I have been visiting Tibet Kitchen since it opened six years ago, primarily for the delicious vegetarian momos. Last night my wife and I visited again, this time for dinner. The menu is vastly improved and expanded from a few years ago and Tibet Kitchen is worth a visit for the variety of Tibetan dishes and the extremely casual atmosphere. But still, my recommendation is – come for the momos!
Owner Gawa is a friendly Tibetan-American gentleman who grew up in southern India, as (he explains) most Tibetan exiles did, rather than in the more famous Dharamsala in northern India where the Dalai Llama resides. Tibetan food is not generally that flavorful but my guess is Gawa learned a bit from the southern Indian cuisine, as the food at Tibet Kitchen is quite pleasing to the palate.
Tibet Kitchen is in a very unassuming location on the northwest corner of Folsom and Arapahoe, slightly overshadowed by the Subway placed closer to the intersection. Walking into the restaurant, you will immediately notice the very casual atmosphere, with the menu on a board over the counter, bar stool seats in the front room, and a small cash register marking the place you order.
Most of the time we have visited, there have been few patrons, which is a shame. However, owner Gawa says while the first year was tough, the restaurant is now doing well enough to be stable. Lunch is often the busiest time of the day, thanks in part to the pre-prepared dishes ready for customers to order on the spot in sort of a restaurant-served lunch-special buffet.
It is actually worth coming and dining in, as the restaurant has a nice (but small) dining area in the back and a very pleasant outdoor garden with Tibetan flags hanging over the fence. We actually enjoy having few other diners in the place, as it is always fun to talk to Gawa or whomever his staff member is on duty.
Looking at the menu, you’ll notice a wide variety of dishes. Skip the fried rice, which is the easy option if you don’t know Tibetan food but is not even Tibetan. Instead, go for one of the many meat or vegetarian main courses or try one of the new noodle dishes, which look delicious. (We didn’t try one.)
Ultimately, however, make sure to try the momos. Momos (or gyoza in China) are rolled-dough dumplings served either vegetarian (cabbage, celery, carrot, green pea, mushroom & zucchini), chicken (with cilantro, onion, scallion, garlic & ginger), or beef (served in the same style as the chicken).
I have been traveling to China for years to run my company’s adventure tours and one of my favorite dining options is the ubiquitous gyoza restaurant, which serves dumplings of every and all sort. In Tibet, the dumplings are more limited in style but still delicious. At our local Tibetan establishment here in Boulder, the momos are piping hot right out of the boiling water, large enough to make a hearty meal, and served with a spicy sauce that is as delicious as the dumplings themselves.
Most of us in Boulder County love supporting our local restaurants and we are lucky to have a small number of non-standard ethnic restaurants. Tibet Kitchen is one of those gems that has made it past the potential bankruptcy stage and is well worth supporting. Consider the restaurant for take out, to dine in, or as an excellent way to cater a party. Just make sure you order the momos!