The moveable feast: Thank God it’s Thaiday... everyday
If Thamel is the stomach of Kathmandu, then Yin Yang is its beating heart.
Martin Kromer has been seeing to it that his restaurant (a joint Nepali-Swiss venture) maintains it’s reputation for the finest in Thai cuisine and the latest in Kathmandu goings on.
At Yin Yang you meet ambassadors in the small garden outside the Rana Rococo rooms that house a little Thailand.
… and we began our quest for perfection with Martin and Chef Khun Deng (Khun means friend) pinching a little excellence due to go to the Thai embassy. It was steamed fish with curry paste and coconut milk. Underlying Thai spices spread through the mouth and we were hit by a battery of gentle flavours. Says Thai Authority Angela Nahas, “Fresh coriander, chilies, garlic, coconut, fish sauce and citrus flavourings are the six ingredients to use.” The Satay was marinated grilled chicken on skewers served with peanut sauce and cucumber and carrot relish that was almost Indian with its touch of lemon.
You keep the chicken in a marinade of seven ingredients ranging from coconut milk to white pepper and for the peanut sauce you have 11 flavours mixed together including brown sugar and cumin. And you relish each taste. The Thai spring roll, crisp outside with a softness of chicken ginger and other magical things, is eaten with the peanut sauce. But best of all in the starters is the Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs, which are marinated in just four delicacies and then barbecued into delicious miraculousness.
Instead of the always brilliant Tom Yam Kung, we had a soup with chicken and vegetables, which was a classic, combining glass noodles with minced chicken, sliced mushroom and mixed vegetables. The flavours ran from vinegar to lemon to a wonderful guessing elusiveness. Famous Chef Madhur Jaffrey says, “I love Thai curries with an unholy passion. They tend to start off with a hand-pounded curry paste containing chilies, shallot, garlic, lemon grass...”
We understood exactly what she meant when we tasted Penang Curry with its balance between red curry paste (which you taste first) followed by a soothing rush of coconut milk. The paste released its 11 ingredients including shrimp paste and coriander roots. You eat it with the Pad Thai a noodle dish that is as popular and as delicious as Bangkok itself as it mixes prawn, tofu, chicken, peanuts and brilliance. I always indulge in Yin Yang’s red curry which is chicken and bamboo shoots in a richly textured dish that includes brinjal and potatoes and a melange of spices with the coconut mellowing the red curry paste, which has as many as six Kafir lime leaves, fish sauce, caraway seeds and secrets that only the tongue can taste.
Eat it with a green papaya and carrot salad flavoured with dried shrimps with a crunchiness that goes from lemony to sweet to sharp. I could go on, there was the sweet sour fish with tamarind. There was the steamed peppery Tofu filled with minced chicken made vivid with a ginger and garlic sauce...
Bhoj Raj who had done us proud by bringing dish after dish, Chef Khun Deng who was looking as beautiful as always but had other customers to feed, and Martin Kromer who never runs out of stories and is an institution like Thamel itself had a full house. The time to leave was right when Queen Of The Night in the garden blossomed in a rare aroma comparable to the hospitality of Yin Yang. Call Bhoj Raj at 4701510 for an unforgettable evening.