Tibetan cuisine is a unique branch of the whole flavor system of the Chinese cuisine. The food original materials are usually beef, mutton, pork or chicken, and vegetables like potatoes, radish, onion, etc.
The main diet is rice, flour and barley. Tibetan is a national minority with famous ethnic characteristics. As one of the oldest ethnic groups in China and South Asia. It has many unique customs and diet habits.
As the capital of Tibet, Lhasa has the richest choice of food. So when you stay in Lhasa for a few days, please fully feel the charm of the local food.
While you are in the remote regions like Everest Base Camp and Ngari (where Mt. Kailash locates in), food choices become very limited. Only simple foods (instant noodles, fried rice, pancakes, omelets, etc.) are served. So, It’s best to bring some snacks before setting off the trek around the Mt. Kailash.
Here below you can find some general information about dining for Lhasa and Mt. Kailash Tour.
Butter tea or sweet tea:
Yak butter tea or sweet tea can be seen almost in every Tibetan family, it is the daily essential food for the Tibetans. They can also be ordered in any Tibetan tea house or restaurant, even in the tent hostel in the Everest scenic area or the teahouse tents at Mt. Kailash while do the Kailash trekking. We can say that as long as there are Tibetans, there will be yak butter tea or sweet tea.
Highland barley wine:
Highland barley is mainly produced in plateau area like Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan in China. It is the main grain of the Tibetan people. Barley wine, as its name implies, is a kind of wine made from barley. The Tibetans people are good at singing and dancing, Barley wine is also an important part of any festival or celebration.
Tsampa is one of the staple foods of the Tibetan families. Tsampa is the flour made from fried barley. Usually stirred with small amount of butter tea, cream residue or sugar with fingers, and squeeze the flour into a ball while eating. Tsampa has high nutrition also could help to resist cold.
Tibetan noodles: RMB 10
Tibetan noodle restaurants can be found in all the streets and alleys of Lhasa. Tibetan noodles are very common food for the local people. The existence of the Tibetan noodles almost as much important as yak butter tea or sweet tea. Getting up in the morning and have a bowl of Tibetans noodles to start a new day is probably the same as many people who can't start a day without coffee.
Tibetan hotpot: RMB 80-120
The Tibetan people mainly eat staple foods made from barley, and the most commonly seen diet also including yak meat, beef, mutton and various dairy products. Hence when you come to Tibet, please make sure to try the delicious local hotpot, besides the yak meat, a lot of local delicacies like matsutake, Tibetan pork all worth trying.
Once you leave Lhasa city and start heading to Shigatse, Mt. Everest scenic area or Mt. Kailash, the choices for food would narrow down.
First of all, the drive time is quite long, in order to arrive the destination as soon as possible, time for meals will not be too long, so mostly simple meals on the way.
Fried rice, fried noodles or dumplings: RMB 30-50
This is probably the most convenient choice, no matter it’s a big restaurant or small cafeteria, those dishes would be served. Since we usually travel in a group, and there are very few restaurants along the way, that means a lot of groups might dine at the same restaurant. Easy and convenient food could prevent you from a long waiting.
Generally speaking, you could choose to add eggs, pork, beef or mutton into fried rice or fried noodles. Tomato and fried egg noodle are the most ordered ones for soup noodles.
In the case of dumplings, usually each dumpling will be served with a dipping sauce. Most of the guests prefer egg leek or pork leek dumplings. Please tell your guide your preference and anything you don't like or allergic to.
Simple dishes: RMB 40-70
Generally speaking, our tourists in the group are from all over the world, it’s a wonderful coincidence brought us together. But different countries have different dining cultures and habits. It's true that many foreign tourists are not particularly accustomed to customs of Chinese people sitting at a big table and sharing food from the same plate. So the tourists usually order their own food instead of having a group meal.
In the case of Chinese food, the most popular dishes are Kung Bao chicken, fish-flavored shredded pork, Mapo tofu, tomato fried eggs and so on. Each dish will have a bowl of rice served together.
Instant noodles or pancakes: RMB 20-30
While at the Everest Base Camp or during the Mt. Kailash hiking, because of remote location and inconvenient transportation, also a bit far for getting drinking water, there are no proper restaurants in these places, usually only some convenience food like instant noodles or pancakes provided by accommodation hostel.
The same goes for hiking, with an average of around 5-6 kilometers, there would be a teahouse tent where you can rest for a while and have instant noodles. The guesthouse you stay overnight usually has pancakes, yak butter tea or sweet tea served, for the detailed menu you could check with the tent owner.