Tibetans have unique cuisine, just like the region where they live. Many tourists that came to Tibet are positively delighted of the various foods that Tibet has. Some of them may not like the flavor of Tibetan food, but certainly, everyone must try some of the traditional Tibetan dishes on their Tibet tour.
The flavors in Tibetan cuisine are primarily influenced by Indian, Nepal, but also China cuisine. The mixture of all these flavors makes Tibetan food exquisite.
Tibetan cuisine consists of a lot of different types of noodles, goat meat and milk, yak, mutton, butter, potatoes, variations of soups, and also bread.
Tibetan food is characterized by varied cooking: stewing, braising, simmering, steaming, frying, and roasting. However, the main ways of cooking dishes with staple food are made by steaming, boiling, or frying.
Here are some of the most famous traditional Tibetan dishes that you must try on your Tibet tour.
What to eat on your Tibet tour
Tsampa can be the most popular and most of the staple food in Tibet. It is roasted, usually barley flour, and sometimes also wheat flour. Usually is mixed with the salty Tibetan butter tea.
The preparation of this delicious food is quite simple. If you visit a local family, you certainly will be offered a Tsampa as welcome in their home.
Momo is a steamed dumpling with filling of meat or vegetables. It is made from white flour and water, and a little baking soda. Traditionally is filled with meat, but you can find different filling, such as a mix of vegetables, tofu, or local cheese. There are two types of momo: steamed and fried. Both of the types are very tasty.
Thenthuk is a noodle soup and very common in daily cuisine. Mostly it is made from wheat flour dough, vegetables and chopped meat of mutton or yak. In nowadays vegetable thenthuk is very popular in Tibet.
Guthuk is also a noodle soup. If you are visiting Tibet during Losar, you can eat this type of soup, because Tibetans are eating two days before Losar, Tibetan New Year.
Tibetan Sausages (Yak meat)
On your Tibet tour, a must-try food is Tibetan sausages. The most popular Tibetan Sausages are blood sausage. The blood sausages are made of small yak or sheep intestine tied to sections and infused with chopped mutton mixed with sheep blood, salt, Sichuan Pepper and Tsampa powders.
Ginseng Fruit Rice
Ginseng fruit rice is considered as a propitious esculent by Tibetans, and they eat ginseng fruit rice during weddings or festivals, especially at the Tibetan New Year Festival. Ginseng fruit rice is made with rice which is covered with cooked Ginseng fruit, little sugar, and ghee juice.
What to drink on your Tibet tour
Butter tea is a must drink while you are on your Tibet tour. It is not that kind of tea that we are used to drinking, but it is tasty.
Tibetans drink butter tea every day because it provides plenty of caloric energy and is particularly suited to high altitudes. The butter may also help prevent chapped lips.
It is made from tea leaves, water, yak butter, and salt, and it is usually served with tsampa.
Tibetan Sweet Tea
Tibetan sweet tea is another very popular drink in Tibet. Has a sweet flavor and it smells more pleasant than butter tea. If you are not a fan of butter tea, you definitely should try Sweet tea during your visit in Lhasa.
Chang or Chhaang is a beer made from fermented barley that is grown on the highland. It is a favorite alcoholic drink for Tibetans, but also Naples people love to drink Chang.
It is an excellent drink for summer but also is often served when the weather is colder.
Where to eat in Lhasa
Even Lhasa isn’t a very large city, and you will always find something delicious to eat. There is a significant number of restaurants, and also they serve different food. You can eat in a traditional Tibetan restaurant, or you can find a restaurant that serves western food. In Lhasa, there is also a fast food and street food.
In Lhasa, there are restaurants and bars for everyone. We make a list of the best restaurants in Lhasa.
Tibetan Family Kitchen
Tibetan Family Kitchen is located on Bakuo South Street, Chengguan district Beside Langsai Shopping Mall in Lhasa.
In this traditional restaurant, you can eat Tibetan noodles, tsampa, momo, and many more traditional dishes. You should try a dish with yak meat. There are also vegetarian and low-fat dishes. The traditional interior complements the atmosphere that makes you feel welcomed.
Tibetan Family Kitchen is ranked #1 restaurant according to Tripadvisor.
House of Shambhala Restaurant
You can find House of Shambhala Restaurant on No.7 Kirey 2nd Alley | Across Muru monastery alleyway in Lhasa.
This restaurant serves a variety of dishes from traditional Tibetan food and all types of Asian cuisine. There are also dishes for vegetarians. So everyone is welcomed in the House of Shambhala Restaurant.
Like third choice restaurant in Lhasa, we choose Dunya Restaurant. But the tourists also love this restaurant. It is located on 100 Beijing Dong Lu, in Lhasa.
Dunya Restaurant has a certificate of excellence by TripAdvisor for Certificate 2016 – 2017 and 2019.
Among traditional Tibetan dishes, you can also find Asian meals, but also European and international dishes. In this restaurant, vegetarians are welcomed.
It is located on Lupug 5th Lane Gate 11 | Durch Pharamcie hindurchlaufen und dann rechts die Treppe Hoch. In Lhasa.
Namaste restaurant serving traditional Tibetan food, Chinese food, Nepali food, but also you can eat Indian food. If you are a burger fan, in this restaurant you can also have a delicious burger.
You can find this small but charming restaurant in the center in Lhasa on Zangyiyuan Road. It is a cheaper restaurant than the others, but the food is delicious. You can try yak burger, or you can have some of the traditional Tibetan food, such as noodles or tsampa.
LaSa ChuFang restaurant is located Minchi Khang Easet Road. In friendly ambient, you can enjoy different food flavors, such as Tibetan, Indian, Chinese, Nepali, and also a portion of western food. This restaurant serves vegetarian dishes, and there are also vegan options.
Coffees and tea houses in Lhasa
If you want to drink a cup of tea or coffee in Lhasa, and you don’t know where the best coffee is, read this list of best bars and cafes in Lhasa and you will know.
Summit Cafe is very popular among tourists, but also for locals. It is located in the center of Lhasa. The exterior isn’t some luxury place, but inside you will enjoy your drink in a warm and modern interior and pleasant ambient.
You can have breakfast with your coffee here in the Summit Cafe.
A lovely place where you can be greeted in German and English. However, this cafe has a very delicious cheesecake and very nice coffee.
Tibetan cuisine has many dishes to offer, but if you are not a fan of Tibetan food, some of the restaurants also serve western food.
My advice is to try street food, which can be very delicious, but also cheaper than the food in the restaurants.
It is polite to try some traditional food when you are in Tibet. Tibetans will appreciate that, but also it is a new experience for you.
If you are visiting a local family, and they offered you tea or plate with food, you should take the offered food with both hands.
I am sure that your tour guide will help you to find the best place to eat in Lhasa.
Choosing one of the Tibet private tours is crucial if you are a first-time traveler and a picky eater. Make sure you talk to your guide and set your expectations at the highest level, because Tibet will not only meet all your expectations, but you will get more of that mysterious and unique region.