Himalayan Palace Restaurant
3760 Sports Arena Blvd. #5
The Midway District off San Diego, CA 92110
By Judi Curry
A funny thing happened on our way to eat at an Indian restaurant. My daughter Stephanie and I decided to go to our favorite Indian restaurant on Midway and easily found a parking space right in front. We walked into the restaurant and saw a group of people standing in line but no movement. Like sheep, we also got in line.
A few minutes after our arrival a man walked in and spoke to a waiter just coming out of the kitchen. He then turned around and walked towards the door, saying to the woman waiting for him, “they aren’t seating anyone.” I asked the woman in front of me if she was waiting for a table and she said that she was not — she was waiting for her take-out order. Stephanie then talked to the waiter, and was told the same thing as the previous patron – they were not seating anyone. (I should say that there were people seated at tables and we actually saw some people being served. There were many open tables, however, which led us to believe that they must have been short staffed.)
Since we were both craving Indian food, I remembered that there was an Indian restaurant just behind the Red Lobster on Sports Arena and we decided to go there instead — the Himalayan Palace. We tried to make reservations but were told on-line that there was nothing available until 7:30 and it was only 5:30 so we decided to try it anyway. There was only one table filled when we got there, and had to shake our heads at the inability to make a reservation when almost every table was empty. We took the a large table because we figured we would be ordering a lot of food. We were right.
The menu is extensive, with appetizers, soups, specials, vegetarian meals. We asked our server if anything came with the entrees – rice, naan, soup because the first restaurant that we went to had soup and naan as part of their meals. At first the server did not understand our questions, but told us that nothing special came with the orders.
After looking the menu over carefully, we decided to start out with an appetizer – Gobi Manjurian ($10.95) which was steamed cauliflower fried in rice flour batter with special homemade Himalayan sauce and celery. It was a little spicy, but very good. It was served hot and we were each given plates of our own so we were able to share it equally.
Since it was a cold evening, Stephanie and I both decided that we wanted soup, and she ordered the Dal Soup ($5.95) which was their mixed lentil cooked with Himalayan herbs and spices. It was very tasty but it would have been nice if we had had the choice of “soup or salad” with our entrée.
I had the Creamy Mushroom Soup ($7.95) which was a homemade style cream of mushroom soup cooked with garlic and Himalayan herbs and spices. It was truly delicious and quite a large portion was served. There is no question I would order it again.
For her main course, Stephanie ordered the chicken Vindaloo. That was made with potatoes, onion and tomato gravy cooked in Himalayan herbs and spices, seasoned with vinegar and vindaloo sauce. The cost was $18.95. It came with a portion of rice. She asked that the spice level be about a “3”, based on a 1-5 scale, but she said if there was any spice she didn’t taste it. Although it was very good and she would order it again, she was disappointed that the spice level was not what she ordered.
I ordered the Chicken Momo ($13.95) which are steamed dumplings filled with minced chicken, onion, cilantro and Himalayan herbs and spices. It was served with a special Himalayan sauce. They were wonderful. Moist on the inside and outside; the special sauce was a welcome addition, and I could have just eaten the sauce and been happy.
We did not know how much food there was going to be, so we ordered a side of their plain/ buttered Naan ($2.95). We only ate one of the 4 pieces served to us because there was so much food. Additionally Stephanie ordered a cup of Masala Chai Tea (3.95) which she ended up putting in a cup and taking home. It was hot and tasty.
In addition to the above, I had a student that had a late class and since I was not going to be home to cook dinner, I ordered a take-out of Chicken Curry ($19.95) that was made with onion and tomato gravy with Himalayan herbs and spices. I asked that the spice level be at a “1” and it was. It was served with rice and I tasted it before I gave it to my student and it was very “curryish”. In other words, very good.
Over all the meal was delicious, albeit expensive. We couldn’t help but compare it to the first restaurant that we had chosen, and the cost there would have been half of what it was here because soup and naan are part of their regular menu whereas here we had to pay extra for it. If cost were not a factor, there is no question that we would come here again, because everything was very tasty. But the bill, along with the tip was $99 and for what we had we felt somewhat over-extended.
There is no question that the Himalayan Palace is authentic; but for the same menu just a few blocks away, it is questionable about the return. Of course, if you can’t be seated……..