[02/20/2015] Tonight, Mama Rae and I set off for an adventure to the Himalayas.. climbing the mighty Mt. Everest. Yeah I’m just kidding, we went to Yak & Yeti. xD
Yak & Yeti is a modern bistro in the Kitsilano district serving up Himalayan cuisine with their Nepalese specialties. You don’t find much Nepalese food here in Vancouver, so this was definitely something different. The name “Yak & Yeti” is a story in itself. “Yak” refers to the land animal and “Yeti” is the legendary giant snowman.
Check out the beautiful sky, so glad the days are finally getting longer!
Upon entering the place, we were struck by the aroma of spices, reminiscent of Indian spices. Evidently, Nepal’s cuisine has significant influence from India, and it also combines elements from its neighbouring Tibet.
The restaurant is long and narrow, with just around 10 tables or so off by the side. They only take reservations for larger parties, but according to the waitor when I called in prior to coming, there are generally seats available until it starts getting busy at around 7. We came at 6, happily finding ourself with a few choices of seats. By the time we were finishing, there was in fact a wait for tables.
There is a bar here as well.
There were two waiters on shift for the night, and the two seem to have contrasting attitudes. Whereas one seemed generally unconcerned, the other who took our orders and served us our food was warm, friendly and attentive. Seeing that it was our first time here, he offered useful recommendations and explained the dishes very well. On top of that, he periodically dropped by to ask how we were doing.
The menu is short and simple, perhaps a little too condensed.. As someone who is completely foreign to the Nepalese cuisine, I’m glad we got that nice introduction from the second waiter.
Judging by how long the food took to come, there was probably only one chef in the kitchen. We had a Groupon deal that required us to order two mains, but beside those, we wanted to give other dishes a try.
As an appetizer, we felt obligated to get the Momos, the first things on the menu labeled as the “favourite street food of the Himalayas”, which the waitor also recommended. Every culture seems to have their own version of dumplings, and Momos are the ones native to Nepal and Tibet. Although not much a dumpling person myself, I was rather intrigued by the idea of Yak Momo. They also had a vegetarian option with their Veggie Momo, With that said, we went for half and half. ($12)
The Yak Momos are small and round, filled with yak meat that is moist and juicy, despite being lean. Simply delicious. However, I didn’t like the Veggie Momo as much. It was a good mixture of tofu, cilantro, and veggies, but they arrived already falling apart and it was very difficult to eat.. Honestly, these are not much different from other steamed Chinese dumplings I’ve tried.. I would say the skin is just a little chewier. Accompanying these are two flavourful chutneys, one that is tomato based and the other I believe had mint and cilantro, along with their Y & Y soup. This is a bone broth with lots of chopped veggies, and a nice bit of heat. (4/5)
Moving onto our entrees, I went for their Jackfruit Curry ($14). I’ve never had jackfruit before, and apparently this is a customer favourite. There was generous amounts of jackfruit and potatoes, some peas, with the other vegetables mentioned on the menu were absent. This didn’t taste like curry at all, the base being very tomatoey and lacking in spices.. Given the options between mild, medium, and hot, I chose hot. Frankly, it was nowhere near even mild.. This was only an average dish that went well with rice. (2.5/5)
Here’s a closeup of the green jackfruit used, and you can totally see how it works as a meat substitute. To me, the texture resembles a more soft, fibrous version of pineapples. Flavour wise, it absorbed what was in the sauce. Pretty interesting!
Mama Rae ordered the Goat Pickle ($15), in the spirit of Year of the Goat ahaha. I’m not sure where the “pickle” of the name comes into play, because nothing here seems to be actually pickled. Instead, it was just some bone-in goat slow cooked in herbs and spices. Compared to mine, this was slightly more spicy, but still not the “hot” we had asked for. The meat itself was very tender, Mama Rae pointed that a lot of the pieces were largely bones though. (3.5/5)
Our entrees came with a choice of either white or brown rice, and a side salad of carrots and lettuce that was dressed some sort of a sweet and sour vinaigrette. The rice was actually very nicely done, it was soft and fluffy, and even the brown rice didn’t feel dry.
The food was only mediocre but it was fun to try a whole new cuisine. If you’re looking for milder alternatives to what is typically found in an Indian restaurant, you might like what you find here. The atmosphere, with the comfortable seating, dim lights, and soothing music, created an all in all enjoyable experience.
My Groupon had a $25 value to it (purchased for around $16), so our bill came down to less than 20 dollars. To be quite honest, I probably wouldn’t pay full price for the food again.