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Owner of the Himalayan opens The Spicey Chef

Chow
by Ann Thurlow

Anuj Thapa of The Spicey Chef (photo: Ann Thurlow)If a person is curious about food and encouraging by nature, that person (being me in this case) might go to check out a restaurant (The Spicey Chef in this case) to see what it’s like and help it along. This is where the person gets a surprise or two. Number one: though only open two weeks, the place is packed. Number two: the menu is so diverse it almost defies description. Thai? Mexican? Indian? All of those plus, in a few memorable instances, at least two of the above.

If you are a fan of the Himalayan, you may already know Anuj Thapa. He moved to PEI from Nepal, shortly after visiting here as a tourist. He came back just a few months later to open a restaurant, found a spot and opened a place serving Indian food. It didn’t take long to become popular. It was that popularity (the Himalayan is small) and a desire to, as he put it, play around with spices that led Thapa to open a second spot.

Several years ago, Thapa had experience working in a Thai place and he liked the spicy, layered flavours. His chef spent several years working in a Mexican kitchen. And, of course, there’s Indian, the backbone of the two restaurants.

Thapa is proud to point out that the two menus share only one item—momo, which is a traditional Himalayan dumpling. Everything else, from the pico de gallo with house made corn chips to the Malabar fish curry are unique to the Spicey Chef. Some dishes are somewhat similar; I’m a big fan of Tibetan chicken at the Himalayan and the Manchurian chicken is somewhat the same, except no breading on the chicken and a tomato sauce that is deep and rich beyond belief. And the butter chicken at each place has a different recipe, each a new take on what has become a popular dish.

And speaking of popular, the Spicey Chef’s butter chicken nachos have become far and away the most popular dish on the menu. It is exactly what you think it is and it has people coming in droves to order it.

I myself am a soup fan and seldom have I had soup that has such layers and varieties of textures and tastes. I have had mulligatawny and Thai Tom Yam and would find it hard not to order them again and again. Though, truthfully, everything I’ve had is pretty delicious. It’s going to be fun to continue to explore the menu and to see if I can pick out all the spices in the 65 Spice chicken.

This is creative cooking and I (and, apparently many others) am happy to welcome The Spicey Chef to town.

The Spicey Chef is at 85 Belvedere Ave. in Charlottetown, right across from the Superstore.

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