Café Tibet, Berkeley: intriguing dishes

Diners enjoy lunch at Café Tibet in Berkeley

Diners enjoy lunch at Café Tibet in Berkeley. San Francisco Chronicle/John Storey

By Simon FF Young | San Francisco Chronicle

ON THE WEB, 20 December 2012

Going to Café Tibet is like going back in time, with a spinning prayer wheel at the front door and walls filled with memories of lost Tibet.

Chef/owner Samten Chinkarlaprang was born in Tibet and worked at the legendary Stars in San Francisco for seven years, introducing gourmet momos to the menu. She opened her restaurant more than a decade ago, creating a menu that’s adapted to the Western palate.

The momos and the noodles, the restaurant’s most popular dishes, are made by hand. Try the traditional sha momo ($10.95) filled with beef or chicken. Vegetarian versions are excellent, including the ngotsel momo ($10.95) filled with spinach, feta, mozzarella, onion and ginger, and served with a mild mint sauce.

For a soup, ngoe-thang ($6) brings a mix of fresh spinach puree with tofu and a spoonful of yogurt, ginger, and garlic. A vegan dish worth ordering is dholooma tsa-tsel ($9.95), oven-roasted eggplant in garlic sauce, served with basmati rice or traditional tingmo, a steamed garlic bread.

Finish it all off with a ginger creme brulee ($5.50) to share, and you’ll be pleasantly transported back to the present.

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