When talking about Shangri-La in Yunnan, we always talk about its towering snow-capped mountains, deep canyons, vast grasslands, beautiful starry sky, and ancient towns, but we rarely mention the food there. Shangri-La is a "food highland", relatively untouched by tourism.
Shangri-La is on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and Tibetans are the main residents there, so the food is mainly Tibetan in style. You can also find many Yunnan- and Sichuan-style restaurants in Shangri-La.
In this article, we will introduce you to several classic Shangri-La dishes and recommend you some restaurants with a good reputation. Or contact us directly for more.
3 Recommend Shangri-La Dishes
1. Butter-Fried Matsutake
Matsutake, known as the “king of mushrooms”, is definitely Shangri-La’s biggest “gourmet temptation”. Matsutake have a very delicate and delicious taste, and they have exacting requirements for their growth environment and climate. They can only be found in the unpolluted virgin forests of Northwest Yunnan and Linzhi, Tibet.
July to September is the picking season for Shangri-La matsutake, and it is also the best season to taste fresh matsutake.
Butter-fried matsutake is the classic way to eat this delicacy. The mellow ghee forces out the fragrance of the matsutake, and at the same time it locks in the freshness. When it is slightly curled, the mouth is plump and fresh, and full of grace.
Travel with us for matsutake picking experience in its high season
2. Yak Hot Pot
Shangri-La’s Tibetan cuisine is based on locally-produced yak meat. The yak there grow up eating wild medicinal herbs (as well as lots of grass) grown at high altitudes of around 3,500 meters above sea level, so their meat is extremely delicious.
Yak beef hot pot has long been a dish commonly eaten by Tibetans, but now it has become the symbol of Shangri-La cuisine. The large slices of yak meat, served with seasonal vegetables, and stewed in a copper pot until crisp, are both delicious and nutritious.
3. Pipa Meat
Pipa meat is a kind of meat made using a traditional curing method of Diqing Tibetan area (Shangri-La’s prefecture). The method is to take out the internal organs and bones of a pig after slaughter, keeping the body whole, and then pickling it in a unique preparation, and leaving it to dry and cure. Because a whole dried pig looks somewhat like a pipa (a Chinese lute) in appearance, this dish is called pipa meat.
Under normal circumstances, pickled pipa meat takes at least one year to be cured and eaten. The meat is transparent and tastes fatty, but not greasy.
- 4-Day Shangri-La Exploration Tour
- 6-Day Shangri-La, Deqin and Tacheng Adventure Tour
- We could create your own Shangri-La trip with all the foods and things you are interested in.
2 Recommended Shangri-La Snacks
1. Zanba (Tsampa — Roasted Barley Flour)
Zanba (tsampa in Tibetan), roasted highland barley flour, is the staple food of Tibetan people.
When making zanba, grease the bowl with some butter first, then pour in the water or tea, add the flour, and stir by hand. When mixing, remember to gently push the roasted flour to the bottom of the bowl to prevent the liquid from spilling out of the bowl. Rotate the bowl and push the roasted flour into the tea/water with your fingers close to the edge of the bowl. When the barley flour, tea, and butter are mixed well, they can be kneaded into a ball, and you can eat the dough.
Zanba is nutritious and can be made anywhere at anytime.
2. Shangri-La Yogurt
Yogurt is a traditional Tibetan dairy product in Shangri-La. Made from pasteurized, fermented yak milk after refining out yak butter to reduce the fat content, Shangri-La yogurt has a high nutritional value and is easy to digest. You can find this popular snack in nearly every Tibetan restaurant.
3 Recommend Shangri-La Drinks
1. Butter Tea
Butter tea is the most popular drink in Shangri-La because of its high caloric value, which can eliminate the cold and replenish the heat needed by the human body. As a daily drink, butter tea plays an important role in the Tibetan diet.
It is simple and convenient to make a bowl of butter tea. Firstly, pour some local tea into a flask, add butter, salt, refined oil, and spices, and then stir it up and down repeatedly with a stirring handle to mix the butter and tea into a perfect infusion.
2. Highland Barley Wine
Brewed from highland barley, highland barley wine has been one of the main drinks in Tibetan areas for thousands of years.
When you visit a Tibetan home, they always greet you with a cup of highland barley wine. Before drinking the wine, you should dip your right ring finger in the wine then flick it in the air three times to pay your respects to heaven, earth, and the ancestors. Once you drink a sip, the host will pour into your cup again, and you should drink up the wine after the third time this is repeated.
Highland barley wine is the favorite drink of Tibetan people, and it is essential to celebrating their festivals and happy events.
3. Shangri-La Beer
Shangri-La beer is considered the most mysterious beverage in Chinese craft beer making. Produced on the pure plateau over 3,000 meters above sea level, there are no preservatives or chemical products in the beer.
Taking Tibetan barley as its raw material, using pure snowy mountain water, and employing professional German beer-brewing technology, this beer created in Shangri-La has a unique taste. As advertised, it is “your Shangri-La in a bottle”.
Shangri-La Beer Factory is open for visiting — contact us to see inside.
5 Recommended Shangri-La Restaurants
There are several restaurants and snack shops in Shangri-La, especially in Dukezong Ancient Town. From Tibetan restaurants to Yunnan and Sichuan flavor ones to Western coffee bars, you should find some to meet your needs. Here we have listed some popular restaurants for your reference.
1. Yin Tong Convenient Snacks 银同便民小吃店
Features: Tibetan-style snacks, yak hot pot, highland barley cake... Opened in 2016, it has served many Chinese stars, such as Donnie Yen, and the lady boss is simple and easy-going.
Address: 32 Yiruomulang, Dukezong Ancient Town, Changzheng Avenue, Shangri-La (香格里拉市长征大道独克宗古城依若木廊32号)
2. The Silent Holy Stones 静静的嘛呢石
Features: Tibetan style food — yak hot pot, yogurt, fried mushrooms, dry pot potatoes, meatloaf. It’s a literary restaurant themed around Tibetan film art.
Address: 3 Zuobarui, Dukezong Ancient Town (独克宗古城作巴瑞3号)
3. Regong Tibetan Art Studio & Restaurant 热贡艺人阁
Features: Tibetan food — yak hot pot, Anduo noodles, Tibetan pizza, exclusive secret sauce
Address: 9-2 Juelang Road, Jinlong Street, Dukezong Ancient Town (独克宗古城金龙街觉廊路9-2号)
4. Compass 指南针
Features: Western style — salads, steaks, pasta, pizzas, coffee
Address: 3 Chilang Gang, Jiantang County Town, Shangri-La Pedestrian Street (香格里拉市步行街建塘镇池廊冈3)
5. Flying Tigers Café 飞虎咖啡
Features: Western style, especially French dishes. It’s a French-run, hundred-year-old courtyard house.
Address: 91 Jinlong Street, Dukezong Ancient Town (独克宗古城金龙街99号)
Recommended Shangri-La Tours
Contact us directly for more food, drink, restaurant, and touring recommendations.
Or start planning your Shangri-La tour with a well-designed itinerary, and fill in the meal and snack breaks along the way…
- 4-Day Shangri-La Exploration Tour
- 6-Day Shangri-La, Deqin, and Tacheng Adventure Tour
- 8-Day Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Highlights Tour
We have yet more Yunnan tours, which cover the highlights in Yunnan and also include exclusive programs to give you a unique experience.
Not interested in the above tours? We can tailor-make your own unique tour with your interests and requirements. We will design your perfect trip.