I have a bit of a fascination with the Himalayas. When I was in High School I read lots of books about Tibet. I read about women walking solo in Tibet, the Dalai Lama’s autobiography, Vikram Seth’s walk from Tibet to India (through Nepal), Tenzing’s account of climbing Everest with Hillary and a book about a Chinese doctor travelling to Tibet because her husband had died there. I couldn’t get enough of it. The beautiful high mountains drew me in and I became interested in the Bhuddist culture. I was also intrigued by the idea of people living on rancid yak butter tea (it was always rancid in the travel books) with tsampa (ground barley). Now that I’m a coeliac I won’t be tasting the tsampa, but I jumped at the chance to try butter tea (although the butter was neither rancid nor from a yak). The opportunity came up because Tibetan butter tea features on the menu of the Yak and Yeti restaurant in Glebe. I was happy to hear we had a dinner scheduled at an untried restaurant, but once I’d seen the menu I was really excited.
I loved the pictures of Annapurna and Dhaulgiri on the walls. They certainly enhanced my hunger to see these mountains. Luckily my hunger for dinner could be satisfied more quickly with my first taste of Nepalese food. It is very similar to Indian food, but was mostly quite mild. There was a choice of basmati, chapatis or pilau to eat with. There was also fried rice, which was not like Chinese version, but it still seemed odd to have fried rice with curry.
We started with entrees. Most of them were deep fried, so I only tried the chicken. It had a beautiful barbequed flavour and went well with the hot roast chillis and capsicum. It was also served with dahl and rice flakes.
I’ve only got photos of some of the mains. My favourite was actually the dahl, which was quite watery and a little salty, but really warming and comforting. I didn’t get a photo though because it was eaten so quickly. Another interesting thing I noticed was that the goat meat was nicer than the lamb and didn’t have any bones. One of the lamb dishes was quite spicy, but the rest of the food was mild. The channa (chickpeas, pictured above) also had a touch of spice.
The mis mas was a bit disappointing since it tasted mostly of tomato and not much else. It had a good mix of coloured veggies though.
The aloo dish, with potato and bamboo shoots, was a mild curry. This is real Northern food, mild and homely. The only curry I noticed with coconut milk was a prawn one, which I guess must be a ring-in from somewhere with a coastline rather than landlocked Nepal.
Last but not least I want to tell you about the Tibetan butter tea. I’m sure your hanging out to find out what it was like and I was certainly anticipating the opportunity to live my dream. It arrived in a pot and it was very frothy!
The flavour of butter was there and the tea was just slightly salty. It was as if you’d taken a bite of buttered toast followed by a mouthful of milky tea. It wasn’t nearly as strange as I’d expected after all those books. I wonder if Yak and Yeti has toned down their tea for Sydney tastes, or if the travel books were spinning a good exaggerated yarn about foreign food. In any case it was exciting to try it, and quite pleasant to drink. I’ll certainly try it again when I get the opportunity.
Ratings (out of 5 snorts)