Another Nepali-Indian restaurant joins a growing list in the Harrisburg region.
The latest is 99 Walnut Express, a combination restaurant and mini convenience store, which opened March 26 at 3406 Walnut St. in Susquehanna Township.
It takes over a building, recognized for a bright blue and green paint scheme where a series of different Asian restaurants have operated over the years.
“We want to provide a unique experience for the people and offer quality food,” said Khadga Mahat, who is assisting his uncle, owner Bal Basnet.
99 Express dishes out a full menu of traditional Nepali and Indian specialties, ranging from homemade naan breads to creamy chicken tikka masala, flavorful curries, rice-heavy biryani dishes, momo dumplings and chow mein “fried noodle” selections.
A smattering of tables fills the casual dining room. Off to the side, sit several video gaming machines and a shelf stocked with staples such as toilet paper, cereal and pastas for sale. The shop also sells candies and beverages ranging from energy drinks and sodas to water.
The family immigrated to central Pennsylvania in 2011 as part of a wave of Bhutanese refugees who came to the United States. The population base is conservatively estimated at 25,000 in south central Pennsylvania.
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Prior to opening the restaurant, Basnet operated a gas station in the York area but wanted to work closer to his Susquehanna Township home. The restaurant fit his needs. His wife Chandra Basnet prepares the authentic dishes alongside cook Tanka Guragai.
For now, they aim to cater to a mixed clientele and give a taste of home to Nepali and Indian residents as well as Americans who are increasingly drawn to the flavorful cuisine.
Mahat said chicken thuk-pa, a Himalayan soup made with onions, peppers, peas and a tomato sauce, is expected to become a signature dish.
Scores of appetizers such as samosas, pakora, 99 omelet with fried eggs, onions, chilies and spices and chicken wings marinated in yogurt and mild roasted in a clay oven spices are available. Naan is baked in a clay oven and sold in plain and garlic varieties.
Otherwise, the menu is broken into Indian and Nepali sections, with separate listings for goat and lamb, chicken, pork and vegetarian dishes. A cross-section of menu items includes lamb curry, pork thali, mixed bean curry, chili momo with sauteed onion and pepper with red chili sauce and chicken korma.
In the near future, Basnet plans to expand the store’s offerings to include milk, eggs and bread as a convenience for customers and open the restaurant for breakfast.
99 Walnut Express is open 11 am-9 pm Monday and Wednesday-Sunday. It is closed Tuesdays. Phone is 717-395-2654.