Vancouver Tibet Kitchen

September 25, 2011
Tibetan cuisine is a new adventure for me, but I thought I would be somewhat familiar with the cooking style since it's described as a mix of Indian and Chinese cuisine. Although the dishes are strongly influenced by Indian and Chinese culture, the Tibetans have added their own twist. We started our meal with a hearty Tibetan chicken soup called jha-sha then-thuk ($9.99) which is translated as pulled pasta chicken on the menu. The soup was a bit spicy and very appetizing with bits of chicken, celery, Chinese radish, cucumber, carrot, mushroom, and flat pieces of pasta. I don't think pasta is a part of traditional Tibetan cuisine, so it might have been used as a replacement for something else.

A must-try is the traditional Tibetan tea ($3.99) made with milk, butter and salt. One pot of tea fills about 4 cups. It looks like regular milk tea, but it's a savoury drink with salt instead of sugar. As odd as that may sound, the taste was actually quite interesting with a much fuller flavour than the sweet version.

The mo-mo ($8.99) is the exact same thing as Chinese dumplings. The waitress told us we could mix and match 2 different types of mo-mo so we went for jha-sha mo-mo (chicken) and tsel-tofu mo-mo (veggie and tofu). Both were great. The veggie was a bit lighter and the chicken was more savoury. The pink shreds in the middle looked like pickled radish, but they were actually kind of bland without any flavour.

Then we had the mya-sha ($13.99), or fish special, which was very tasty on the first bite, but grew increasingly salty. After eating around 2 to 3 pieces, I could not eat anymore without taking huge gulps of water after each bite. The sauce was tangy and intense, but the dish would have been so much better with less salt.

The fish special comes with either tingmo or rice. We asked the waitress what tingmo is, and she told us it's like the Chinese mantou (饅頭) or steamed bun. The tingmo was made with rolled-up dough, so the shape was quite interesting. It went really well with the fish.

We decided to try a traditional Tibetan dessert called the dey-see ($3.99). It was not very sweet at all. I wasn't surprised considering how everything else was on the salty side. The dessert was basically a bowl of slightly sweetened steamed rice with golden raisins and small coconut slices. Most of the sweetness came from the raisins. I enjoyed it, but the rice was quite filling, especially after such a large meal.

Apart from the saltiness issue, I was very happy with the other aspects of the dinner from the service to the taste. I noticed that there are also Indian and Chinese dishes on the menu, but I figured I should try authentic Tibetan food on my first visit. Maybe next time I'll get to try other items.

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