In June 2016, New Cumberland welcomed a new restaurant on the scene; one that would offer area diners a taste of Bhutanese and Nepalese cuisine.
You can’t miss the cheery red building at 213 N. Third St. The small, family-owned BYOB offers street parking, and when we pulled up last Saturday around noon, we had no trouble finding a convenient space.
The casual and intimate interior space accommodates about a dozen or so tables and is highlighted by bright red walls and Bhutanese decorations, including dozens of colorful banners strung across the ceiling.
As the only restaurant in central Pennsylvania serving Bhutanese and Nepalese cuisine from the Himalayas, it’s inevitable that diners will have more than a few questions, but Yak ‘N Yeti has got you covered. We were delighted to discover that the owner, who was also our server, welcomed our curiosity and was more than happy to address seasonings used in the cuisine.
As he explained the various dishes, he informed us that the cuisine features flavors from spices that are “grown in the garden,” and as such, they are a bit more nuanced than spices used in Indian cuisine, although customers are encouraged to tailor their orders to the amount of heat they prefer.
The manageable two-sided menu offers about a half-dozen “starters,” listing items like Himalayan onion rings smothered in chickpea batter and fried, a Bhutanese cucumber salad with cheese, a Himalayan spice mixture called Hoagi, and our choice of steamed dumplings called Momo, available with beef, chicken or as a vegetarian option ($6.55).
Diners can choose from a little more than a dozen entrees, with items like the vegetarian Ema-Datshi, known as the Bhutanese national dish and comprised of spicy chili peppers and smoked cheese; Noo Sha Paa, described by our server as “our meat and potatoes”; a vegetarian potato and spinach dish of Indian origin named Aloo Saag; and a deep-fried pork belly sautéed with onions, green peppers and tomatoes, listed on the menu as “pork chili.”
Because we were interested in sampling several items, we opted to share the lamb thali ($15.99) and sit back and relax with our cold Himalayan ice teas (served in a copper cup). The menu states that everything is prepared to order, but as it turned out, the wait wasn’t extensive.
Within 15 minutes we were presented with a serving of seven beef momo, which I prefer to describe as little pillows of flavor — light, tender, garlicky, moist, delicious and surprisingly filling. They hit the spot. The cilantro sauce served alongside for dipping was bright, fresh and a nice reminder that spring is just around the corner.
Next up came the tasting tray presented on an attractive copper serving dish. The platter included a variety of various delicacies from mustard greens, to curried cauliflower, potato salad made with a mustard base, pickled daikon radish, a lentil dish, a chickpea creation, chunks of lamb, a deeply flavorful moong (yellow) dal soup with roasted garlic and onion, and a generous serving of rice pudding spiced with cardamom called Kheer.
According to the owner, many people order the thali as their first foray into the cuisine, and he informed us that the samplings may vary according to the season.
Before we left I asked one last question about the flavoring in the Himalayan iced tea since I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. He said the mystery flavors were cardamom with a bit of ginger.
If you find yourself growing tired of the same old soup and sandwich routine, Yak ‘N Yeti is sure to please for a nice change of pace. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
Next Up: Dinner at Marcello’s Ristorante and Pizza in Carlisle