Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: In 30 years, a Tibet food place in your neighborhood will be the new sign of gentrification
I know absolutely nothing about the Tibet Nepal region. I know that Brad Pitt apparently spent a few years there and that if I want to ever trek the Everest region, its a hell of a flight and tickets start at a grand. Any food nerd knows that the Jackson Heights area of Queens has a growing and sizable Nepalese/Tibetian community and tasty food is to be found. One of these restaurants is Phayul Restuarant.
Thankfully, with a bit of advance reading, I knew where to find Phayul and future tip for first timers, just look up. Phayul is located on the second floor and there is not much signage to be found ground level. Also the bright person I am, I decide to trek out to Queens on one of the coldest weekends so I am not in the mood to play Lara Croft here and search for it. Even going up to the restaurant, you are going to have doubts and there is a slight shadiness to it but do not fret and look at the bright side, there is a hair salon adjacent to the restaurant so if you are not hungry, perhaps a trim might be in order.
It is a small space, maybe 6 tables in all and the kitchen, which is open about the same size as the eating area and basically eating in a New York apartment. Especially in this weather, the first thing you should get, and imperative is a butter tea. Do that even before you look over the menu, because I am pretty sure the heat was not on so butter tea is a necessity and I guess fitting given Tibet/Nepal can get ridiculously cold and plus you can brag to your friends that no doubt you got an "authentic" experience. Butter tea has no herbal qualities to it and it is what it sounds like, a tea of butter. I am unsure if yak butter is used but its a buttery hot liquid that is slightly salty given it a savoriness to it and is addictive, having you craving for more. Actual food after the jump!
|get two orders, one for now and one for later|
|Mo' Momos plz|
Momos are what they call the dumplings here and we got an order of the chicken ones. they are shaped like Chinese soup dumplings and you should take some of the same precautions into biting into one because there is some liquid in there that will cause mouth roofal damage. Momos compared Chinese dumplings are a heartier breed. The skin is thick and heavy and it is more than stuffed with a dense meaty filling an despite the heaviness, it was delicious. Granted if I tried to run after eating a few of these they would no doubt sit in your stomach like pool balls but tasty.
The chili chicken looks simple enough but there is a lot of things going on in this dish. The chicken is crisped and tossed with chilies and onions and has the orange glow that reminds you of tandoori chicken. It is flavorful without the abundance of any sauce and the flavors are reminiscent of multiple Asian cuisines yet stands out as a unique flavor on its own.
Cold day calls for hot soup and the thenthuk delivers. the broth is milky and light with a steady beefiness. The noodles are slightly chewy, wide and have a parpadelle quality to them.
The Lhasa Fried Noodles from afar look like simple fried noodles but on closer inspection it is a hodgepodge of vegetables and some long pepper chiles that work well together. Lastly the Tingmo is something that is something to get the first time coming here. Tingmo is the steamed bread and anyone that has had a Chinese mantou can expect it to taste similar. the Tingmo is a dense thing, it is the size of a fist. I am pretty sure if you tried to sneak this on a plane this would be confiscated and it is much more deadly than a cupcake in a jar. The Tingmo is a good sauce soaker and if you were worried about being hungry or planning on running back to Manhattan, this would certainly do the trick.
Overall, I came out here out of pure interest and curiosity, and I will return because the food was good, plentiful and a good deal. The staff was nice and welcoming and the chefs are preparing things to order. As I was leaving, I spied one of the chefs quickly rolling out a Tingmo and throwing it in a steam basket. I love coming to this part of Queens because there are so many food options up and down Roosevelt Avenue and walking down a couple of blocks, the whole neighborhood can change. However, now that I have finally tried Nepalese/Tibet food I now have a level of expectation of what to eat when I go and try new places and no doubt, eventually see how many momos I can eat at once.
74-06 37th Rd
Jackson Heights, NY 11372