Renton has a new concept in international cuisine in the recently opened Himalayan Cafe.
The restaurant, which offers Indian and Nepali entrées, is situated in the busy East Valley Business Park, at 202 S.W. 43rd St., Renton. It opened on May 25 and has been building a good-sized lunch and dinner crowd ever since.
Paramjit Singh is the head chef, who used to own the Kastoori Grill near Pike Place Market with his wife Bina Bogati. The two sold that restaurant in July to create their own vision in a reconstructed space in Renton with Bogati’s brother Basant. The three of them now own and manage the cafe and its sister location next door, the Everest Tea and Coffee House.
Singh has more than 20 years experience in the restaurant business and the three decided on Renton because Paramjit and Bina have lived here for more than 10 years. During that time, they’ve observed that corner location, which used to be a Starbucks, getting a lot of business. They waited until an opportunity presented itself and then they pounced, moving their popular Seattle business to Renton.
“It was a very successful business downtown,” Bogati said of Kastoori Grill, “but it wasn’t our kind of style. Someone else built that restaurant.”
The three got to transform what was once a Starbucks and a hair salon next door into their own vision for the restaurant and cafe. During a trip to Nepal, they picked up decor for their interiors, including a Buddhist prayer wheel, miniature temple and deyos, or lanterns.
The concept to pair Indian food with Nepali food crystalized when Singh and Bogati became a pair and decided to marry.
“So it’s similar, but not the same and when you mix it, it kind of works really well,” said Bogati of the two different styles of food. Singh is originally from Punjab and Bogati from Nepal.
The menu features a selection of Tandoori, or an Indian method of cooking, and Nepali dishes as well as a number of Indian vegetarian entrées. All of the courses at Himalayan Cafe are made from scratch. Singh oversees the recipes and trains the other chefs to his specifications for consistency.
Bogati makes one of the cafe’s most popular items, a dumpling called a momo. Momos are a Nepali street food, according to Bogati. It’s a laborious task to make the dumplings, which she compares to potstickers. They’re handmade with ground chicken, chopped vegetables, Nepali spices, wrapped precisely and steamed.
“Pretty much every table in the evening wants it,” she said.
It’s hard work and Bogati can make about 200 momos in two hours. Because they are so popular and also labor intensive, they are considering getting a machine to help wrap the dumplings.
Bogati is thankful that the family’s other business, Everest Tea and Coffee House, is not as labor intensive as the cafe.
The focus for Everest Tea and Coffee House is on natural and healthy items. She still calls it a unique concept for the area, with its frozen yogurt, bubble tea, chai, kombucha, smoothie and mango lassi offerings in addition to Peet’s Coffee and Tea.
They’re not a franchise of Peet’s, but they brew their products. Customers can dish up their own frozen yogurt with toppings and there are growlers for kombucha, should customers want ample loads of the fermented black and green teas. In the future, Bogati said they want to introduce Indian yogurt, called Dahi, which is more natural than typical store-bought yogurt and has probiotic benefits.
The Himalayan Cafe is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday. Everest Tea and Coffee House is open 4 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.