Delicious Yak Noodle Soup in Lhasa, Tibet

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LhasaYakNoodle3_crop The Chubby Orangutan
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Yaks can be found in high altitude regions such as the Tibetan Plateau and is an extremely important element of the Tibetan life. A Yak can assist in farming, or used as a porter in high altitude trekking; their hair can be found as decoration in monasteries, their skin is used to make warm clothes and their meat eaten cooked or dried as yak jerky; milked for daily use that is then made into cheese and butter. Yaks have been keeping the Tibetans strong and have contributed significantly to their survival for centuries. In recent years, chicken, pork and fish have been imported from other Chinese provinces, but Tibetans still much prefer eating their local Yaks.

Yaks are offered in almost every restaurant in Lhasa, you can also find Yak cheese and butter in all the markets. For a few days I went to different restaurants and tried different Yak dishes such as Yak momo (dumplings), Yak fried rice, Yak fried noodles, Yak burgers, sizzling Yak…you name it, they have it. In general, they all tasted good. They do not have the smell of a lamb, or the gamey taste of an alpaca, it is almost like eating beef.

Despite all the larger and nicer restaurants I dined at in Lhasa, I wanted to explore more and see where the locals eat. I found a few interesting shops on Tengyeling road near the main square of Jokhang Temple. This particular noodle shop was packed with locals, so I waited outside until a seat opened up. The name of the restaurant is written only in Tibetan so I have no idea what the name is. As I went inside, I saw the boys in the kitchen looking at me curiously then I heard the sound of giggles. I guess it is that rare for a non-Tibetan to eat here.

There is no menu, and it seems like they only offer one dish – the yak noodle soup, which made the ordering process very easy. I was excited when my hot bowl of noodle soup arrived. The noodles are Tibetan style noodles, it is thick and somewhat resembles Japanese Udon, however the texture is doughy and it is not smooth and chewy like the Udon. The broth is clear and good. I am not sure what concocted it but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was made with Yak bones. They brought me chili paste, since everyone was putting it in their soup I just followed. The diced Yak meat, surprisingly was the most juicy and tasty yak meat I’ve had. The texture is much better than what I had thus far.

When I went inside the kitchen to peek, I mean pay, the cook and the waiters were so friendly and happy. The cook greeted me with a sincere bow and told me my bill was RMB35 (USD5.5). Without hesitation I took out RMB40, and they kept shaking their heads, turned out it was just RMB3.5 (USD0.55). I was used to paying RMB40 to RMB80 per meal in Lhasa (tourist price) and was shocked to find out it was only 55 US cents for my noodle soup. I was touched that they were very honest and did not charge me more. I enjoyed my yak noodle soup and left this restaurant feeling warm and happy.

Address: No. 6, Tengyeling Road, Lhasa.


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