Thursday, October 07, 2004

Roof of the World blog.

Who: Me.

What: Tsampa, a Tibetan restaurant.

When: Monday night.

Where: 9th St., Manhattan (East Village).

Why: Because it’s there.

What do you eat at a Tibetan restaurant? Tibetan food, of course, along with an Asian beer. I would have ordered Tibetan beer to keep in the spirit of things, but maybe there are no breweries in Tibet, or none that the Chinese government doesn’t control. Sapporo and Singha were the choices.

I started with dokpa momo. Momo is the Tibetan variation of steamed dumplings, in this case “nomad momo with baby potatoes and scallions,” sitting on a big green leaf in a bamboo basket. Moving on to the main dish, the Tibetan curry (chicken) was spicy good but not that different from the Indian curries I’ve had. Tibet’s version of the lasi is the thara a yogurt shake with “fruit in season.” I asked what that was, and the waitress said pineapple. Not quite in the same league as a good lasi, but satisfying. I ran out of it before I ran out of curry, and so ordered a bottle of Sapporo.

I asked to keep the menu, so I could make notes. I enjoyed the names of some of the dishes as much as anything else about the place: Lhasa Momo, Dholuma (eggplant sauté), Tse Gyathuk Ngopa (noodle and vegetables, but just Gyathuk Ngopa includes chicken as well).

Dessert: “Tsampa Desert [sic], a traditional Tibetan roasted ground barley, fluffed with yogurt and honey and accented with dried cranberries.” It was honey-sweet, with a consistency somewhere between soft pudding and melted ice cream, eaten with a airliner-sized spoon. As the only chewy thing in the little bowl, the cranberries were just the right thing for gustatory contrast.


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