Before going to Tibetan kitchen, I had no idea what Tibetan food was. And I still don’t really know, but I like it a lot. I headed over there for Friday lunch on a bit of a whim with two friends. We arrived at around 12:45 and were seated immediately.
Tibetan Kitchen is fairly small, but the dining room is painted a deep, calm red that makes it feel nicely cozy. Plus, the tables are far enough apart that you never feel cramped. The walls are adorned with what I assume are traditional ornaments and paintings along with movie posters from films featuring Tibet.
Perhaps sensing that most of their customers won’t be particularly familiar with Tibetan food, the owners have put photos on the back of the menu of a selection of the dishes offered. The pictures are surprisingly well taken for a restaurant, which made it even harder to decide what to order during my visit. The menu is about half vegetarian/vegan and all of the food sounds delicious. When it came time to order, I panicked with indecision and ordered a random item off the menu.
The first food to arrive was tingmo, described on the menu as “steamed bread”. It came in layers like a cinnamon bun and was accompanied by a spicy green sauce and a red powder that resembled a chunkier version of chili salt. A bit bland on its own, the tingmo was wonderful rubbed in the red powder. Next came avocado salad, chunks of potato covered in a lemon and avocado dressing. This unusual salad worked surprisingly well, especially for accompanying the spicier food to come.
The vegetarian among us ordered tsel momo, pan-fried veggie and cheese dumplings. The dumplings came with no sauce, which seemed a bit unusual, but it became clear that they didn’t need it.
The dumplings were perfectly warm and had a nice mild flavor that suited the coziness of their surroundings. They came with a salad of shredded carrots and cucumbers that had a similar flavor to seaweed salad.
The other two entrees we ordered were the jha-sha curry, a potato and chicken curry, and sha-khodhak, a stir-fry dish with bell peppers, chicken, and a spicy tomato-y sauce. I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to try the curry, but according to my friend it was quite good.
I can, however, attest to how good the sha-khodhak was. It was nicely spicy without having spice overwhelm the dish and the bell peppers retained a crispness that worked well with the chicken. Taking bites of the bread and salad in between eating the sha-khodhak made the appetizers really stand out. They both served as welcome respite from the heat of the main dish and they gave the whole meal a nice sense of balance and variety.
The service was quick and polite without being overbearing. Our water never ran out and our waiter was patient when we had trouble deciding what to order. The entrees were presented in a surprisingly elegant manner that reflected the calm order of the restaurant. Entrees run around $8-12. I saw some complaints online of entrees being too small, but everything is really very reasonably sized. If you still fear being hungry, a side order of tingmo is only $2. The menu also features several deserts including kheer, the rice pudding that should be familiar to any fans of Indian food, and ice cream that apparently changes daily. The next time you want to try something a little different, Tibetan Kitchen is a great option.
- Willy ‘16 (Photos by Alex Fireman)
574 Main St, Middletown, CT 06457