Thursday, 22 March 2012

Yeti, Cowley Road

So far food blogging hasn't brought me too much fame or fortune, but it did mean that when a couple of old friends came to Oxford for a visit this week, they asked me to choose somewhere for a group meal. I toyed with old favourites like Mario's and Qumins, but following my discovery of the Nepalese momo van at Gloucester Green on market day, I was intrigued by reports of a restaurant some way down the Cowley Road, serving not merely dumplings but a full Nepalese menu. My hunch (backed up by some very positive reviews) paid off: our meal at Yeti was, on the whole, impressive.
Yeti also serves traditional Indian dishes, but these are hardly in short supply in east Oxford and we didn't try any (apart from the side orders). As the menu didn't include any notes on Nepalese food and what makes it special, though I'm sure the very attentive and friendly couple in charge would have advised us, we just ordered what sounded good. We concluded that, if nothing else, the cuisine of Nepal is not for those who shy away from spicy food. 

Eager to see how the momos here compared to the dumplings from the van, I had the lamb momos (£3.25) as a starter and also sampled the vegetarian variety (£2.95). Both were markedly hot, as was the chutney served with them, and the vegetable version in particular was (in the words of the Administrator) 'unexpectedly spicy and a shell that was gelatinous without being gluey'. The meat ones were a little dry and the filling had detached from the case, but they were different from and more delicate than the Gloucester Green ones, rather than inferior.

 (Unfortunately the lighting wasn't great for photos this week; that strange colour-washed look is entirely accidental)
The menu also included the longest list of side dishes I've seen for a while: a generous bowl of lemon rice and another flavoured with cumin, both £2.25, were particularly good, and various nan breads had a crunchy base and billowy top. Chicken Chokta (marinated with yoghurt and spices, £7.25), served in a 'sizzler' and brought to the table sizzling enthusiastically, was acclaimed for being 'perfectly cooked'. The Rim Jhim Duck (shredded confit duck served with chillies, onions and peppers, £8.95) was light and tasty, although the Administrator felt that its extreme heat threatened to overpower the flavour.
My Yeti Ko Bahar (marinated lamb steak with rice and vegetables, £11.95) was delicious. The vegetables came in an unexpectedly hot sauce, the rice was fluffy, and the lamb itself a perfect interplay of melting pink interior and chargrilled exterior. The Photographer enjoyed his Patan Masu (spiced chicken with green chillies, peppers and tomatoes, £7.25), which came with a sauce that was both tangy and spicy. Quati Dall (mixed beans cooked in herbs and spices, £5.25) was good, and the Royal Gurkha Mix (£10.95) proved as imposing as its name: it was a heaped mixed grill of several cuts of meat cooked in the clay oven (Poleko Parikar). 

So we enjoyed our taste of Nepalese cooking, although it was a good thing that most of us like spicy food: the menu from which we ordered - unlike the one on the website - doesn't warn diners of the relative heat of each dish. As I implied above, some kind of general introduction might also have been helpful, especially as over 70 dishes are on offer. Still, we had a enjoyable evening (though that was also thanks to the conversation: do you know when hand grenades were invented?). Yeti certainly offers something a little different from the standard Cowley Road curry, and I'm relieved that this time my instinct was right.

287 Cowley Road, OX4 1XG
01865 295959


Yeti Nepalese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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