written by Isaac Peterson

Chef Tenzin Sherpa moved from Kathmandu, Nepal, to Bend, Oregon. We got to spend a few moments with him recently. We wondered what it was like to hike both the Himalayas and the Cascade mountain range.

Fare at Himalayan Bites seems strikingly new, though the ingredients are humble and familiar. Who would have thought a plate of potatoes could have such a fresh, exciting taste? Tenzin’s secret is: “cook from your heart, make what you love.” That’s evident in everything he makes. The potatoes taste so unique because he wouldn’t let them sit around in the fridge all day. His preparation starts right after you order, and every dish he serves communicates his care for the cooking process and his passion to share the Nepalese comfort food of his childhood.

Stop by his food cart in the Spoken Moto lot, and you’ll probably see him rolling out dough for dumplings by hand between orders, occasionally holding a transparent sheet of dough up to the sunlight to check its consistency. Dumplings are one of those simple foods that change radically over time. One of Tenzin’s fresh dumplings, created and steamed within a few minutes of an order, is categorically superior to any pre-made version. Tenzin’s dumplings are a sublime experience. The dough is perfectly textured, fresh and moist, and the seasoning in the filling is perfectly balanced. After the first succulent bite it’s clear that you’ve never had anything like this, although it seems homey and familiar.

The Nepalese spice profiles are simple. Tenzin uses mostly garlic and ginger. These ordinary spices simply reveal the freshness of his ingredients and the sensitivity and intelligence of his cooking process. The spices simply clarify the simple beauty of the dishes.

His advice seems deceptively simple: Cook with your heart and put your soul into it. The seriousness of Tenzin’s commitment to that simple rule has produced a culinary experience like no other. Tenzin’s cooking creates a unique bridge between mountain ranges on opposite sides of the globe. His tiny food cart is a gateway from the Cascades to the Himalayas.