One of the many appealing things about Tibetan Buddhism is the belief in reincarnation: based on how you behaved in your last life, you’ll either be promoted to a higher species, or demoted to something horrible. Personally, I find this idea of species-justice far less frightening than the whole heaven/hell thing, and would welcome my next punishment-life on earth as something like an Estuarine Stonefish, which this newspaper once described as “a big, ugly hypodermic needle filled with poison” that “looks like J. Edgar Hoover’s head rotting on the sea bottom.” My kinda next-life.
But if I’d done good in this life and built up better karma, then I’d have a reincarnation as auspicious as the recent makeover at TIBET RESTAURANT. Long one of our favorite downtown eateries, Tibet Restaurant (formerly Tibet Kitchen) recently brought in eXpat hero Doug Steele for a makeover, and folks, the results are out of this world.
Tibet Restaurant’s main flaw used to be its decidedly 90s-era interior, which was too drab and depressing to appeal to the Putin-era taste for exotica. Now, the basement restaurant feels like a cheerful opium den with an accent on warm relaxing reds from draped ceilings to the walls and settings. This is no longer a place just for expat business lunches; now it’s a restaurant for an evening of mouth-watering, spicy dining and Buddha-like relaxing.
The food is the best part of the story. I’ve always been a fan of a few older Tibet Restaurant mainstays like the chicken wings, but Doug has upped the mouth-watering factor with a menu overhaul. Doug knows his Tibetan cuisine: he opened up the first Tibetan restaurant nearly a decade ago, Tibet Himalaya, and has long ties to the only Buddhist republic on European soil—Kalmykia. The new menu is a sort of “best of” of Tibets Himalaya and Kitchen, meaning diners are ordering just the hits, ma’am.
The first dishes I tried were the new Spicy Fried Potatoes, a genuinely spicy dish that brings to mind the best Indian potato dishes, as well as deep-fried spicy chilis with a honey sauce. Next I tried the Mustard Sesame Chicken, perfectly cooked to keep the juiciness inside, and an unusually delicious Shredded Radish Salad with cilantro and lemon juice, a perfect palate cleanser for the real delights to come.
A quick rundown of your “must try” dishes include the Pork With Pepper (Fak-Sha Khatsa), cooked with capsicum and chili sauce, so delicious that just typing in the name has my salivary glands a-squirtin’; and the Chicken Auido cooked with red chilis and raw peppers. Other savory offerings include Spicy Chicken Chili Noodles, which had my girlfriend screaming for the Pozharnie, as Cumin Garlic Rice, one of the tastiest flie-lie plates you’ll ever shove your muzzle into.
I sampled these dishes before they made it to menu, and as I've been told the prices for the new hit-menu will stay within Tibet Restaurant’s Val-U range. Doug has other cool surprises in store for visitors, such as real Tibetan snuff, which could become the kalyan of the Medvedev Era.
Finally, a spicy Asian restaurant that will pull me away from Maharaja. In 2008, I know where I’ll be eating…and improving my soul’s chances of coming back to earth as something better than a Fleck’s Box Jellyfish.
Address: Kamergersky per. 5/6
Check out Tibet's entry in our BarDak restaurant guide.