Not all Tibetan is vegetarian: Makye Ame Brings Lhassa Flavors to Beijing
For whatever reason, whenever I think of Tibetain Cuisine, I picture vegetarian dishes! And while the vast majority of Tibet is Buddhist and thus doesn’t eat meat, there are quite a few of them that do not adhere to those limitations as I found out recently during a visit to Makye Ame (map), a gorgeous Tibetain restaurant behind the Friendship Store in Beijing. They hail from Lhasa and have a few branches around China with 2 in Beijing.
It’s tucked in the same street as “Steak and Eggs” and “grandma’s kitchen” on the second floor of the building right above the Italian restaurant. I was actually surprised to see it there and was convinced that it did not exist when my friend mentioned to go there for dinner. I was sure she had mistaken the Inner-Mongolian restaurant for a Tibetain one… I was wrong!!!
The restaurant is a sight! The inside is all rustic woods and metals beautifully put together! The lights and colors combine wonderfully to create a pleasant homey atmosphere! I didn’t expect that at all.. heck, I’m no longer sure what I expected!
The staff seemed exclusively Tibetain and so were the entertainers! It’s one of those restaurants where music is a defacto companion to a meal and in this case, it was at the right volume so that one could enjoy it and still carry a conversation without having to scream out loud.
The menu took me by surprise! It was nicely organized and illustrated with dishes organized by meat content and names in Chinese, Tibetain and English. I never expected the array of meats they had… lots and lots of Yak meat dishes which I had never tasted before!
We decided to try a few things including a chicken stew with mushrooms, potato balls stuffed with Yak meat ( called Momo), yak butter and cheese pastry type thing and some greens for good measure! We also decided to be adventurous and try local Tibetain alcohols! I got me a cup of tibetain “white wine” which tasted like mijiu whereas my friend had the yoghurt wine.
The drinks were great and i loved how they were served in metal goblets… so gimmicky but nevertheless fun
As far as the food goes, the Momos and the chicken rocked the house!!! The taste was quite reminiscent of indian/thai curries which appeared frequently on the menu. The yak butter/cheese pastry thingy just didn’t work for me at all… overly greasy and flaky… not even worth the experiment
Overall, even though the dishes seemed a little pricier than your average Chinese restaurant, it was worthwhile! The servings are respectable and the quality justifies the prices!
The show was also nicely diverse with singers, stompers, dances and what not! In the 2 hours we were there, we sat through a good dozen performances.
The litmus test is always “Will I be back” ? I was ready to go back to Makye Ame (map) the following day and try more dishes… It’s definitely one of my new “must take visitors to” restaurants.
From what I saw online, there was a time when this place was quite famous and popular in Beijing but it somehow faded into obscurity…
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