Thursday, January 19, 2012

Himalayan Yak 01-10-2012

Location: 72-20 Roosevelt Ave. Queens
Time: 7:30pm
People: 15 Ramen and Friends: ALev, MGru, MLev, JT, JBH, BLee, Effie, JLam-MeSoHungry, SaSha (check out here for her Butter Tea report), MaSha, Rich, Merry, Yasmin, RB and myself

Feelings: To celebrate the new year with friends, we headed out to Himalayan Yak in Jackson Heights, located right under the train tracks. With a name like this one, you would think they would be serving yak meat everywhere, but it was quite the contrary. It was present on the menu, but the availability was nonexistent.

Unfortunately, the service was incredibly slow and inattentive - so much so, that we had to pay extra for our babysitter. If you are a parent and going out to Himalayan Yak, make sure that your babysitter is available for an extra hour. Rich does not like being too critical of waiters, stating, "We're a surprisingly large group and I feel like there's language and cultural barriers between us and the people working at the restaurants we like to go to." But even he felt the server didn't know what to do or wasn't paying much attention. Effie noted that they were nice when they were actually serving, however.

Appetizers such as lollipop chicken ($5.99), mung-bean jelly and momos were well received at the table. The momos were ethereal yet greasy, and the skin to filling ratio was excellent. They were not outstanding by any means, but they were tasty regardless.

The three different dipping sauces were the highlight of the meal. "Although the orange one was a little too herbal for me, they each added some interesting flavor and heat if needed," said Merry.

While waiting for our meal, we enjoyed butter tea and tingmo, Tibetan steamed bread. The tea tasted much like a milder version of royal milk tea with a hint of saltiness. The bread was similar to Chinese bun without any filling or flavor whatsoever. It is interesting to taste something without any added flavor, and I enjoyed every bite of it. The American culinary scene is all about strong flavors, so it is refreshing to see subtle, or even nonexistent flavors. With other prominent flavors on the table, this bread provided an excellent ying-yang combination. Just don't let the soft, pillowy texture fool you since this is incredibly filling.

When it comes to entrees, there were mixed reviews. Since it took such a long time for them to serve us, our butter tea was cold, and there is nothing worse than cold butter juice. Even Paula Dean would not dare to drink such a thing. BLee and JBH's meat dishes were cold by they time they arrived. SaSha enjoyed her cauliflower and potato dish (Aloo Kauli Ko Tarkari, $6.99) describing, "had a nice spice and heat to it." Merry also liked the beef tongue ($11.99). "The meat was tender and the sauce was nice--just enough heat."

Gyathuk, the hand pulled noodle soup Yasmin and I ordered ($8.99) were hearty and tasty with subtle flavor. Since other dishes had occasional spunky flavors, this was a nice little break for my palate. The American cheese curry dish we tried was interesting and "tasted like something from Chili's," Rich said.

Overall, as BLee said, we are not sure if they presented a fair demonstration of Tibetan food. "Tibetan food is heavy and starchy because the climate is cold and most people there are engaged in physical labor that requires lots of calories--it was not memorable and not good value," she added. JBH also felt that it was "nothing that we'd specifically come over there for."

I felt that the carb and vegetable dishes here are excellent and well priced, but it would be wise to avoid the meat dishes since most of them were tough and some inedible. Perhaps they only know how to cook yak after all.

Himalayan Yak would be great if you are:
1) with a large group who does not mind waiting and could use some extra time to catch up.
2) a vegetarian who enjoys carb loading.
3) eager to watch interesting Himalayan programming on their TV monitor.
4) in love with butter in a liquid form.


Jose said...

The donkey on the zip line was definitely a highlight of the meal. The momos were my favorite of the evening. The tongue was tough compared to the steamed tongue tacos available just down the street.

Yosh. O said...

steamed tongue tacos!