Saino Indian Nepali Kitchen
Papadum with Tamarind and Mint Chutney
Vegetarian Pakora – Nepali appetizer prepared from mixture of different vegetables coated with spiced grain flour batter, and then deep-fried crispy
Onion Bhajji – Free structural onion cake, deep-fried and served with chutney
Aaloo Jeeraa – Well steamed potatoes re-fried with light spices and cumin seeds
Fry Chicken Momo – Fried Version of Nepali steamed dumplings, featuring spiced minced chicken, served with Sesame Sauce
Dhindo – Made by boiling hot water and continuously mixing and stirring millet flour. Served with Ginger and Mango, Gundruk (pickled and dried Mustard Greens) and Goat Curry
Tandoori Mixed Grill Platter – Mixture of chicken, lamb and shrimps cooked on skewers in tandoor, fashioned with Onion and Bell Peppers on a sizzling plate
Tandori Roti – Whole-wheat flat traditional bread backed in clay oven with butter
Paneer Kulcha – Cheese. Flat soft wheat bread stuffed with chopped cheese with mild spices
Goat Bhootan – Special nepali dish where stomach, liver, intestine and lungs of goat will be fried along with nepali spices, fashioned with onions and cilantro
Suji Haluwaa – Semolina is sauteed in the fat while a syrup is being made of the sweetener and water, the two are mixed carefully while hot, and finished with cashew nuts and other aromatic spices
Kheer – Popular dessert rice pudding is a dish made from rice mixed with milk and other aromatic ingredients such as cinnamon, cashew and raisins
Located on West Desert Inn Road, directly across from I-Naba which oddly features a South Decatur Boulevard address, Saino Indian Nepali Kitchen is not the sort of place patrons ‘stumble upon’ as the storefront is hidden well off both Streets behind a Sinclair Gas Station, yet claiming to be the first Nepalese/Himalayan Restaurant in all of Las Vegas the concept seemed worthy of investigation.
Thus far gathering much of its attention for a $9.95 lunch buffet, the still-labeled hot and cold tables showing the selection to be “good, but mostly traditional Indian” by a friend familiar with such things, the decision to partake in dinner at Saino was driven largely by the staff’s inability to answer E-mails or explain by phone whether A la Carte options were offered from 11a-3p, the 6 o’clock arrival seeing five sat at a round table without a single other patron present until a quarter past seven.
No doubt a sizable menu, all items detailed with lengthy descriptions that often proved inaccurate as pictures of some helped guide choices both at the table and on the wall, those looking for attentive service are probably best to avoid Dinner at Saino as the waiters seem more intent on standing about chatting with colleagues or adjusting Indian Pop-Music than they are with refilling beverages or assuring accuracy to the tickets, water requiring repeated requests on more than one occasion while double charges were made for items not received – some sold out and another never requested.
Not an expensive place, the waiter’s reference to Sysco and US Foods during a discussion not unexpected but at the same time not “brag-worthy” as he made it seem, the meal started off predictably with crisp Bread served alongside Tamarind and Mint Chutney, the first courses delayed due to difficulty firing the Tandoori despite an arrival almost an hour after opening, another odd statement as the crispy Pakora and Onion Bhajji were both fried, anyway.
Ignoring the ubiquitous spelling mistakes on the menu, but more perplexed by the number of items with inconsistent pricing online versus the menu versus the bill, follow-ups to the tasty fried vegetables were delivered as a slow rollout with Garlic Naan that was typical, if not particularly memorable, a large plate of Aaloo Jeeraa providing the meal’s first ‘wow’ moment by way of texture and the complexity of the spice profile while Chicken “Mo-Mo” was served fried as opposed to boiled, as requested, though perusal of the menu after leaving would show the table was charged for both.
Told that the signature Dhindo would take an hour to prepare, high heat and constant stirring turning Millet into a sort of mashed Root Vegetable texture that may not look all that appealing but springs to life when mixed with Bone Marrow fortified Goat Curry and pickled Vegetables, the Mixed Grill of Tandoori skewered Meats was tender, moist and well flavored with sizzling Bell Peppers and Onions that made vaguely resembled Fajitas, a particularly amusing association as the arrival only shortly preceded a basket of soft Roti that had been ordered much earlier in the meal.
Not served the Vegetarian Curry advertised with Dhindo, listed pickles omitted with several other plates, it was not really a shock that no rice arrived with the Goat Bhootan and although the very concept of this dish will likely be met by disgust by most diners the diversity of flavors and textures found amidst stewed Goat Offal was actually quite exemplary, the minerality of liver at times a touch harsh while alveolar tubes presented like well cooked calamari, all beneath a bold veil of spicing.
Particularly impressed by Paneer Kulcha, soft pockets of cheese baked right into the soft bread, desserts were a bit disappointing, particularly as Saino was “sold out” of Gajar Halva that the table was still charged for, the Suji Haluwaa something never seen prior but faintly resembling polenta in its texture while Rice Pudding was watery and just fair-to-middling.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: A very worthwhile stop based only on the quality of cuisine, Saino Indian Nepali Kitchen’s failures by way of service even prove a challenge to those expecting nothing more than the basics. Not particularly ‘shocking’ in some ways, but at the same time not at all acceptable considering the omissions, overcharges and general lack of speed, one must assume the Lunch Buffet precludes some of these problems, though a la carte is the only way to order most of the more interesting and authentic Nepalese plates.
RECOMMENDED: Onion Bhajji, Aaloo Jeeraa, Dhindo, Goat Bhootan, Paneer Kulcha.
AVOID: Kheer, leaving without thoroughly perusing the bill.
TIP: Social Media offers 15% off discounts which just might cover all the overcharges. Dhindo should be requested in advance as the quoted cook time is 60 minutes, though given the general speed of service this should be fine provided a few plates are ordered at the same time.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.