I first came across nutrela, a dried soy product, while I was traveling in Nepal, and that’s where chef Tenzing Tsering came across it as well. Pre-cooked Nutrela has, I think, something of an image problem. In fact I think it looks a little like dry dog food. But when cooked properly, as Tsering does here, it’s delicious and quite beautiful. Despite the simplicity of the finished dish here it was amazingly rich, and my favorite of all of the many dishes that Tsering cooked for us that day. And he cooked us a lot of food. This project has introduced me to many wonderful and generous chefs, but I have to say that Tsering may be one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. He genuinely cares about people and sees feeding people as an act of community service. When the food is as good and as fresh as his, it’s hard to argue with.
In addition to my usual collaborators — Donny Tsang and Scott Lindrup with cameras, and Bayard Russell providing music — I want to thank Jeff Orlick for recommending Chef Tsering and Punda Tibetan Restaurant to me.
Punda Tibetan Restaurant — 3935 47th Ave, Sunnyside
An hour on the train from Brooklyn to Jackson Heights, Queens. Why is there no better way to get from here to there? Instead you have to go into the city to get to either borough which is a waste of time. It’s probably why many people in Queens don’t ever come to Brooklyn and vice versa. It was June 2006 that I was in Jackson Heights last, I wonder why it took me so long to come back. It has become a must stop for all foodies looking for good food. Recently there has been an increased in the Tibetan community and that means GOOD TIBETAN FOOD! Always go eat where the locals eat. Lucky me, one of the person I was going to have lunch is Tibetan so can’t go wrong there. Obviously we left the ordering to him. I never had Tibetan food and didn’t know much about it so I couldn’t compare it to another Tibetan meal. We started the meal with a lassi, I got a mango lassi. Since Tibet and India are neighbors, it’s funny how you can get lassi at a Tibetan restaurant also. I just love it when people exchange cultures and food. And when the food came I totally saw the influence from the Chinese culture. Since this was my very first Tibetan meal I didn’t know what to expect or how things tasted but once the dishes came everything seem so familiar. Like the buns, the chili pork, and the stir-fried noodles. Looked and sounded like a typical Chinese meal. I’m not sure if our friend ordered every spicy thing on the menu or if Tibetan food is that spicy, everything on table was quite spicy. I was also surprised to find myself loving the blood sausage eaten with the bun. I’m not big fan of anything blood but it was quite good and reminded me of Irish blood pudding. Everything was quite good and I was quite full at the end. I guess my biggest problem with it was and this might go for other ethnic foods, what made it Tibetan? If I had pad thai, I knew I was eating Thai food or *duh sushi, I knew I was eating Japanese but what made this meal stand out as Tibetan? I am not sure and maybe next time if I see our friend again I’ll ask him OR just make another trip out to Om hahahaa. It was delicious though!!!
-Om Tibet 4005 73rd St, Jackson Heights, Queens
Posted by Donny