A Taste of Nepal in Brambleton

In search of the perfect protein? 2022 might be the perfect year to give yak a try.

A trio of seasoned DMV restaurateurs are serving up yak dishes and other Nepalese favorites‑at the Wild Himalayan Yak, which opened in Brambleton last week.

Brambleton resident Dip Raj Jarga Magar runs the front of the house while his brother Keshar Jarga and their business partner Tuk Gurung are behind the restaurant’s kitchen and bar programs.

Magar and Gurung have worked together for years and opened the popular Royal Nepal restaurant in Alexandria. When it was time to launch a new project, they wanted a bigger space. And Magar knew his own neighborhood fit the bill perfectly. The partners found a two-story, 5,000-square-foot space in Brambleton Town Center, formerly the home to the Lost Rhino Retreat.

“It’s a great location for us,” Magar said. 

The restaurant also fills a niche for Nepalese cuisine in Ashburn and, to Magar’s knowledge, is the only place in the county where diners can order yak, which he hopes will become the restaurant’s claim to fame.

“Yak meat is the healthiest meat on the planet,” Magar said.

Yaks, also called “mountain cows,” are known for their exceptionally lean meat. But it’s also high in Omega-3 oils, which keep it tender and juicy.

Magar sources U.S.-raised yak from farms in several states. And a Pennsylvania yak farm was the source of the restaurant’s mascot: a towering taxidermized yak named Rocky.

Chef Tuk Gurung displays some of his dishes in the dining room at Himalayan Wild Yak, a new restaurant in Brambleton Town Center. Renss Greene/Loudoun Now

Magar is looking forward to introducing fellow Loudouners to cuisine from his native Nepal, a small mountain nation bordered by India to the south and China to the north. And there are influences from both cultures on Nepalese cuisine, he says.

“We’re a very small country, and we’re heavily influenced by both sides.” 

Overall, Nepalese dishes are most similar to northern Indian cuisine, he adds, but a little lighter on the spice.

In addition to 18-hour marinated braised yak, Wild Himalayan Yak offers a range of more familiar fare, including curries, butter chicken, biryani and fried rice.

Magar also sources yak butter from Mongolia (very few farms in the U.S. are licensed to raise yaks for dairy products) to use in several signature dishes. 

The new restaurant is made for dining in, with a spacious bar and lounge area, craft and classic beers on tap, inviting wine and cocktail lists and photo ops with Rocky.

Magar’s brother Keshar Jarga, who is trained as a chef and previously worked as a bartender at the Watergate Hotel, runs the bar program. Magar has also done sommelier classes and says there’s nothing like a robust Napa Valley cabernet to pair with a yak dish.

Nabin Adhikari puts meat on a skewer in the kitchen at Himalayan Wild Yak, a new restaurant in Brambleton Town Center. Renss Greene/Loudoun Now

Magar came to the U.S. in 2005 to work for a cruise line and settled in Northern Virginia in 2010. He worked at DC’s Four Seasons Hotel and Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt Washington, where he met Gurung. The partners opened the highly rated Royal Nepal in Alexandria in 2017.

“I always had a dream to have my own restaurant featuring our Nepalese cuisine,” Magar said.

Magar and Gurung sold their shares in Royal Nepal to launch the new venture. Opening a 5,000-square-foot restaurant during a pandemic is a gamble, Magar said, but it comes with the territory in the restaurant business. And he’s counting on Loudoun’s unquenchable curiosity and appetite for cool new cuisines.

“Obviously the pandemic has been very challenging. But at the same time, I’m optimistic about the coming days,” he said. “We’ve been through most of the difficult times, and I’m very hopeful that it will be better.”

Himalayan Wild Yak is located at 22885 Brambleton Plaza, Ashburn. For more information and to check out a menu, go to himalayanwildyak.com.

One thought on “A Taste of Nepal in Brambleton

  • 2022-01-06 at 2:48 pm

    Congratulations, and I look forward to trying it.

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