Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Very Special Lunch at Anyetsang's Little Tibet Restaurant

The Foodie Boyfriend is friends with one of the son of the owners
of Anyetsang's and he knew that I wanted to do a more thorough story
of this wonderful little restaurant.  
So he was kind enough to set up a special lunch for us.

 Anyetsang's (pronounced eye-nyetsang's) sits on a shady street just off the IU Bloomington campus and a couple of blocks from downtown.
This is a street lined with old Victorian era homes, many of which have been turned into ethnic restaurants like Anyetsang's.  

This street is appropriately known as Restaurant Row.

These restaurants are a favorite with towns people, college students, and IU faculty.
During the school year it is nigh impossible to find a parking spot along this street.


The day before the Foodie Boyfriend had stopped by to set things up for our visit.
He made sure that we would be arriving at a time when they would not be as busy, so as to not duly inconvenience them, to inform them of my chicken allergy, and to tell them to set the spice level at a two (the levels going from one to five, with five being the spiciest).  

Before we get back to the food, I'd like to delve a little into the history of the struggle of Tibet.
Tibet is the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of 16,000 feet.  
As with many ancient civilizations, the history reads like a soap opera.

In 1949 the Chinese government began their most recent takeover of the Tibetan government.

Many Tibetans began to escape over the mountains after the Chinese invaded their homeland.
Many have sought refuge in the United States.
There are around 6 million Tibetans world wide.
They recognize His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama 
as the spiritual leader of Tibet.

Bloomington is honored to be the home of the only
Tibetan Cultural Center in the United States.
The Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center sits just outside Bloomington and was founded in 1979 by the brother of the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

Bloomington has enough of a Tibetan presence that we have two Tibetan restaurants in town.

It is an ongoing struggle for the people of Tibet to free their homeland from the rule of China.
The Dalai Lama as been in exile from Tibet since 1959 and he has recently attempted to negotiate with China, seeing economic benefit for his people.
China, however, is suspicious of his motives and refuses all attempts at reconciliation.

And now a bit about Anyetsang's Little Tibet.
The owners are Thupten and Lhamo Anyetsang and their sons Tenzin and Rinzin.
They opened the restaurant in August of 1998 in a small house on 4th Street.
Their goal was to have the outside of the house look like a humble Tibetan house.  Inside, the house is decorated with paintings and figures of Himalayan villages, yaks, and waterfalls.

Outside, a waterfall sits in the side courtyard.

Thupten was eight years old when he walked over the mountains to escape the Chinese  invasion and occupation of his homeland.*

*Source: Herald Times Online, Brian Werth, August 26, 1998

Back to the food:

At one point Mr. Anyetsang came out and told us about the dishes he had prepared for us.
He explained that they make every thing fresh, every day.
Only our soup had been made an hour earlier.

In fact, after inquiring how our food was, one of the sons informed us that he was off to get more groceries from several grocery stores in town.  When asked how often he goes on food runs, he said he goes every day.  The food doesn't get any fresher than that.

Anyetsang's serves authentic Tibetan, Thai, and Indian cuisine.

Awards and Honors for Anyetsang's Little Tibet Restaurant

Best of Bloomington award winner for:
Best restaurant for world cuisine
Best restaurant for a culinary experience
Best ambiance for outdoor dining

"The best is Little Tibet" - New York Post

"Little Tibet serves true Tibetan food" - Radio Voice of America 

"Little Tibet is exactly the kind of restaurant I want to see succeed.  Its charming ambiance and tight-knit staff is a welcome turn from the indifferent and apathetic personnel at many Bloomington restaurants...  the food was simply wonderful.  For those willing to try something different, Little Tibet offers one of the more rewarding and unique dining experiences in town." - IDS restaurant review

"Serves the best momo of Tibetan restaurants in the whole Midwest." - Rangzen Allians Tibetan News

 "Little Tibet is known not only for its food, but also for its political position as well.  Also focuses on authenticity... and is definitely an important part of our community." - Indiana Daily Student

"Anyetsang's Little Tibet Restaurant presents a charming taste of the Himalayas without Jet Lag." - Indianapolis Monthly

"Little Tibet offers an assortment of delicious Tibetan/Asian dishes... behind this restaurant lies a remarkable story." - Bloomington Herald Times

Also featured in the New York Times and Tibet Times.

I ordered a mango Lassi.
A lassi is a yogurt-based drink which is popular on the Indian subcontinent.

It is also very good for cooling the mouth when eating spicy foods.

We were offered the choice of soup or salad for our first course and we all chose the salad as it was a warm day and we knew we would be having soup for a later course.

The salad consisted of mixed greens, cucumbers, carrots, and red onions.
The dressing was made with soy sauce.  It had just a hint of sweetness to it without being overpowering.

The owners chose the rest of the meal for us and the dishes were served family style.

First up was a plate of Mo Mos.

Momos, a staple of the Tibetan diet, are either steamed or fried dumplings filled with ground beef, chicken, goat, yak, pork, water buffalo, lamb, or vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes, or chayote, depending upon the region of Tibet one is in.  Seasonings and other flavorings are added to the main filling.

Our momos were steamed and were filled with beef. The ground beef was mixed with green and yellow onions and flavored with Tibetan seasoning.
This was then served with their special hot sauce and soy sauce.

Next time I want to try the fried momos.

And I love their hot sauce.
This was a level three hot spice.

Next up was the Kham Amdo Thugpa.
Kham and Amdo refer to regions in Tibet and Thugpa, or thukpa, is Tibetan for soup.
This is a hearty stew of handmade Tibetan noodles, daikon radish,
assorted vegetables, green onions, cilantro, and spices.
The protein choices are beef, chicken, pork, or tofu.
Ours was made with beef.

Mr. Anyetsang explained that this dish is very good for when you have a cold.
I have to agree and I have to say that I loved it.  I squeezed some of my orange wedge in it and that brightened up the flavors even more.

The final dish of the day was Temo Sha Tsel served with jasmine rice.
Temo Sha Tsel is a dish of stir-fried assorted vegetables flavored with Tibetan seasoning. We were offered beef with our dish, but one may choose beef, chicken, shrimp, or tofu.

Some of the vegetables in this dish were carrots, bean sprouts, onions, green beans, bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, and tomatoes.

After the dishes were explained to us and I had taken the beauty shots, we dug in and served ourselves.

This all looks so good.

The Temo Sha Tsel was good and the jasmine rice was cooked perfectly.

I love the momos. 
And I really like that hot sauce.
I was putting it on everything.

But the Kham Amdo Thugpa?
This dish stole the show.
I had two or three servings.

To the Anyetsang family, I thank you so much for giving us this special dining experience.
It was greatly appreciated.
I look forward to dining with you again.


Rosie Hawthorne said...

That looks wonderful! I'm glad you had this experience and I thank you for the Tibetan lesson. Very interesting.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

And I like your photographs.