132 High St, Esher
Surrey KT10 9QJ
Tel: 01372 470777
Since we’ve started the Culinary Hags journey our new motto, both in life and food adventure is to do/try something new each week. So last weekend, in the spirit of our new motto, Her Royal Hagness tracked down the Sherpa Kitchen – a Nepalese restaurant in the heart of Esher, Surrey.
Sherpa Kitchen is located on the High street, just across from the local police station and a car park. Drive too fast, and you could miss it as its shop front isn’t too big. Its simple and deceptively small shop front looked inviting (although HRH disagrees with me) and once you step inside, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The restaurant is laid out over 2 floors (with a mezzanine overlooking the main restaurant area), and also has a bar in the lower ground with a cosy sitting area for those waiting for their tables or just enjoying a digestive after their meal.
Walking into this classy restaurant, the minimalist and modern décor doesn’t give you the feeling that one has stepped into a Nepalese restaurant, except for the detailed touches – a few lovely framed prints on the wall, the exotic water feature and the very smartly dressed waiters with their crisp, white aprons. The lovely and classy surroundings also invites a smart, casual dress code and although we weren’t the most appropriately dressed group (yes, The Man’s t-shirt and cargo pants were much to be desired) but we were never made to feel out of place.
Once seated, we were definitely impressed by the table settings (it’s a sign that we’ve been going to lots of cheap eateries!) and the efficient, but unobtrusive service. The attention to detail in this restaurant is very impressive – from the glistening (and huge!) wine glasses, to their polish sliver ware laid out on the white napery certainly adds to the beguiling atmosphere. Since moving to London, one doesn’t expect service or even service with a smile anymore so it’s a nice change.
So, after the hard work of ordering our meal, we settled down to enjoy the evening with the help of some really lovely Cabernet Sauvignon from South Australia (Whistling Duck). I forgot to mention before that we were seated on the mezzanine level so it was great fun for a spot of people watching and also watching the efficient waiters. When we first arrived, we were only the second or third table to be seated by after 20 minutes, the restaurant was completely full.
None of us had ever had Nepalese in London before so we had to spend some time with the menus deciding. The menus were quite helpful, with its delightful descriptions we were spoiled for choice, and definitely took our time, whilst snacking on the complimentary pappadums and dips.
After some time, we settled on the Bhutuwa - stir-fry chicken liver in traditional Nepali spices, some Momos which were steam cooked pork dumplings, delicately spiced and served with tomato chutney, a serve of Prawn Sinka (prawns marinated in sesame seeds, ginger, garlic on a bamboo stick) and finally, Sekuwa Parbat - tender pieces of lamb with a kiss of spice. All the descriptions above were from the menu itself and with descriptions such as one for Sekuwa Parbat, who wouldn’t want to eat lamb which has been kissed with spice?!! All the starters, save the prawns (£3.95) were priced very reasonably at £3.25.
Our starters arrived fairly quickly (probably as our reservations were for the 1st sitting for 7.30pm and there was another sitting at 9pm) and it was definitely as tasty as it was described. The chicken livers were interesting and very delicately spiced, although not my favourite. HRH and myself decided to go ahead and try this even though both of us didn’t really like livers but, hey again it was done in the spirit of trying new things. But, nevertheless we were surprised by how tasty it was. The steamed pork dumplings were also very tasty, although the pastry encasing the dumplings could have been a little better. But the lamb “kissed with spice” was divine, as were the prawns. Our starters were definitely a good indication of what was to come for the rest of the meal.
For our mains, we decided to try and dish from their Chuli (a bee hive shaped clay oven, charcoal fired) and this was the Teeli See (£6.95) - belly of pork soaked overnight in cumin seeds, coriander, turmeric and fresh chilli marinade. The pork was tender, delicately spiced and very delicious. It was definitely a favourite of the night.
For the other mains, we decided on the Lasoon Machha (£8.95), a dish of moist monkfish in a chilli and garlic sauce with fenugreek, the Pokhareli Lamb (£6.25 - classic spiced lamb dish from Western Nepal, garnished with finely sliced ginger) and Dhahi Bhanta (£3.50 - aubergine marinated in yoghurt). Of course, there’s the obligatory accompaniment of rice to mop up the lovely sauces and we also opted for one serve of the Gulyo Roti, much like a peswhari nan stuffed with coconut, almonds and raisins.
What can we say, the meal was excellent and we weren’t disappointed at all. The Pokhareli lamb was tender and succulent but not overly spiced and when eaten with plain rice, it’s a little slice of meaty heaven. The monkfish was also done very well – not over cooked, although tasted a little bit like sweet and sour fish to my un-Nepalese trained tastebuds. And the eggplant – it was a yummy goodness vegetable curry. If I could have vegetables as tasty as that every meal, I’d happily forgo the meat in my life. And lastly but not any less delicious, was the Gulyo Roti. I’m the first to admit that I find raisins abhorrent but in this yummy, doughy combination, I say bring it on!
After the meal was devoured and plates licked clean, we had to sit back and rest for a bit – after all, good food with good company and surroundings have to be savoured. Our waiter came around again, this time offering the dessert menus – each with individually hand painted covers. Customised menus – now that’s what I call attention to detail! Apart from the novelty of these menus, the desserts on offer were limited – there were only about 4 desserts on the menu and we selected two to share between us. We settled on a serving of mixed selection ice-creams and a mixed selection of sorbets. Our serving of ice cream came in three flavours – vanilla (the favourite – super yummy and creamy), macadamia (very creamy and good nutty flavour) and rum and raisin. By the time I got to the rum and raisin, which was also very good but after the Gulyo Roti, all my raisin love had all been used up.
The mixed selection of sorbets were also very delightful and after the ice-cream and wine, my tastebuds were all doing a little joyful dance after the first bite of mango sorbet. With chunky bits of mango and the fresh, crisp sorbet texture, it was the perfect ending to a great meal. The lemon and strawberry sorbets were also good but the mango certainly did it for me. Well, mangoes are one of my favourite fruits so there’s a little bias there.
At the end of the meal the total damage came up to £97 for a 3 course meal including 2 bottles of wine (at around £15 each), water and service. It was excellent value for money, and we managed to do all this in a 2 hour sitting, without ever feeling rushed. Definitely recommended for a nice evening out, and especially on a special occasion – romantic and won’t break the bank.
Sherpa Kitchen was a very enjoyable experience on Saturday night, and it was the first of many “first time” adventures but that’s a story for another night.
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