Tara's looked to offer authentic Nepalese / Tibetan dishes. Also, I was inspired by the story of owner Tara Gurung Black, who grew up in a tiny mountain village in Nepal (who we learned had escaped from an arranged marriage in her early teens) came to America on her own, assimilated, and eventually opened the restaurant to introduce a taste of her culture to LA, and later to raise funds to send home to a local school in her village that had fallen into disrepair. She wanted kids from her village to be educated, empowering them as agents for positive change while not losing their heritage.
We kicked off our meal with a cup of Himalayan Hot Tea ($3) made with cooked milk, ginger and Himalayan herbs. It reminded me of chai but less in- your-face, spice that's got a calm presence - definitely hit the spot on that cold night (and cheers to free refills!)
Excited to try the food (Nepali cuisine has a lot of Indian and Chinese influence, so the menu had a lot of familiar terms like tandoori, masala, naan and their staple 'momo' are similar to Chinese dumplings/potstickers) - The Nomster and I decided to go with the two dishes that featured Yak meat, which neither of us had ever had (we're somehow always drawn to the unusual!).
So what are Yaks, and why Yak meat?
In looks, Yaks resemble bison / cattle - they have handlebar horns, large shoulder humps, horse-like tails and long hair that hang down close to the ground.
All in all, glad we got the Himalayan experience, on our little pretend-Travel Channel-episode without ever leaving town. It was worth trying at least once - and you can feel good about 10% of the profits from your meal going to support the Nepali school. And happy to have met Tara, an incredible, generous and positively beaming personality whose passion for her country and culture is clear and inspiring.
In keeping with the Nepalese theme, after dinner we walked overto Big Foot West, just a few doors down, for drinks. So Big Foot is not exactly the Yeti, but pretty much the American equivalent (did Tara's and Big Foot West plan to be so close to each other?)
Despite the cool design, it's a pretty laid back and scene-free bar where you can come as you are - and be just as comfortable in your smart casual work clothes or in the cliched flannel shirt and jeans.
My friend 'Designer' introduced me to this bar a while back, and they used to have a specialty drink called Horny Goat that is $25 and made of un-nameables, that sat in a giant biology class style jar at the bar, and is supposed to aid your libido. We never got to try it, and now it's gone, like so many creatures of legend.
So, I ordered a Flower of New Orleans ($12), made of gin, yellow chartreuse, elderflower liquer and lemon juice. I think Matt Biancaniello ruined me for cocktails not made farm-to-glass with incredible creativity: I found the Flower of New Orleans way too sweet and syrupy, but one thing that is NOT subjective, is the size of the glass (I don't know my metric measurements, but it was only about 3 mouthfuls of liquid in a small cocktail glass for $12, when Matt's crazy creative drinks at Library Bar are full-sized, sometimes in margarita or pint glasses, at $16). Also, service was pretty abominable (yes, pun intended) - it took 10 minutes for the bartender to take my order, then another half hour to get my drink (he said he couldn't find me, but um, it's a small bar and I just moved over to a barstool that freed up a few steps down).
So, would I recommend Big Foot West? ONLY for Happy Hour (see deal alert below) AND only if you're already in the area, like within walking distance (would not be worth a drive, in my opinion), AND you're not in a rush.
[Deal alert: $5 Happy Hour daily 5pm-9pm. Also sighted at Big Foot West: Whisky lovers night Mondays $4 Buffalo Trace, $5 Russell's rye]
All in all, though we may not have had summit-like highs taste-wise with either venue, we had a fun time trying something new and different (and yes, yakking up a storm - I know, *groan*, had to do it).
Chalking this Yak + Yeti trip up for another Nomster / 1MB adventure! Can't wait to see what we come up with next...
10855 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034
Big Foot West
10939 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064