Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Experiencing New Flavors at The Cheel

By Chelsie Niehoff -- 

Have you ever had a meal that literally transports you to another place?  Well I have. 

That meal was at the cheel, a Nepalese restaurant on a seemingly ordinary corner in downtown Thiensville.  MKEFoodies hosted MKEtable dinner there last Wednesday and I was fortunate enough to be one of the guests. 

If you have never had Nepalese food (which I hadn't), I would describe it as a blend of Asian influences (think Indian and Thai) that is lighter and more flavorful than one would expect.  I don't normally eat vegetarian dishes either but after eating here, I could* consider it.  I know that I'm not doing this place justice, but for those a little less adventurous in the food department, trust me- this place is good! 

Barkha and Jesse Daily are a warm welcoming couple who both have a passion for food. Their cuisine is a blend of family recipes that Barkha (who is from Kathmandu) carried over from Nepal.  All of their dishes are made from scratch and fun fact: about 68% of the spices used at the restaurant are imported over from her mom in Nepal.

My favorite part about the meal was this quote that came from Barkha, "with Nepali food, nobody's plate will taste the same".

I  agree 100%. There are so many sauces and seasonings to add to what you're eating. It's one of the reasons the meal was so enjoyable. My dish was personal to me. I could sauce and dip as I pleased and every bite was different from the next.

This is Jesse warning us to pace ourselves this evening as we had a lot coming- and boy was he right! 

My drink was called a Modo San and I only recall that it was topped with Champagne ... and really, that's all you need to know.

The first dish Barkha served was a eggplant bharta, which is a North Indian dish from her grandmother.  It's grilled eggplant simmered with onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger served with chips that are amazing (very similar to wontons).  In simple terms, you could call this an eggplant 'bruschetta' and it's awesome. 
It was VERY hard to stop eating.

This next dish is lamb momo which is basically a seasoned lamb dumpling. There were 4 pan friend and 2 steamed, both served with aachar (yummy sauce). 

Up next was one of my favorite dishes, the veggie choyla, which is toasted soy nuts tossed with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, ginger, and cilantro served over crispy flattened rice. 

Next favorite dish (also vegetarian- who would have guessed), was the tofu gyaw. It's basically a crispy burmese chickpea french fry served with tangy aachar sauce. It was deliciously creamy on the inside and SO crispy and crunchy on the outside.  Couldn't get enough!

This next dish is the mahi gyaw, which is basically a mahi mahi french fry. If I recall correctly, I think this was covered with crispy chick peas which were crisp and delicious.

This dish gets the best named award because it's called FING!! It was SO good, probably the closest to like a Thai noodle dish but cold.  It was a bean noodle salad with ginger, garlic, fresh herbs, egg crepe slices and toasted peanuts.

It was very 'FINGer licking good!' (props to Paul Fredrich for that one).

Seriously can you believe there is MORE food?  I was almost comatose at this point but managed to lick this bowl clean.  Called mohinga, it's a catfish soup that has bits of egg in it and other delicious things.  While not normally on the menu, you should ask for it anyway. 

GOAT! Yes this next dish is goat.  Would have NEVER guessed I was going to eat that this evening. It's called sekwa and it's a traditional BBQ dish from Nepal.  Very tender- not gamy like I would have thought. 

I can't believe I forgot what this dish is called but it was literally heaven on earth.  Served with tons of dipping sauces, you have a combination of veggies, chicken, boar (amongst other things), on a bed of rice.  As Barkha said when she served this dish, "there's no limit to how much you can dip!".

And now for the grand finale.  While in Nepal dessert isn't common, Barkha managed to whip up this puppy for us.  A Rocky Road Momo (dumpling remember?) on top of a Nepalese rice pudding with raisins.  If you can believe it, I still managed after all of this food to eat the entire thing

No shame though- was totally worth it.

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