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Jackson Heights, Queens, has long been a stronghold of South Asian cuisines, particularly Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian. Sari shops and stores specializing in Indian bridal jewelry line the stretch of 74th Street named for Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-American astronaut. Over the past decade or so, there has been a vast influx of people from the Himalayas, and they have brought their cuisine with them. To some, Jackson Heights is still known as Little India, but with more than two dozen restaurants serving Tibetan, Nepalese, and Bhutanese food, Himalayan Heights is probably a better moniker. As in many ethnic enclaves, these restaurants serve as a home away from home where countrymen tuck into steaming plates of momo as the Dalai Lama’s smiling visage looks on. Here are a few of our favorites.

Tucked away on a side street packed with Indian barbers, Himalayan beauty salons and halal butchers, it’s easy to miss this Tibetan eatery. The restaurant, which serves grub from the rooftop of the world, is appropriately situated upon a rooftop high above one of the busiest corners in Jackson Heights. Once upstairs, you’ll find chef Chime Tendha and his crew preparing Tibetan favorites in an open kitchen. Steamed momo — the juicy, twisty topped beef dumplings that are the national dish of Tibet — are good, but the fried version is spectacular, transforming the humble dumpling into a golden brown delight of the highest order. Like many Tibetan cooks, Tendha and his crew have a way with offal. Drope khatsa, ribbons of beef tripe in a fiery chili sauce, is excellent. So is chele khatsa, fried tongue wih garlic and peppers. Go for an offal double-header and order the off-menu mixed khatsa. Blood sausage fans won’t want to miss gyuma ngoe ma, earthy links that, like many of the dishes here, come with just a bit of Sichuan peppercorn. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to watch a few Tibetan hip-hop videos while dining. 37-65 74th St., 2nd Fl., Jackson Heights, NY 11372; 718- 424-1869

Lhasa Fast Food 
You’ll feel like a sherpa when you eventually find the entrance to this homey little spot behind a cell phone store. You might even wind up sharing a table with an actual Himalayan mountain guide or two while sipping butter tea and waiting for your food. Despite the name, there’s nothing fast about the food here. Freshly made beef momos take time and care. Juicy and singing with the flavors of ginger and Chinese celery, the dumplings are so good they took home the Golden Momo trophy. Soups here are also good  especially the thentuk, a hand-pulled noodle soup with beef. Doctor up your bowl with some black vinegar and chili to create a sinus-clearing Tibetan take on hot and sour. 37-50 74th St., Jackson Heights, NY 11372; 718-205-2339

Woodside Café
When this family-run restaurant opened a few years ago, just over the border in Woodside, the awning touted Italian and American food along with Indian and Nepali fare in an apparent attempt to be all things to all diners. The pizza oven is now long gone, the chef having decided it was wiser to focus on Nepali and Tibetan food. Kothe momo, thick-skinned dumplings that have been steamed, pan-fried, and then finally anointed with vegetable broth, are wonderful, filled with ground beef and veggies and scented with garam masala. Woodside Café offers such specialties of Nepal’s Newari people as chatamari, a rice-flour pancake studded with black-eyed peas and topped with a fried egg, beef, veggies or chicken and served with goat gravy. And then there’s kachila, the Nepali take on beef tartare, prepared with finely minced steak and seasoned with turmeric powder, salt, chili pepper and mustard oil. A topping of toasted fenugreek seeds adds a nice textural flourish. Take note: Kachila is only available on Fridays and Saturdays. 64-23 Broadway, Queens, NY 11377; 347-642-3445

Tibetan fried momo is a specialty at Phayul.

Dhaulagiri Kitchen
Kamala Gauchan is chef-matriarch of this shoebox of a restaurant, which shares a space with roti factory Tawa Food. Her joint is named for the third-highest peak in the Himalayas, so it’s only fitting that she serves some of the highest-level Nepali cooking around. Gauchan is a master of the often fiery, always vibrant fare of her hometown, Kathmandu. Specialties include sukuti, an air-dried jerky made from beef, buffalo or goat. The latter has an amazing, earthy depth of flavor that’s cheesy in the best possible way. Order it as the protein in a thali, a shiny platter topped with a mound of rice ringed by various accoutrements, including radish pickle, daal, fried bitter melon and mustard greens. Among the tiny satellites of flavor orbiting the rice is gundruk, the spicy preserved mustard greens that are considered the kimchi of the Himalayas. Rather than eating these powerfully flavored pickles on their own, use them to season the rice. Do the same with the buttery daal by spooning a bit of the tiny black lentils over it. Gauchan also serves up the best chai in town. For dessert, there’s tsel roti, gigantic nutty-tasting rice-flour donuts. 37-38 72nd St, Jackson Heights, NY 11372; 718-877-7682

Himalaya Connection
“Do not touch in the face of the gods” reads a sign above a brass Ganesh flanked by three Buddhist deities at Nima Lhoba’s 10-year-old shop, which offers everything from prayer wheels and incense to Nepali pop CDs and cricket jerseys. And there’s food, including momo masala, gundruk, fiery pickles from Himalayan Delight, instant butter tea, and the dried yak cheese known as churpi. The latter is available in hard cubes that are chewed and in sweet crunchy curlicues that have a pleasant lactic tang. If you ask nicely, Lhoba or one of his nephews will let you sample some. 72-30 Broadway, Jackson Heights, NY 11372; 718-505-9201

This tiny eatery named for the national flower of Nepal — the laliguras or rhododendron — specializes in thali plates and momo. The pickles here might not be as vibrant as at other places, but Laliguras has one thing none of the other places do: goat head. Order it as the headlining protein in a thali and you’ll hear it being aggressively fried up in the kitchen. A richly flavored bowl of goat soap comes as part of the thali as well. 37-63 76th St., Jackson Heights, NY 11372; 718-424-0017

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