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Surprising and nice encounter with Tibetan food (I)

This is a totally lovely surprise!! In the evening, a few of us decided to go to the city centre of Bonn (Germany), and find a restaurant there for dinner. None of us really knew Bonn that well, we wanted to wander around, see what we could find. When we aimlessly got off the tram, a friend suddenly suggested, ‘how about Tibetan food’? He explained that on Monday he tried to dine there with a few other friends, unfortunately it was closed, but he might still be able to remember the way. We immediately agreed — for us, all the food lovers, we LOVE to try everything!

On the way to there, this friend kept on saying that he did not really know if it was going to be good or not, and hope we would like it. — He was a bit worried if it was going to be a bad choice. The truth was, besides loving to try the food, I was very curious about the restaurant and the people there.

I had never been to Tibet, and I did not have many chances to know Tibetan people and their food. But I have heard so much of it, my dad used to have some students from Tibet, his knowledge of Tibet was really ‘first hand’. They remained very close friendship after the graduation. And my mum always says that the only wish she has is to visit Tibet one day, as it is the only province in China she has never visited. — So you can imagine, for me, it was not even that important if the food was nice or not — but I want to be there.

So there we were. Once you entered the restaurant, you could see all of the staffs there with distinguishing Tibetan features — somehow, we knew we came to the right place, the food was going to be good and authentic.

The staff showed very warm smiles on their faces — I love their smile, the most honest, warm and welcome smile. It was smile more like welcoming a guest to their home, rather than ‘official trained smile’ of welcoming you to their business.

You tiao

While my friends (who could read German) were looking at the menu, my eyes curiously went around. — And you won’t be believe what I saw, I almost screamed —- Youtiao!! — one of the typical Chinese breakfasts, but here, they simply called ‘bread’, which was chopped into small pieces and served to customers as starters for free. I talked to the waitress the next day in Mandarin; she used rusty Mandarin to tell me it was called ‘You bing’, as ‘Oil bread / pan cake’. It tasted more like my ethnic group’s ‘You xiang’.

In Chinese cuisine, you would never see this as ‘starters’. What a lovely surprise! A baskets of ‘Youtiao’ was empty so quickly, we had to ask for another one. (They still did not charge us.) But the way they served was different to Chinese cuisine, probably there with ‘India’ influence, very similar to poppadoms serving — with different dips.

Packed Youtiao was placed on the shelves near the entrance, and there was a food preparing table, a middle aged chef was making the noodles and dumplings. After me ‘staring’ at him making dumplings (so impolite), he looked up time to time and give me a smile.

We ordered some starters and main courses, including stir fried beef, lamb curry, dumplings…

Those were the best dumplings I have ever tried outside China, not in Chinese restaurants, not in Japanese restaurants or Korean… My husband said that it was very similar to the ones I would make at home. — sorry, I am boasting my cooking, but what I want to stress is the ‘homemade’. These dumplings were steamed, so they were slightly bigger than boiled ones, but with very filling, tasty and juicy fillings and thin pastry sheet. (In normal restaurants, they would make the opposite, for making for profit). Only homemade could make this kind of ‘honest’ and tasty dumplings! And the taste — was very similar to northeast dumplings, or say my ethic group dumplings.

(To be continued)

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