I found out about this wonderful place thanks to my Tibetan tour agency in Lhasa, and was so glad I did!
The owners, Namdon and Lumbum, a married couple of former tour guides themselves, are also the cooks and the hosts. Their English is perfect and their conversation extremely amenable. They were true sweethearts! I loved the food and liked the experience so much I went there to eat three times during my 4-day stay in Lhasa.
The kitchen/restaurant is in their own home: a simple, cozy, and warm place. You can watch the food being made right in front of you, so you know exactly what they put in it and how it is done. You can choose the ingredients and have a variety of options, including loads of vegetables, which was a nice surprise. I personally loved the yak meat, but they also offer vegetarian alternatives if meat is not your thing.
The dining room is adjacent to the kitchen, where a big wooden table carved with Tibetan motifs lies in the middle, surrounded by three large benches lined with comfy rugs. I would say the room is spacious enough for about 10-12 people, so don’t worry if you’re coming with a large group! I strongly recommend trying the Tibetan noodle soup with yak meat and the sweet peanut rice. Tsampa and momo dumplings are also a popular and yummy choice. You can have the traditional butter tea as well, but if you find the taste to be a bit unorthodox, you may want to try the milder sweet tea, which is quite delicious and soothing. A simple, but tasty and filling dish can go for as low as 15-20 CNY ($2.5- $3.5 USD), which is a bargain compared to what most good restaurants offer around the area, and the food quality is top-notch.
For a small fee, you also have the option to learn to make and cook your own Tibetan meal. I learned to make yak-meat-and-vegetable momo dumplings and traditional Tibetan noodles from scratch! Both were extremely delicious and incredibly fun to make, even if my dumplings were not the best-looking ones.
Although the home-made food alone was worth the visit, an added perk was the atmosphere and the time I spent watching and chatting with the family. As soon as you enter this home, you truly feel welcome and treated just like you’re part of it.
The kitchen is located right downtown Lhasa, about 5 minutes from Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street on foot, so it is quite easy to get there. Just turn right at the end of Barkhor square (in front of Jokhang Temple), onto Danjielin Road, and walk half-way towards East Beijing Street. Once you see Summit Cafe on the left, walk across the street. You will see a Tibetan tour agency (they have a moving LED sign display and a “Tibetan Family Laundry Service” sign outside). Walk through the shop right next to them on the left, and you will reach an apartment complex courtyard. Go up the stairs on the left and down three doors on the next floor up. It’s pretty easy, but if you cannot find the kitchen, you can ask the tour agency on the first floor and they can help you locate it.
In addition to meals, the family also offers laundry service by weight (kg.). For small and light items, such as t-shirts or socks, this could be quite convenient, as most laundry services in Lhasa charge per item as opposed by weight, and it could quickly add up if you have a lot of laundry.
An important point to mention as well is that you can rest assured that any time and money you spend in the Kitchen will go to a real Tibetan family/business, so if you are concerned whether your patronage will benefit the area and its Tibetan people, it is a big ‘YES’!
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