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$20 Dinner

Tuck Into a Fiery Feast at Sunnyside’s New Hotspot, Spicy Nepal

The team behind Woodside's shuttered Sumnima Kitchen are now serving Nepali favorites on 47th Avenue.

2:09 PM EDT on October 25, 2023

A selection of menu items from Sunnyside restaurant Spicy Nepal.
(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

When Bhawani Rai had to close Sumnima Kitchen in 2022, after six years of feeding his Woodside neighbors a wide range of Himalayan bangers, it broke his heart. "In the pandemic time, there was so much suffering," Rai told Hell Gate. "I had to leave that place." 

Fortunately for Rai, and for everyone in this part of Queens who loves a big-flavored feast, the setback proved to be temporary. Late last summer, he opened Spicy Nepal on 47th Avenue in Sunnyside. "I love cooking," said Rai. "I'm happy in this business, and I fell in love with Sunnyside. Everyone is fantastic, everyone here is helping me. They taste my food and they love it." 

Outside of Spicy Nepal in Sunnyside, Queens. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Just like at Sumnima Kitchen, there are some Indian offerings on the menu here in Sunnyside like vindaloo and butter chicken, as well as a few Japanese-influenced dishes like teriyaki. But for the most part, according to Rai, Spicy Nepal is more tightly focused on the dishes and flavors from his childhood home in the countryside of the Ilam district.

Cross section of the complimentary vegetable samosa. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

We made quick work of the complimentary deep-fried treats that hit the table shortly after we sat down: two pakoras and a hefty vegetable samosa that came with a couple of good sauces. Also delightful was the snacky mound of wai-wai sadeko, a heavily seasoned mix of crunchy fried noodles, puffed rice, and peanuts that's apparently (and understandably) especially popular with Nepali college kids. 

The mixed-meat thukpa, a noodle soup with endless variations throughout the Himalayan region, was excellent here. It's a whole, hearty meal swirling in a broth that's fiery enough to get you choking if you slurp it too fast. Like most of the dishes at Spicy Nepal, the thukpa is available in a vegetarian version, as well with just chicken, or pork, or beef. 

Wai-wai sadeko, $6.95. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)
Mixed meat thukpa, $12.95. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The choila, which Rai said is traditionally made with water buffalo back in Nepal, is served here as a very charred chicken dish. The texture of this bird was unexpectedly mushy, and the flavor startlingly bitter, but once we got our bearings, and with some help from Rai's sauces, we happily wolfed it all down. 

Chicken choila, $13.95. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Also tasting of smoke and fire was the lamb sekuwa, chunks of fatty, skewer-roasted meat served with lots of onions and a pile of puffed rice. Sides of white rice and roti are also available for an additional two bucks, and either of those might have been the way to go with these latter two dishes. 

Lamb sekuwa, $15.95. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Other Nepali favorites on the menu include dhindo, which is basically a doughy blob of porridge surrounded by pickles and curries; the chewy, jerky-like sukti (which is available in water buffalo); and, of course, platters of momos in many varieties. 

Prime seating in Spicy Nepal's backyard. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

There's no alcohol sold at Spicy Nepal, but the party of dudes eating and hanging near us brought in a couple of six packs of Heineken, and maybe you could too? Or just stick with chai, mango lassi, butter tea, or a can of Red Bull, all of which can and should be consumed in the restaurant's exceptionally pleasant back yard.

 Spicy Nepal is located at 39-35 47th Avenue, between 39th and 40th Streets, and is currently open from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. (917-745-0044)

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