Restaurant Review: Yeti – The Himalayan Kitchen

A friend had introduced us to Yeti a couple of years back. Yeti, then, was a small, somewhat cramped little restaurant in Hauz Khas. We went there for lunch with our friend, liked what we ate, told ourselves we’d be back—but never actually got around to returning, just because the logistics were all stacked against another trip. Hauz Khas has become notoriously crowded over the past few years; parking is a pain; and it is, anyway, not all that close to where we stay.

It was therefore with great joy that we greeted the news that Yeti had now opened in Greater Kailash too—less than half an hour from our home, and with ample parking space. Come Sunday, we decided we had to go check it out to see if it was as good as the Hauz Khas one.

Inside Yeti.

Inside Yeti.

First impressions: this is a far nicer space. It’s more roomy than the Hauz Khas restaurant (which, considering the paucity of space in Hauz Khas, came as no surprise to me). Seating is on two levels, with the upper floor forming a sort of balcony around a high ceiling from which hang tall cylindrical paper lampshades with Tibetan characters (the sacred verse Om mani padme hum, according to someone on an online forum). The walls are stark brick on one side, textured swirls of beige on the other, with very minimal splashes of art to jazz it up: stylish photographs of Tibetan monks, thangkas, Buddhist art, and so on. Elegant, yet with a comforting charm to it that stops it from being intimidating.

At Yeti, a view of part of the interior.

At Yeti, a view of part of the interior.

Looking up at the upper floor of Yeti.

Looking up at the upper floor of Yeti.

Yeti was fairly empty when we arrived, and we opted for a table on the ground floor. As soon as we were seated, a waiter came by with menus (the wait staff, by the way, wear deliciously neat Nepali outfits, waistcoats and caps included). Water was poured for us while we had a look through the menu. Yeti’s claim—the ‘Himalayan kitchen’—is well-founded, because the cuisines it offers ranges from Nepali to Tibetan, to Bhutanese, all the way to the food of the North-East. There are the dishes most Delhi-wallahs would be familiar with: the thukpas and momos, the noodles, even—to some extent—the shapta. Fortunately, there are also lots of less familiar menu items, the sort of things I’ve only heard of earlier, like the aloo ka achar, the Bhutanese ema datshi (a stew of cheese and chillies), and so on.

After much dithering—everything sounded mouthwatering—we decided we’d only have a main course. Doh nai (a pork curry with a gravy based on black sesame seeds; it’s also known as doh neong, and was something we’ve eaten before, at the Meghalaya food stall at Dilli Haat); steamed rice; and fried spinach (the waiter assured us that it was more like a sautée, not deep-fried and crisp). With that, we ordered homemade lemonade.

Even before the lemonade was served, a complimentary starter was placed on our table: a small plate of aloo sadeko, diced potatoes sautéed in a spicy, somewhat nutty sauce. This was a fiery orange in colour, and delicious.

Aloo sadeko at Yeti: a complimentary starter.

Aloo sadeko at Yeti: a complimentary starter.

We made quick progress with this, until our lemonade was brought. (A word about the lemonade: this is a drink I invariably order whenever I go out to dine, and while almost everybody makes a passable lemonade—or fresh lime soda—very few manage to make a lemonade that my palate actually remembers. Amici does, and so does Yeti. Just the right blend of sweet and salt and lime, and lots of ice).

On the heels of the lemonade came a trio of chutneys, served up in three little bowls of white china. The waiter named them for us: a red chilli chutney; a peanut chutney; and a sesame seed chutney. He warned us that of the three, the sesame seed chutney was the only one that was mild; the other two were hot. Both my husband and I gave the red chilli chutney a wide berth: it certainly looked fierce. The peanut chutney, which I ate later with some rice, had a deceptively pleasant, peanutty flavour at first, but kicked in with the chilli after a few seconds. Delicious, but not for the faint of heart. The sesame seed chutney, soothing and nutty and wonderful, was our favourite.

Chutneys at Yeti: a fiery red chilli one, a deceptively mild-looking peanut one, and a lovely, gentle sesame seed one.

Chutneys at Yeti: a fiery red chilli one, a deceptively mild-looking peanut one, and a lovely, gentle sesame seed one.

The food arrived after about 20 minutes (and, to our surprise—this isn’t something that often happens in Delhi restaurants—a few minutes before it was served, our waiter came by to tell us, of his own accord, that the food would “take another 5 minutes”).

The doh nai, if you didn’t know what it was, couldn’t be easily identified by merely looking at it. The thick gravy (and it merely coated the meat; there wasn’t loads of liquid sloshing about) was such a deep green, it was almost black. The flavour was fantastic, too: rich, warm, nutty, yet not heavy in the cream-and-butter way that many North Indian curries tend to be. And not overly spicy and hot, as a number of dishes from the North East can be. Also, what particularly appealed to me was the quality of the meat and the quantity, in both of which care had obviously been taken to cater to an audience that might like pork, but might not want it as fatty as is typical in traditional North Eastern cooking. There was fat, of course, but in relatively small proportions, with lean (yet succulent) meat predominating. And the portion size itself was intelligently calculated: just right for two people.

Lunch at Yeti: rice, doh nai, fried spinach.

Lunch at Yeti: rice, doh nai, fried spinach.

My husband, who hadn’t seemed very keen on the fried spinach (this was something I had insisted upon ordering), got a pleasant surprise when the spinach arrived. This was whole leaf spinach, lightly cooked with dried red chillies and possibly chopped garlic and ginger—I couldn’t tell from the flavour, which was very subtle. On the side came a large helping of a fresh undressed salad of shredded lettuce, purple cabbage and julienned carrots.

Doh nai with rice and fried spinach (and lots of salad).

Doh nai with rice and fried spinach (and lots of salad).

Eaten along with the rice (and some of that fabulous sesame seed chutney), this was a great meal. Good comfort food, delicious, and with the light spinach balancing out the richness of the doh nai. By the time we finished, we were too full to order a dessert. I must admit that the choice of desserts also didn’t really appeal to me; there were traditional Himalayan desserts, but these sounded too grain-rich for me to have on what was already quite a full stomach. There were a range of ice creams (including strawberry cheesecake, Belgian chocolate, and crème brulée), but it somehow seemed blasphemous to order one of these after a true-blue Himalayan meal! (The crux of the matter, too, was that we just didn’t have space for dessert).

But we’ll come back later, perhaps with a larger group, family or friends, so that we can taste more of the food on the Yeti menu. This is definitely a place I want to frequent more. It’s smart but friendly, the ambience is very pleasant (the music—good pahari tunes—certainly adds to the charm of the restaurant), and the food is superb. Plus, considering we paid only Rs 1,356 for our meal, this is probably among the cheapest dining options—in this category of sit-down restaurant—in Greater Kailash. Very, very well worth the money.

Yeti – The Himalayan Kitchen
M-20, Greater Kailash Part 2
M Block Market
Tel: 011-41657867, 41657868

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