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Hello, Momos

Side Dishes: Nepalese eatery to open in Burlington


Published April 24, 2012 at 5:33 p.m.

Our highest mountain only measures 4395 feet, but Vermonters may soon get a taste of how it feels to hang out in the big peaks: Himalayan cuisine is coming to Burlington.

Sherpa Kitchen will open in the College Street space vacated by Saigon Bistro, which closed its doors Friday night. The eatery’s new owners — Doma Sherpa and Lakpa Lama — are working quickly: They hope to have a colorful, redecorated space open by May 5.

The couple, who first came to town from Nepal to attend Champlain College, have been busy in their home kitchen perfecting curries, stews, salads and dumplings (called momos) from recipes handed down in their families. “We hope the flavors are distinct enough that people will come back,” says Sherpa.

Nepalese curries have milder profiles and more delicate flavors than their Indian cousins, adds Sherpa, often using tomatoes and paprika for color and flavor. All of the spices in Sherpa Kitchen’s dishes — such as a special “momo masala” — will come from the couple’s home turf.

The kitchen’s momos will be filled with chicken, vegetables or beef. Also on the menu: stews with freshly made pasta and appetizers such as beet salad, wild rice salad and “sherpa bread,” a kind of roti.

Other Himalayan accents include chai and Himalayan-spiced iced tea; a cardamom-and-pistachio ice cream called kulfi; and vibrantly hued artwork, prayer wheels and even door handles from Nepal. Sherpa and Lama will roll out the fare for lunch and dinner throughout the week, and plan a brunch buffet every Sunday.

Sherpa, who will initially do all of the cooking, says the last few weeks have been a whirlwind; the couple closed the deal (brokered by Peter Yee of Redstone Commercial Group) in the space of a month. Lama’s family used to own an eatery in Nepal, so food may just be in the family — and now, it’s in our ’hood.