Tibetan Temple

Tibetan Temple

Even if you can’t locate Tibet on a map, you might be able to guess from the food at Tibetan Kitchen that the territory—officially an “autonomous region of China,” though there are plenty who dispute it—is situated between New Delhi and Beijing.

Your first clue might be a half-moon of the Bhaklep ($2), a pan-fried flatbread. My dinner companion’s order was buttery, flaky, a little chewy—a cross, he said, between a piece of Indian naan and a Chinese scallion pancake.

Your second clue might be samosas dressed in dumpling coats: the Shogo Moktak ($14), eight pieces of steamed and pan-fried dough stuffed with turmeric-yellow potatoes and the occasional green pea. The flat sides of our dumplings were browned and chewy, the pinched and crimped sides soft and supple. The filling was bland on its own, but a ramekin of sauce for dipping or pouring—herbaceous, tangy, a little spicy, absolutely delicious—not only saved the dish but totally redeemed it. A refreshing side of cabbage slaw was tossed in something light and savory, and a table jar of hot, peppery spices bonded loosely by oil added another tasty variable.

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The Tsel-Gyathuk Ngopa ($14), a sweet-savory sauté of linguine-style noodles, slender slabs of tofu and strands of cabbage and carrot in a thin brown sauce, pointed decisively in China’s direction. It reminded me in certain ways of the moo shu format found at American Chinese places, though the long, pillowy noodles made it much more velvety and comforting. Plated in a tall, tangled heap, the dish held temperature remarkably well, and even ordered mild, there was a current of the other kind of heat, which built so slowly that it took maybe six or seven forkfuls to notice.

Spoons, of course, were the ticket for the two soups we tried: a starter called Thang ($6) and an entree called Veg Phing ($14). We concluded they were cousins, the starter offering spinach, tofu, sweet potato glass noodles and a bed of minced garlic that shot up through the broth with every plunge of the spoon. The entree boasted all of that plus potatoes, leathery mushrooms and a medium spice level (as requested) along with a dome of white rice and a larger portion size. In each case, the similar garlicky broth made the dish.

Based on my experiences both taking out and dining in, I emphatically recommend the latter (though, at peak dinner times, the small restaurant’s tables may be in short supply). Sitting down at Tibetan Kitchen, I’ve found bigger portions and, by sparing the food the effects of take-home containers, more dynamic flavors and textures, adding up to a standout experience that, just a few hours later, I’m already craving to repeat.

Tibetan Kitchen
1217 Chapel St, New Haven (map)
(203) 507-2991
Mon-Sat 11am-3pm & 5-9pm

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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