Review: Nepalese/Indian Food From Everest in Dongdaemun (동대문 에베레스트)

When it comes to Indian cuisine, I must admit I'm quite a late bloomer in that field. In both Portland and LA- where I both lived at one point- there was always a sizable Indian population so I always passed by so many Indian restaurants but sadly I had no real interaction with the cuisine. Subsequently my knowledge of Indian cuisine was limited solely to curry and even at that I didn't know there was a difference between Indian curry and Japanese curry or any other curry. It wasn't until the latter years of my college days that I found a budding appreciation for Indian food in general through friends and recommendations.

Fast forward to present day and I often find myself having a mean hankering for some Indian food here but find myself so disappointed and especially at having to pay 2-3 times the price of a normal Indian meal in the States.

For a few years now I've been hearing and reading of a popular institution called "Everest" which elicited rave reviews from so many and made me keen to try. But its location out in Dongdaemun, a neighborhood I rarely frequent, put me off from visiting until recently when I had the chance to check out the new Dongdaemun Design Plaza and made a stop by.

Everest's main branch is located in an old, old neighborhood of Dongdaemun amid soju shops and restaurants that's probably been around since my parents were born. Even the building housing Everest is quite a dilapidated looking thing which does come off a bit shady in appearance. But once you walk up to the second floor (of which Everest is located) and step inside, it really feels like you've been transported far away to another place. The turquoise colors, nifty decor, lanterns and such all gives an authentic and exotic feel to it. The fragrance of the place even has a far-away scent which makes you forget you're actually smack in the middle of one of the older neighborhoods of Seoul.




The menu is extensive and features a long list of curries, meat dishes, drinks and sides. So much, in fact, combing through the nine or so pages of food and beverage choices and trying to decide on your order can be a bit overwhelming. But the explanations within the menu and the helpful servers can help you narrow your choices. The family members who run Everest are all quite kind and patient and more than willing to explain the different dishes to you.

The curries alone take up two entire pages and is categorized by vegetarian, seafood, chicken, and even mutton. Rice and naan varieties are also extensive with rice choices available in such exotic gems (at least in Korea) as jasmine, basmati, biryani and more. In addition to authentic food, a number of Indian beers are offered as well as popular favorite beverages like lassi (and four kinds of lassi alone!) 

It was extremely difficult to decide for someone like me who always wants to taste everything but in the end the chosen ones off the menu included a mango lassi, chicken do piaza curry, samosa, chicken tikka, and garlic naan.

The prices for the main dishes at Everest run between 7-10,000 won but the serving sizes are a tad smaller than other Indian joints. Still, I found the entire meal overall was a lot cheaper than some of the other so-called "authentic" joints around Seoul.


Metallic plates and utensils are provided for the meal here which is also something you don't see often in Korea.


The mango lassi (3,000 won) comes in a nice big glass with mango puree on the bottom and yogurt on top. I was concerned the drink might be too sweet with the heavy mango puree to yogurt ratio but my concerns proved unfounded as it had just a nice balance of tart and sweet. It was great to sip on in between the dishes that were to come. 

Mango lassi

The chicken tikka (7,000 won) comes in a fiery red color with a simple carrot and cabbage salad and lemon wedge to spritz. Basted in yogurt and spices and cooked in a tandoori oven, it was wonderfully fragrant and surprisingly moister than it looked- especially considering the fact the chicken pieces were from the drier breast region.

The crunchy, spicy slaw in the middle had an almost Korean-like flavor to it with heavy scents from the red pepper flakes and was enjoyed tremendously with the chicken.

Chicken tikka

An order of samosa (3,000 won) provides two big pieces of dumplings and a sweet chili sauce on the side for dipping.

Samosa

The shell is a flaky pastry-like skin which reminded me of the wonderful pasties I used to eat in the UK. Nestled inside was a mixture of potatoes, spices and other goodness which both my friend and I raved about. My friend actually shared that the samosas were his favorite from our meal.

Inside the samosa

It wouldn't have been a proper visit without an order of curry and you are certainly spoiled with choice in the curry department at Everest. Be it chicken, seafood, lamb, vegetarian, etc, the menu literally has pages and pages of all things curry.

Clearly overwhelmed, we ended up asking our server for her recommendation and she pointed us to the chicken do piaza (8,000 won) which stated in its description it was made with fresh onions, tomatoes, chili, chicken and flavored with herbs and spices.

The red-hued earthy curry came with a simple yogurt drizzle and garnish on top. True to the description, inside the aromatic curry were piece of chicken, onion, and tomato along with the occasional chili peppers which provided the spicy note.

Chicken do piaza curry

To accompany our curry, we made an order of garlic naan (2,500 won) which came scorching hot from the oven and absolutely immense. It was by far the biggest naan I had come across in Korea and just delicious with our curry although I wouldn't have minded a more equal distribution of the garlic on top.

Garlic naan


The curry has some bold and spicy flavors to it which balanced well when dipped with large chunks of the naan. Being my first time trying this particular curry, I don't have a basis to really compare. There is a bit of a tart edge to the chicken do piaza curry (I believe from the tomatoes) which I didn't mind but my friend didn't prefer it and said he would rather go with a different curry the next time he came. It certainly wasn't the most amazing curry I had ever tasted but neither of us found any major issue as we cleared the whole bowl of curry.

Naan and curry

After sitting through the Nepalese/Indian feast, it was jarring to walk back out into the streets of Seoul. Though the curry didn't exactly blow my friend away, we both couldn't deny that the food overall was excellent with nothing we ordered underwhelming. The samosa, chicken tikka, and naan in particular were the best I've had in Seoul while I'm quite certain I just need to further explore and find my favorite curry among the packed list.

The only thing I'm still a bit confused about is that Everest advertises itself as a "Nepalese, Indian & Tibetan" restaurant which seems a bit overreaching. I'm definitely no expert in those respective cuisines but I know India alone has quite a diverse range of dishes and flavors depending on its regions so I'm not exactly sure which is what at Everest...  but all that aside, you can't argue the food isn't delish.

And in the end, for a restaurant specializing in ethnic cuisine to make you momentarily forget you're smack in the middle of old Seoul- both through its food and vibe- isn't that something worth noting? :)

Ratings: 3.5 out of 4 stars
Great food, excellent service with just a bit of special atmosphere to momentarily transport you far away from Seoul. Worth a checking out if you're in the area and in the mood for the cuisine.

Address: 

서울특별시 종로구 종로51가길 2-1
2-1, Jong-ro 51ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea


Come out of Dongdaemun Station exit 3
Walk straight for about 25 meters until you get to a big alley entrance that's flanked by a Woori Bank and a 그린약국 (Green Pharmacy).
Enter the alley and go up just a little bit until the alley splits into two. Follow the split to the right and you should see Everest on the second floor of the building.

Telephone: 
02-766-8850

Parking: Not available

Alcohol: Soju, bottled beer (Korean and Indian), and even whisky available.

Tip: In addition to the main Dongdaemun branch, Everest has two other branches- one in Yeongdeungpo and the other directly across the DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza).

Reservations accepted at Everest.

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