The sleek and modern interior of Yak and Yeti, located in Ball Square in Somerville, is not what you think of when you think of an authentic Nepali and Indian restaurant. There are no Hindu gods and goddesses adorning the walls, no images of traditional Nepali life. Instead, owner Amrit Thakali has chosen to concentrate on making his food as authentic and delicious as possible. And boy did he succeed.
Amrit Thakali was born in the western part of Nepal. After moving to Los Angeles in 1998 he eventually found his way to Punjab Restaurant in Arlington, MA. Though in Nepal he had been a soldier, Amrit was successful at the restaurant business in the United States, and moved quickly from becoming manager at Punjab Restaurant to opening his first restaurant in Alston/Brighton called Mount Everest Kitchen. The success of this business prompted him to open Yak and Yeti in Somerville and to concentrate on Nepali food.
As a lover of Indian food I was sorely tempted to order off of the more familiar side of the menu with many of my favorite Indian dishes. Yet I decided to try something new, so Aloo Bodi Tama it was. Despite many people’s familiarity with Indian food, Amrit says that around half of his customers try the Nepali dishes, whether it is from the menu, or from their weekday lunch buffet. One of the primary reasons for this, he thinks, is because of the healthfulness of Nepali food, in comparison to Indian food. Though he thinks that both cuisines are delicious, he says that Nepali food puts less emphasis on cream and oils than Indian food, making it better for you. He serves both on his menu because of the relative lack of knowledge about Nepali food.
My willingness to overcome this barrier was well worth it. Aloo Bodi Tama is a traditional Nepali dish served with black eye beans and bamboo shoots. The combination of spices and interesting ingredients created a mouth-watering dish. Some of the ingredients in the dish, and many in his other dishes, are so specialized that Amrit needs to bring them over from Nepal. In this dish it was the bamboo shoots that really surprised me. Not only were they delicious, but I had never encountered them in any of my culinary adventures in South Asian cuisine. Tama is the Nepali word for fermented bamboo shoots. It is an ingredient used frequently in Chinese cuisine, but what makes its use in Nepali cuisine different is that it is cooked in a curry. This use represents a blending some of the best aspects of different South Asian cuisines into a very unique Nepali cuisine.
For all of the South Asian food aficionado’s out there, Yak and Yeti represents a fusion of all of the best aspects of South Asian foods into one delectable Nepali restaurant.