It’s no footprint in the snow. But last week, trawling past the dingy lane where all of Bandra’s teenagers congregate on weekends to drink Simba and eat their body weight in grease, we got a little sense of snow. Imagine our delight when the guys who run Delhi favourite Yeti, confirm that a sighting of their sign in Khar is legit: they’re now serving their storied Himalayan food in the same building that houses Raasta and Khar Social.
However, if you have fond memories of a small, warm Tibetan café offering cheerful shelter from foggy Hauz Khas Village evenings, brace yourself. Yeti Mumbai is an open-air, ground-floor corridor that’s open to the elements. As you well know, in our city in May, all elements are unsavoury. The alternative is at hand: senior HKV import Raasta is glassed-in, air-conditioned, and also serves the Yeti menu. (You may find this confusing. Please don’t. Its not even the most confusing situation in which Yeti has found itself.)
Well, where won’t we go for a taste of that crispy spinach and tingmo again? It is precisely this that we roll up our sleeves and call for first, only to be immediately disappointed. The Delhi Yeti offers a bouquet of translucently fried leaves, sweetened by crispy onion, waiting to be pillowed on cheese-white loaves of soft, steamy yeasty buns. Perhaps exhausted by its adventure into the tropics, this Yeti offers a mere smattering of its robust Delhi counterpart -- it tastes good, but is gone even before the tough, yellowing old tingmo makes an appearance.
Aloo momos, generously cheesy, are accompanied by silken sesame chutney and two more fiery condiments: again, not exactly what we’re used to, but a success all the same. The marriage of Raasta and Yeti begins to make sense: we can’t imagine a more perfect bar snack. A fried “dry” egg thukpa turns out to be just chowmein, absent the more traditional soup; again, not bad at all for a drunken night out. Best of all is a gluttonous ema datchi, the indulgent Indian version of Bhutan’s famous chilly-and-cheese curry: it will make you wish you had the stomach of a 23 year old, and eat like one even if you don’t.
It’s our first visit and we’re eager to eat old favourites, so a lot gets left out of this lunch. It’s also far too hot to eat Yeti’s more complex offerings, which have kept us warm on many a winter evening in Delhi: the rich, spicy and complex non-vegetarian Nepali thali; Tibetan blood sausage called gyuma; shabalay, fried meat dumplings; and buff thukpa.
We were among the first to be served when Yeti opened in Bandra this weekend, and couldn’t help but notice signs of a general unpreparedness, including widespread confusion about the menu; slow service (thanks to the staff’s unfamiliarity with the food?); and, it must be said, a distinctly unpleasant summer smell wafting through the empty, sweaty ground floor. We say this to warn you, not to discourage. We’ve rarely wanted a restaurant to succeed quite like this one, and we’d like this snowman to stick around until winter, and beyond.
Getting there: Ground floor, Rohan Plaza, 5th floor, Khar. The Yeti menu is also available at Raasta, on the fourth floor. A meal for three with no drinks costs around Rs 1,500.
Accessibility: High steps to the ground floor with no ramp; elevator not wheelchair-enabled.
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