What: Nepalese & Indian cuisine
Where: Magdalen Street/St Botolphs, Colchester
How Much: from £20 a head for beers, popadums and two courses
Overall: an undeniable 10/10
It’s always nice to be asked round for dinner, so an inbox invite from a flourishing curry house in the home town just after Christmas was well received from this blogger. A little more research showed Yak and Yeti to have popped up in a just-off town centre location that has housed a number of restaurants over the years, most of which have carried a reasonable reputation. On first impression, the Yak and Yeti appeared to have pulled up the previous standard expected, and the new hat attitude is evident to see here. I will say now that I am talking about their Colchester incarnation, there are some sister restaurants across the country though it is not immediately apparent if they are run as a chain or some kind of franchise option. The decor in the Colchester site is unashamedly striking and lavish with bold, bright panels of colour and frankly fabulous chairs which I will have in my own dining hall when the Mr finally wins the lottery and buys me my mansion in Sicily. Where was I?
Right, food! I kicked off with the traditional Momo starter- a Nepalese dish of steamed dumplings, stuffed with lamb (or you can have veg or chicken) and served with a chuffin marvelous vegetable chutney. I was steered towards these by the manager on the assurance that I would not find them anywhere else in town and afterall, one can get an onion bhaji anywhere! I do love an onion bhaji, but I was happy to be overruled to get these delicately spiced and surprisingly light little parcels of goodness. I initially regretted the agreement with the Mr that we would go halfsies on our starters, although the tandor chicken trio was equally impressive with some punchy and cleansing chutney sides and a little pile of crispy bits of something which were possibly the best addition to a spicy chicken plate that could ever be dreamed up. Marvelous.
I arrived with the intentions of trying some of the impressive range of vegan dishes available but was unable to resist the call of a couple of meaty curries in the end, though I can shout out to veegs to go for the Daal Tarka- lentils, garlic, green chilli and coriander- which was utterly delicious scooped up with some paratha (ask if they can leave out the ghee if you’re not into animal produce).
The menu has a good range of meat, seafood and veggie curries ticking all the standard expected boxes from Korma to Jalfrezy and back again, plus some larger complete meal options of a curry, bread, side and rice. I will be back to test the value of these soon. For now, I can recommend the Lamb Xacuti for the hot heads out there. This is a Goan dish that predominantly starts with a strong fennel hit developing through anise and dark spices with a lot of chilli at the end. Wowza. This is exactly how hotter curries should be delivered- with a stealth punch of heat coming through from the surrounding big flavours. Fantastic.
On the milder end of the scale is the Ghurkali chicken, a mild but still busy dish of chicken cooked with tomatoes and super secret Nepalese herbs. I could have eaten this all day, if only to try and put my finger on what was in there other than mint and coriander. Very complex but mild, one for Korma fans who might dare to step away from the cream sauce.
The staple offerings of poppadums & chutney and pilau rice are all well executed and their bread basket option is a mild slice of genius for the indecisive- mixing up a few bits of paratha and different naans for those who can’t commit to a single dough source. It’s a good amount of carbohydrates though, and sharing one of these between two of us was ambitious at best, even for two greedy people on a Friday night. The Mr was almost weeping as he unsuccessfully tried to dust off the peshwari.
And you wash it all down with a couple of Gurkha beers, because why wouldn’t you?!?!?! It is all very well for me to sit here and say This Was A Good Curry, you can get a good curry in plenty of places around Colchester but the overwhelming impression I have of Yak and Yeti is that this is the place to stray out of your comfort zone and try something a bit different. Head down there, spend some time looking through the menu and change it up a bit. Enjoy the decor and the friendly staff and don’t be afraid to ask for some help navigating away from your usual safety order. Or, if you don’t want to get dressed or sit up straight, you will find them on Just Eat for local delivery too. The Mr has asked me to give a final mention (as he mentioned several times at the table) to the meat. Specifically, the preparation of truly buttery, fall apart lamb in the Xacuti and particularly succulent chicken in the trio starter. As he put it, you don’t really need your teeth!
Top marks, Yak and Yeti, thank you so much for having us!