A trip to Lhasa takes the tourist to one of the 10 highest cities in the world. Because of its height, Lhasa’s climate remains relatively cool throughout the year, making the cultivation of crops difficult. Lhasa’s gastronomy reflects its climate as well as typical Tibetan cuisine.
A visitor to Lhasa will find that the traditional foods are rich in calories and often served very warm to combat the chilly atmosphere. However, visitors can also find foods that remind them of home. Along with traditional Tibetan foods, there are restaurants that serve Nepalese, Chinese, Indian, Sichuan, and even western foods on occasion.
Typical Tibetan cuisine consists of a great deal of barley and rich meats. Specialty dishes are served in Tibet that reflect the area’s history, geographical formations, and nutritional needs of the locals. Tourists in Lhasa are encouraged to sample these dishes, many of which can seldom be found elsewhere. The majority of cuisine in Lhasa consists of yak, mutton, and goat meats with little to no vegetables.
Gyurma is a type of blood sausage made with yak or sheep’s blood.
Thukpa is a noodle soup, usually served with mutton or yak meat.
Tingmo is a type of steamed bun or bread. It is usually served along other foods but is sometimes stuffed with meat or cheese.
A soup made with cheeses, tsampa, and either yak or sheep stock.
Tsampa is known as the national food of Tibet. It is usually made of ground barley flour and often mixed with butter or yak butter tea.
There are also a number of traditional beverages enjoyed by the people of Tibet. These include:
Yak Butter Tea: Locally known as Po Cha, yak butter tea is made from yak butter, tea leaves, and salt. It is served hot.
Chang: A type of beer made from barley. It is served either at room temperature or very hot.
Pinjopo: Wine made from rice.
Lhasa has a number of restaurants and as tourism continues to increase, so do the scope of eateries. Many of the newer restaurants in Lhasa cater to tourists, offering local cuisine as well as Sichuan, Chinese, Indian, and Western dishes.
This restaurant is a favorite with locals but, with its diverse menu, is also well suited for visitors. Vegetarian offerings like curry rice are available as are specialties like fried mutton spareribs.
Barkhor Café is a good choice for tourists who are in need of a technology fix during their journey of enlightenment. The café has wi-fi as well as a view that overlooks the Jokhang Temple.
Ganglamedo offers a well rounded experience for those who wish to multitask during their stay. At Ganglamedo, tourists can have lunch while listening to local music and perusing the bookshelves. Visitors can even get a tattoo in the accompanying tattoo parlor. The cuisine at Ganglamedo is varied, offering everything from Chinese food to pizza.
Makye Ame is popular with tourists for its history, its food, and its convenience. This is said to be a location that was once visited by the sixth Dalai Lama. The area is also equipped with wireless Internet access and the food is tasty and diverse.
Xinfeng offers comfort food for weary travelers. The restaurant specializes in western style foods, such as hamburger roast.
Xue Shen Gong is the place to go for those who wish to taste truly authentic Tibetan cuisine. Waiters speak fluent English, which can be a true benefit for those who want to try a new dish, but who still wish to know exactly what they are eating.