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Make the Trek to Yeti Restaurant

Glen Ellen isn't as far away from Santa Rosa as the Himalayas, certainly. But for folks in central and west Sonoma County, it might feel like a trek winding their way to Jack London Village.

So in good news for the naan-famished, a second Yeti opened this spring in the former Lyon’s restaurant space on Hwy. 12 at Farmer’s Lane in Santa Rosa. Like the original, it’s a tribute to traditional southern Asian specialties, in a Nepalese-Indian fusion accented with Sonoma County seasonal produce, meats and seafood.

Since early 2008, chef-owner Narayan Somname has drawn savvy diners to his hidden-away Glen Ellen spot, and here, it shines just as bright, in tender tandoori meats swathed in richly seasoned annatto-hued paste, fragrant curries, and silky masalas.

Still, this is a more sophisticated setting, in a large, airy room done in brocade chairs, gold trimmed ceilings, lots of dark polished wood, and a gracious, mirror-backed bar. Call it Yeti-Glen-Ellen’s dressed up sister.

A tandoori is a large, urn-like pot made of clay, our server explained, where staples are entombed to earn their slightly smoked flavor and toothsome texture. This, we already knew, but it was pleasing how, throughout our meal, she offered suggestions amid the lengthy menu, and encouraged us to try dishes she figured most Americans might not be familiar with.

The Nepalese momo ($8.99), for example, which are six, golf-ball size dumplings bursting with minced chicken and spicy, savory broth. Take a bite, scoop up the wayward poultry bits and juices with steamed cabbage, and add a bit of mint sauce for extra zing. The vegetarian version is good, too, the flour veggie-stained a pretty light green ($7.99).

Prawn pakoras, too, are excellent, the seafood dipped in a lightly spiced garbanzo flour batter, quick fried and served with tamarind-mint sauce ($12.99).

Then, there’s the chana pindi ($9.99) an “it grows on you” Rawalpindi style recipe of garbanzo beans cooked with mango powder and Indian spices. The whole beans are soft inside, gently crisp outside, and the flavors are intriguingly fruity-sour.

By contrast, potato, green pea and bell pepper-stuffed samosa are mainstream ($6.99), as is the dal lentil cream soup ($5.95). Quiet comfort food.

The best approach is to share, which is easy to do with generously portioned entrées. With one plate per person, you’ll still get leftovers, meaning a good bang for the buck for even the most expensive plate, which is the lobster masala cloaked in a sumptuous gravy of coconut cream, tomatoes, fresh torn basil, white wine and a dash of fiery red chile ($35.99).

The mixed tandoori platter ($24.99) is satisfying taste tour, delivering prawn tandoori, lamb boti kebab, fish tikka and chicken tikka all on a bed of onions, bell peppers and tomato. There are surprises to be enjoyed, such as a garlic, ginger, yogurt and cheese marinade plus lemon sauce for the shrimp, and a bit of melted smoky cheddar on the lamb boti. Add in some naan baked to order (I prefer the garlic, but in a nod to Wine Country, there’s an olive basil version, too, both $3.99), some basmati rice ($2.99) plus a mix of pickles ($2.50), and it’s a feast.

The timid eater in my group went for mild spicing, with yogurt-coated mahi mahi kebabs ($19.99), but picked happily, too, at the medium lamb curry ($22.99) of tender, slow-cooked shank piquant with tomatoes, onions, ginger, cardamom and just enough chile for oomph. I ordered the chicken vindaloo ($15.99) spicy, and it was, tempered a bit with sweet and sour tamarind chutney. The saag paneer ($11.95), meanwhile, brings a creamy spinach and farmer’s cheese stew kissed with a slow-gathering burn.

After all this, will you want dessert? Yes, if it’s gulab jamun ($4.99), which are milk-based spongy-dough balls doused in rose syrup and sprinkled in green cardamom, or the slightly sweet coconut saffron rice pudding ($5.99) dusted in toasted cashew. They’re light, refreshing, and delicious.

With such a rainbow of flavors in such a convenient-to-many location, Yeti is a best bet.

Details: 190 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-521-9608. Also 14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-996-9930, www.yeticuisine.com.

Find more info about things to do in Sonoma County here.

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