds its own on this strip of the Pacific Highway that is crammed with restaurants.

It is pleasantly bustling on a Thursday night but we still score a table without a reservation.

The cream walls are lined with framed photographs of cherubic Nepalese children and snow-capped mountains. A red archway through to the kitchen adds a little drama to the otherwise low-key room. There are fairy lights on the banister and more seating upstairs.

The service is friendly, and informative almost to a fault. After a long and mostly interesting treatise on the characteristic foods of Nepal, as distinguished from the Goan fish curry, butter chicken and lamb saag, which also appear on the menu, we are left alone to decide. The banquet ($28.90 per person) includes many Indian favourites, so we steer clear in an attempt to try something new.

There is no way we're going past the momo, a steamed chicken dumpling described in the menu as a very popular dish in Nepal that betrays a strong Tibetan influence. It is traditionally made with buffalo meat but here it comes in chicken or vegetarian versions, with a delicious, mildly spicy sauce made from grilled tomato and roasted sesame seeds. The dumplings are chewy, yielding and oily in all the right ways. I have trouble getting excited about the idea of aloo chop, a fried potato cake coated with chickpea flour and served with a minty yoghurt sauce but it's as tasty as it is stodgy. Juicy lamb cutlets marinated in wild peppercorn and Nepalese spices are delicious, although the thinner one here is a little overcooked to my taste.

For a main, we bypass the goat curry for the Nepali chicken curry, with a tomato and onion base flavoured with fenugreek. The serving of tender, flavourful meat is generous but we have to leave room for the Mustang lamb, a rich yoghurt curry of slow-cooked lamb shoulder. It's very good, with the right balance of salt, spice, tenderness and texture. It might not be authentically Nepalese but we team it with a mellow, sweet mango chutney and plain basmati rice to good effect.

The waiter almost warns us off the aloo tama, a traditional dish of potatoes, black-eye beans and bamboo shoots, saying it is an acquired taste; but we quite enjoy the hearty, textured dish. The Nepalese achar - a cold salad of potatoes, chewy green peas, cucumber, onion and spices - is a bit more challenging, with an almost chemical flavour in the dressing that could be the mustard oil.

Sated, we push back from the table. It's been a trip to the Himalayas without the altitude sickness or the snow. Mustang Nepalese is a friendly, hearty and good value local restaurant, with just enough of the new and exotic to balance the familiar.

Reveiw taken from : http://www.smh.com.au

 

 

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