Addictive Roasted Soybeans at Woodside Cafe


[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

If you're in for a meal at Woodside Cafe, you're in for plenty of starch. This is, after all, the Himalayan restaurant that serves mashed beans and potatoes on top of a crisp rice crepe.

But you can break up the pure starchiness with small plates like the restaurant's excellent pickled radish achar or this protein-packed plate of spiced, roasted soybeans ($3.50), which should be a required snack at bars all over Woodside.

The beans come in two variations: Bhatmas Sadeko, tossed with red onion, chili, and cilantro, and Musya Palum, what you see above, in which the beans are tossed with mustard oil, a bit of ground chili, and strips of raw ginger. The beans are crisp and slightly oily, crunchy to the point where they feel hollow. Hints of chili heat round out the beans' roasted flavor, but it's that raw ginger, cool and clean with a sneaky heat all its own, that elevate these from simple snack to full-flavored appetizer.

Okay, so soybeans are pretty starchy too. Order them anyway, and consider a second order to go. You know, for smuggling into bars.