Editor's Note: This week, the Rubin Museum of Art is releasing a guide to Himalayan shopping and dining around the city, with discounts for meals at Tibetan and Nepali restaurants. So we're shining the spotlight on some Himalayan dishes we've loved around town. Hit up these spots with the guide in hand for a discount off your meal. You can get your own free copy of the guide with admission to the museum; you can also enter our giveaway here to get it mailed to your door.
Phayul, in Jackson Heights, demonstrates the dangers of underestimation. Take, for example, shoko sil sil ngoe ma ($6), translated as "shredded potatoes with peppers." Such a description tells you little but implies that you may be ordering a fancy hash. The first sign that you haven't comes from across the skinny dining room, as flames rear up and the subsequent sizzle starts to compete with the Himalayan pop playing on the flatscreen TV.
Slivered fine and barely cooked, the potatoes get mixed with chopped green chilies, scallions, Sichuan peppercorns, and red chilies. Tingles shoot from mouth to sinus to eye socket, down the throat and into the lungs. This isn't fancy hash, no siree; this is the potato transformed, a Capsicum-carb match-up that bypasses the jugular and aims straight for the heart. Shoko sil sil ngoe ma shows the trouble that comes from confusing humble with meek. It's the Tibetan food equivalent of going from 0 to 80 in no seconds flat.
74-06 37th Rd, Jackson Heights NY 11372 (map)