A veritable wasteland 10 to 15 years ago, High Street Northcote has become a real centre for restaurants, cafes and live music. And the Wild Yak has become High Street institution for diners wanting a hearty but extremely affordable meal out.
The Yak is familiar and familial. It is quaint, but not in a cheesy way. And it's thoroughly authentic, in a highly unpretentious manner. The décor is looking a little tired, but you don't come here for that. The music sounds like it comes from middle Asia, as opposed to the pop production line, which is always a welcome surprise. The service is attentive and the food comes out very efficiently, although not in the 'churn and burn' style of many Asian places.
Speaking of the food, it is unique and quite wondrous. Initial impressions are, once again, of rather unassuming fare, but this just hides the delights available on the extensive menu. Both vegetarians and meat eaters are generously catered for, and the food itself is bountiful in its serves and its flavours. The chef's use of ingredients such as garlic, honey and lemon is strong but not overpowering, and only adds to the unique tastes. And what's more, it all has that freshly made feel to it.
Geographically, the Nepal/Tibet region lies between the population and culinary colossuses that are China and India, and the food from this area is truly a fusion of both. If you enjoy the cuisines of either or both, you will find much to love here.
Possibly the best thing about the Yak lies in its astounding value for money. If you bring your own wine, two people can eat to their heart's content, enjoying an extremely filling entrée, mains and rice each for well under $40.
This humble and charming eatery comes highly recommended.