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Dining Out: Katmandu Spice: Woodside Asian melange falls short

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Queens rules when it comes to ethnic dining. We can take a “staycation” by sampling the world’s fare anytime we like. Not only can we choose from a staggering number of nationalities, but also select among their regional cuisines. We also have some idiosyncratic combo cuisines like Thai bagel joints or a restaurant that melds Brazilian with Turkish. So when Katmandu Spice opened in Woodside, promising “Brazilian BBQ Asian Fusion,” we were psyched to discover another one of these weirdly wonderful symbioses — but reality bit.

Katmandu Spice serves Nepalese food, Brazilian barbecue and a few Indian-influenced Chinese dishes. They all co-exist on a lengthy menu, mostly segregated by nationality. The restaurant occupies a small narrow space that runs lengthwise along Woodside Avenue, giving it many window tables. This is a good thing if you are in the mood for a semi-outdoor dining experience on a bustling commercial strip. If the night is warm, and you want to retreat into an air-conditioned oasis with a little peace and quiet, it is not. We only realized how incredibly noisy buses are when they arrive and depart by dining just a few feet from a bus stop.

We arrived at Katmandu hot and hungry. Sans a/c, we tried to attend to our other need. We were told that our first request, the mixed BBQ appetizer, would take 20 minutes. Fair enough, but we needed something right away. After consulting with our server about relative arrival times, we settled on a house salad to keep us going and an order of organic tofu. The salad took a good 15 minutes to arrive. We can only blame it on the warm sautéed mushrooms on top of what turned out to be nicely complex mix of mesclun, watercress, hearts of palm and cherry tomatoes. Unfortunately, the honey mustard vinaigrette it came with tasted like something cheap from the salad dressing aisle.

The organic tofu appetizer was the bright spot of the meal. Delicate chunks of lightly fried tofu with creamy interiors swam in a bright gingery sauce with a little bit of a nip. It was followed by the mixed BBQ appetizer, a sorry assortment of dry, overdone meats, stale farofa (Brazilian toasted yucca flour) and a vinaigrette relish. The only positive note was a freshly baked pão de queijo, a roll made with farmer’s cheese.

The description of bobó de camãro sounded promising: “sauteed shrimp in palm oil cooked in a yucca puree, coconut milk and fresh herb sauce.” The shrimp were dry and, while possessing a flavorful coating, tasted more like they had been thrown on the barbie than sautéed in palm oil and simmered in the sauce. They perched on top of the rich but mostly tasteless sauce like an afterthought.

Our most distinct foray into Nepalese cuisine took the form of a Nepali goat thali. A metal tray held a portion of goat in a brown, mildly spicy sauce, dry-fried spiced cauliflower and peas and lentil soup (or was it watery daal?) served with basmati rice. The portion of goat was fatty and none too generous.

The Bottom Line

We so wanted to love this place. The cherry on the cake was that the take-out menu listed an attractive selection of lunch specials. Thinking that we had somehow ordered wrong and missed “the good stuff,” we returned for lunch a few days later, only to discover that they aren’t open for lunch, either any more or ever — we didn’t find out which. Perhaps we just ordered the wrong things, but we didn’t find very much to love.

Katmandu Spice

60-15A Woodside Ave.

Woodside, NY 11377

718-779-7475

Price Range: Appetizers $4-$9, entrees $12-$16

Cuisine: Brazilian/Nepalese/Indian-Chinese fusion

Setting: Small, mostly window tables

Service: Efficient

Hours: Dinner daily

Reservations: Optional

Alcohol: Wine & beer

Parking: Street

Dress: Casual

Children: Welcome

Music: No

Takeout: Yes

Credit Cards: Yes

Noise Level: Loud when windows are open

Handicap Accessible: Yes

Updated 6:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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