Tashi Delek is a quiet little restaurant with a lot to offer. While it may not get the most traffic, or be the most exciting spot in town, Tashi Dalek offers some of the most unique Himalayan and Nepalese food in the area.
The restaurant has a very calm, meditative quality about it — similar to something you might find in the Himalayas, in fact. Worn copper tea pots decorate shelves, Nepalese textiles hang on the walls and cover the front of the menu. Also, the restaurant is almost entirely quiet. Beyond the distant clatter of pots and pans in the kitchen, there is no regular sound in the restaurant — no music, and next to no talking, except for when the waitress comes around. For the diner used to a more bustling, noisy environment, the quiet can be a little off-putting at first, but as the meal goes on, the quiet will surely seem like an intentional feature to the space.
More than anything, the food of Tashi Delek gives the restaurant feel like an authentic Himalayan/Nepalese feel. The menu will be vaguely familiar to the regular patron of Indian and Pakistani restaurants, but the food is unique unto itself.
Along with the standard samosas are pokora, which is sort of like the vegetarian’s solution to calamari. The dish is essentially a fried mash of various ingredients — like carrots, potatoes, onions, and spices — and is a good start to a meal. The pokora comes with two dipping sauces, one spicy, one sweet, to give the appetizer a unique flavor depending on the patron’s taste.
The unique dishes of Tashi Delek continue throughout the menu. Instead of the runny curries common at most Pakistani and Indian restaurants, the entrees of Tashi are thick, almost gravy-like in consistency, and they come with big, flavorful chunks of ingredients. The aloo baigain is a good example of this. The two main ingredients are just potato and eggplant in a sauce, which could easily result in a plain, boring dish. But the chefs at Tashi cook the eggplant slowly, ensuring it becomes soft enough to absorb flavor from all of the spices at hand, and it melts in your mouth at first bite.
Not unlike Indian and Pakistani restaurant, however, is Tashi Delek’s propensity for extremely spicy food. Patrons can choose between mild, medium, or spicy, and mild is probably the best bet for the average diner, as even the mild option is quite spicy.
Fortunately, each entree at the restaurant comes with a cup of dal, which is a creamy lentil soup. The soup serves as the perfect savory, flavorful balance to the intense spice of the main dish, resulting in a well-rounded flavor palate for the meal.
Beyond their food, Tashi Delek also has a couple of specialty beers available, like Flying Horse Indian Lager and Taj Mahal. Either of these is a great option for washing down a meal at Tashi Delek.
What the small Nepalese restaurant may be lacking in customers, but it is by no means lacking in delicious, unique options that one would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Good for sitting in or ordering to-go, Tashi Delek is a solid choice to a tasty meal.
112244 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito
Tel. (510) 232-9316
Tuesday - Sunday: Lunch: 11 am to 2:30 pm
Dinner: 5 pm to 9:30 pm
View their Yelp page here.
Photo: The Longest Way Home
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