A Taste of Yeti Restaurant
Chef-owner Narayan Somname has been wowing diners with his Indian-Nepalese cooking at his Glen Ellen restaurant since 2008. Then, in 2015, he opened a second location in Santa Rosa, to equally eager crowds. Both spots boast similar menus of highly fragrant, comforting South Asian specialties, prompt service and reasonable prices. But the Santa Rosa location is bigger, brighter and more formal, while the Glen Ellen spot is rustic, dark in some spaces, and charmingly quirky.
Both places are terrific. This snapshot looks at the Glen Ellen spot, a neighborhood favorite that’s usually packed with regulars coming in for tender tandoori meats brightened with annatto-hued paste, silky curries, and vegetarian feasts like bindi masala of fresh Sonoma garden okra cooked with onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger and house blend spices ($11).
Tucked in an old wood, creekside building that used to be part of a water-powered grist mill operation, the warren of three small dining rooms welcomes guests with Yeti (Abominable Snowman) "footprints" painted on the concrete floor. Close-set tables sit amid cluttered with Nepal figurines, framed art, hanging lamps and antique cookware.
My group had reserved seats on the patio, set with views of the gardens above Sonoma Creek – and reservations are recommended, for the narrow 20-seat main dining room, too.
Everything. After many years’ visiting, I’ve never had a bum dish. This time, we started with samosa, the baseball size deep-fried pastries stuffed with dryish mashed potatoes and peas for moistening in sweet-tart tamarind-mint, chile or cilantro sauce ($6.99). Fair warning, the chile is powerful stuff, making even our spice-loving dude’s eyes water.
We also got the prawn pakoras, a basket of shelled shrimp dipped in a lightly spiced garbanzo flour batter and best dipped in tamarind-mint sauce ($12.99). And we shared chicken momo, pretty, bright green flour dumplings stuffed with minced chicken and Himalayan spices, steamed in Newari style and dunked in cilantro sauce ($8.99).
You can share entrees, with curries served in small silver tureens, and tandoori served on sizzling metal trays set into wood carriers. They’re all good, especially the dal makhani, where lentils are simmered overnight over glowing embers in the tandoori in a stew of onions, chile, ginger, cream and butter ($9.99). Served piping hot under a garnish of cilantro, tomatoes and sprout beans, it’s superb when sopped up with their naan (which is excellent) ($2.99) baked golden, light and pliant and dotted with butter or garlic ($3.99).
For the curries, order a side of steamed rice ($2.99) to serve as a base for such signatures as chicken saag, a Punjab classic stocked with chopped fresh spinach, fenugreek, fennel, onions and garlic ($15.95), or prawn masala, where black tiger prawns are coated in a luscious gravy of onions, tomatoes, mustard seed, curry leaves, a dash of red chile, and coconut milk ($22.95).
One person in our group prefers mild dishes, so she was happy with the methi machli fish kebab, toothsome fillets of mahi mahi marinated in yogurt, tomatoes, garlic and just a touch of Himalayan spices, skewered and roasted in the charcoal fired tandoori. For this dish, we shared naan spread with both butter and honey ($3.99), and a side of raita, cucumber and yogurt mildly touched with pepper, coriander and cumin ($4.99).
Nearly all the entrees are gluten free.
My go-to is always the rasmalai, the soft cheese dumpling “paneer” dumplings immersed in sweetened creamy milk and flavored with green cardamom and pistachios ($5.99). It’s the perfect balance of sweet and savory, softness and crunch.
The wine list is extensive, and features plenty of Sonoma County labels.
Details:14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707- 996-9930, yeticuisine.com. Also 190 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-521-9608.