Taste the nations, without leaving Concord

  • Bubble tea – a milky, sweet kind of tea with boba, or chewy little black balls, in the bottom – is popular at the Thai restaurant Siam Orchid.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Sesame balls are just one of the numerous authenically Chinese din sum dishes available at Sunshine Oriental.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • ABOVE : A place of veggie momos – Nepali dumplings – from Katmandu Bazaar. ELODIE REED / Monitor staff

  • Katmandu Bazaar also sells spices, sweets, fruit, vegetables, teas, meat and many other foods native to foriegn places including India, Tibet and Nepal and various parts of Africa.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, May 05, 2016

You’re hankering to be somewhere exotic, somewhere with different sights, smells and tastes, but can’t get outside of the Concord area.

You are, well, not exactly in luck, but you have options. You can visit one of Concord’s restaurants serving authentic, international food. Take your pick: Chinese, Nepali, Mediterranean, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Italian and more.

Not sure where to go? I did a little research for you and took a local, international tour through town recently.

With a companion for company (and help eating everything), we began at Katmandu Bazaar, a combined grocery store, goods shop and little restaurant in the Lamplighter Plaza on Loudon Road. As soon as you walk through the door, you’ve left New Hampshire behind for this colorful, exotic, incense-scented place.

Food goods from all around the world line the shelves, and on Thursdays, fresh fruit and vegetables that the store owner, Karma Gonpo, buys in Boston early that morning line the shelves.

If you wander toward the back, you’ll find the bar and a small eating area. We asked the chef – Palchure Lama – what was popular, and he suggested the vegetable momos. These little dumplings are small but filling and delicious with the house sauces.

The next stop, Sunshine Oriental, was a very short drive away – it’s also on Loudon Road. You’re greeted by Tina Zen – the supervisor and wife of owner Yon Yung – who eagerly helps you decide which dish to order. The restaurant serves authentic Chinese cuisine including dim sum, a Cantonese food tradition prepared in smaller portions.

We decided on sesame balls and sticky rice, and took them to go to eat outside. The sesame balls are hard to describe – they’re chewy and sweet, slightly crunchy on the outside and filled with lotus nut paste on the inside. As for the rice – it comes wrapped in a large lotus leaf, which Zen warned several times that you do NOT eat.

Inside the leaf was the rice in a little square, and inside the rice was meat in a slightly sweet, savory sauce which was quite good.

Feeling pretty full at this point, we decided to make our last stop at Siam Orchid on Main Street for some bubble tea. While the restaurant sells traditional Thai food, it also samples from other parts of southeastern Asia. Bubble tea is Taiwanese, and is milky, sweet, poured over ice and served with boba.

The boba, also known as tapioca balls, are slightly warm and chewy, but pair nicely with the aromatic drink. This makes for a good post-meal treat.

World traveling is always more tiring, time consuming (and in this case, stomach-filling) than you expect, so I didn’t get to every last place in Concord. That’s your job now – make sure to give these places a visit (and a taste) too:

House of India on Pleasant Street

Old Europe Mediterranean Fine Dining on Main Street

Gyro House on Main Street

Aissa Sweets on North State Street

Angelina’s Ristorante Italiano on Depot Street

Hermanos Cocina Mexicana on Hills Ave

Bon voyage and bon appetit!

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)