We’re counting down Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s Top 5 restaurants in and around Washington for 2022 over the next two weeks, highlighting one restaurant each weekday until Tom’s full fall dining guide publishes on Oct. 5.
Tom Sietsema’s fall dining guide Top 5 countdown: Himalayan Wild Yak is No. 5
Money determines where diners go, how often, what dishes they order — if they even eat away from home.
Another challenging year calls for a different kind of fall dining guide. This season, the focus is on restaurants I like that offer distinctive value. Different as they are, they share memorable food, hospitality — and plenty of bang for your buck.
No. 5 Himalayan Wild Yak
The Nepalese newcomer west of Dulles Airport makes itself hard to forget. I mean, there’s a stuffed yak near the entrance, and he even has a name: Rocky. The beast shares its stage with a beauty — the cooking — and a menu that shrugs off supply issues with more than 30 dishes.
Every other table seems to be dressed with momos. Make sure you ask for some of the steamed dumplings, too. They show up as eight supple, see-through bites on the rim of a bowl containing roasted tomato sauce. The restaurant’s theme has me springing for the momos stuffed with ground yak, deftly seasoned with coriander, cumin and garam masala so you can still appreciate the delicate beefy flavor of the mountain cow. The chow mein is also required eating. A reminder that China is Nepal’s neighbor to the north, the street food staple is a tangle of thin yellow wheat noodles with a confetti of scallions, red cabbage, carrots and more, each bite smoky from the wok and splashed with sweet-salty oyster sauce.
You can pretty much point anywhere on the list and come up with a success story. Luscious chunks of pork, crisp from their time in a clay oven, resonate with mustard oil, ginger and garlic. Chicken stir-fried with onion and bell peppers is finished with a chile sauce that leaves a thrilling wake of heat. New to the menu are vegetable fritters formed from ground cabbage, cauliflower and carrots and draped with what tastes like barbecue sauce: ketchup, chile flakes and soy sauce. The orbs are meatless and marvelous. Appetizers are apportioned like main courses, and crowds of Indian customers prompted the owners to add to their menu such prizes as lamb korma, soft bites of meat in a dark golden gravy thickened with yogurt and cashew paste — as light and luscious as I’ve had anywhere.
The restaurant puts its customers first. Floating near the Himalaya-high ceiling are fabric panels to sponge noise, the drinks list is as interesting as in a D.C. hot spot, and the person ferrying food from kitchen to table might be one of the two chef-owners.
22885 Brambleton Plaza, Ashburn, Va. 703-760-3710. himalayanwildyak.com. Lunch and dinner daily. Indoor and outdoor seating. Mains $12 to $23. Takeout and delivery. Sound check: 70 decibels/Conversation is easy. Accessibility: No barriers at entrance; ADA-compliant restroom.