Located in the spot previously held by Marin's Table moroccan restaurant (RIP!) is Ghorka Palace. Ghorka Palace offers Nepali, Indian and Tibetan cuisine. It is a cozy, but not small, interior space. You could go casual here, or experience a fine date night.
When Mr. C and I arrived, we chose our own spot (!!!) and were greeted right away by what I assume is one of the owners. We were given menus and ordered our wine. They offer the standard choice of vegetarian, non-vegetarian, tandoors, biryani e.t.c., but the menu is nicely focused and not scattered. Ghorka Palace boasts all fresh, local organic ingredients from sustainable farming. They literally get their goats right here in MN. This isn't something you typically encounter with MN middle eastern restaraunts. Very commendable.
We started with some Pappaddum (2 crispy lentil crackers = $1.99) and they were served with the best side sauceI have ever had at any middle eastern restaurant. It is called Golbheda ko Achaar, and is best described as a spicy tomato relish with ginger and garlic. It is bright, simple, and universal. I could dip bread in this stuff and be happy. I loved the pappaddum with their slight sweetness against the dry crispy cracker. We were also given a complimentary small serving of Aaloo Achaar (Nepali version of potato salad- also has onion and sesame paste seasoned with lemon juice and chopped jalapeno) which I found a bit too foreign for my taste buds, but the complimentary gesture was certainly noticed and appreciated.
We finally decided that we had to try the Mo-Mo's (Steamed pot stickers filled with scallions,onions, cabbage, vegetable oil with Himalayan spices - served with tomato chutney), since people generally rave about them. They offer them in chicken, beef, goat, or yak. Yes, Yak. Local Yak. Yak Yak Yak. Ok sorry.
These were seriously awesome. I had my reservations - sticky skin, bland filling, too little filling, e.t.c. It was the opposite. The skin was soft, the filling was abundant, savory and delicately spiced. Dipping them in that awesome sauce added a brightness and kick of heat that added complexity, but without being fussy. I seriously will stop and get these for takeout on a regular basis. They are that awesome.
Chicken Biryani (Aromatic rice infused with richly flavored herbs and spices cooked with tender pieces of chicken, cashews & golden raisins - $12.99)
I love Biryani, and hadn't had one in awhile. They serve it with raita (A refreshing relish made of cucumber, tomatoes mixed in yogurt with black pepper and spices) which is standard because biryani is usually quite spicy. I asked for more of that sauce just because I am kind of in love with it. This was one of the better biryani's I have had, and one of the most spicy. The chicken was lovely. The way it's cut and the way it tastes makes it obvious it is fresh and treated well in the cooking process. Someone honestly cares about what they are doing here. The raisins add a touch of sweet and add texture, and the cashews give a slight nutty crunch to smooth over the heat. Overall one of the best things I have ever eaten.
We stayed on for awhile and chatted quite a bit with our waitress and the owner, who are some of the most well mannered and pleasant people I have encountered. The waitress isn't just a server, she is involved in the cooking process and told us they got their start in the Midtown Global Market. I expressed my fondness for the tomato relish, and she told me how to make it. She also stated that she used to attend "bring your own" types of competitions, where people could try their hand at a sauce or a side item and present it. She invited me to do the same. It was very flattering. (but I admit, I haven't done it, unfortunately...)
I love Ghorka Palace. It is nice to see a place where there is genuine enthusiasm for ingredients, food, and customers alike. I will go back many times since it is a hop away from where I live. Even if it wasn't...I would still go, even if just for some Mo-Mo's!