20 Dec 2017
3 min read
Ritez Shrestha, the owner of Yin Yang Restaurant, has been handling the management of the restaurant for the last three years. The history of the restaurant, however, dates back to the 1970s. Yin Yang was established on March 6, 1973 by Ritez Shrestha’s grandfather, in Basantapur, to serve Chinese and Continental cuisine. After the restaurant’s discontinuation in the 1980s, Ritez Shrestha’s father, Tejendra Shrestha, re-opened the restaurant—this time with a Thai menu—in Thamel, in 1996. According to Ritez Shrestha, the reason behind the conversion to a Thai menu was the lack of Thai restaurants in Kathmandu. Yin Yang took two years to build, and apart from the minor refurbishing and tweaks that have been made over the years, everything else at this restaurant is roughly as they were 21 years ago. Before the establishment of Yin Yang restaurant in Thamel, Ritez Shrestha’s father had also opened, in 1989, a Halal restaurant called the Third Eye, which served Indian and Continental fare. Today, Yin Yang and the Third Eye share a common bakery run by Ritez Shrestha’s sister, Tejita Shrestha.
Yin Yang focuses on quality, consistency and great service. “Our aim is to serve authentic Thai dishes in an idyllic ambience with top-notch service,” says Ritez Shrestha. Having grown up around the restaurant business, Ritez Shrestha is well-acquainted with the ins and outs of Yin Yang. Ritez is also looking to expand Yin Yang beyond Thamel.
Upon entering the premises of Yin Yang, you will see a cream-coloured four-storey house overlooking a courtyard decked with wrought-iron tables and chairs. If you take the stairs to the right of the entrance, you will enter a huge room whose interiors will make you feel like you’ve suddenly been transported to an exotic quintessentially Asian locale. That’s because the furniture in the room feature pagoda-style designs and artworks depicting elephants, long-tail boats and the Buddha, while soothing, Eastern instrumental music emanates from the walls.
The colour red and its shades are a recurring theme in Yin Yang’s interior design philosophy; you can see uncemented, red brick walls, maroon tablecloths, red sofas, and on the ceiling, Tibetan patterns with red as the dominant colour. At Yin Yang, customers can also choose from a Western seating arrangement and an Asian seating arrangement. The Western seating arrangement can be accessed upon entering the restaurant. And to get to the Thai room, customers must enter a corridor decorated with Thai umbrellas hanging from the ceiling.
No Thai experience is complete without tom yum soup. Thai meals always start with the tom yum kung, a spicy and sour soup with pieces of prawn and sliced button-mushrooms cooked in tom yum paste, and infused with lemongrass, galangal and coriander. Perfect for winter, this soup can be ordered in two sizes: small and large. You can also ask for chicken in the tom yum soup. Next, to cleanse your palate with something refreshing, we suggest you go with the som tam. This popular Thai-style salad—with symmetrically shredded green papaya and carrots, mixed with cherry tomatoes, peanuts, chillies, lemon juice, dried shrimp and fish sauce—has a zingy flavour to it.The Sa-te Yin Yang—commonly known as chicken satay—is a popular Thai appetiser. The dish consists of marinated chicken (which is skewered and grilled until lightly charred), a dollop of nutty peanut sauce, and zesty cucumber and carrot relish. The tender chicken breast goes really well with the grainy sauce, resulting in a sometimes sweet, sometimes savoury taste. Another best-selling appetiser on Yin Yang’s menu is the Tod Man Pla, or fish cakes. Made with barramundi or catfish, the minced fish fillet is seasoned with kaffir lime leaf, curry paste and coriander, moulded into patties and deep fried. The fish cakes, with a crusty exterior to contrast with its flaky interior, come with a sweet Thai chili sauce made inhouse. Among the Thai curries, the Pha-nang, which is available in either khai (chicken), mu (pork) or neua (beef), is a customer favourite. The Pha-nang is prepared by stir-frying poached meat in a mix of panang curry paste and fresh coconut milk until a thick, gravy-like consistency is achieved. This dish tastes especially good when paired with jasmine rice imported directly from Thailand.
Among the dishes in the Continental menu, the Surf and Turf sells the best: it features a grilled succulent Australian sirloin steak, well-done in lemon butter sauce, topped with a layer of tomato salsa and grilled prawns and served with crinkled french fries and salad. For dessert, we recommend you go for the cheesecake. The fluffy cheesecake, coated in a thin chocolate crust, melts effortlessly in your mouth.
Behind the scenes
The head chefs who look after Yin Yang’s kitchen are Supa Kaorn and Dambar Waiba. Kaorn and Waiba are in charge of preparing Thai and Continental dishes, respectively. Kaorn, who has been working at Yin Yang for four months now, has 10 years of culinary experience from working as a chef in Bangkok. Waiba, the head Continental chef at Yin Yang for the last 12 years, has undertaken formal training at the Nepal Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management, and has worked as a chef at hotels run by Hilton and Sheraton. His love for cooking stems from his appreciation for food and art, and he believes that cooking is largely art. Both the chefs, each of whom has a team of 11 people working under them, believe that good cooking requires meticulousness. Only by paying attention to the minutest of details, they say, can authentic and consistent taste be achieved.