City Hangout – Lhasa Restaurant, Ramesh market
Somewhere in Tibet.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It has the charm of an improvised restaurant. As if a mother decided to turn the family drawing room into a part-time eatery one morning.
Actually, that’s true up to a point.
Tsamachoe Dolma opened her hard-to-find Lhasa Restaurant in the busy Ramesh Market in south Delhi’s East of Kailash some 10 years ago. She now lives in Dehradun, but left the management of the place in the efficient hands of her son, Kelsang, his girlfriend Tsering and niece Tenzin. Sangoi, the dog, also used to live here but he too is in Dehradun.
This is late afternoon and lunch hour has ended. Most customers have left, and owner Kelsang, who is also the chief cook, emerges from the kitchen. The entire staff sits down with two friends over a meal of veg kothay, chicken fry rice and chilli garlic noodles. Everyone’s chatting in Tibetan. You might as well be somewhere in Lhasa or in its Indian counterpart McLeodganj. Behind the counter, a garland of green fairy lights is draped around the Dalai Lama’s portrait, and a large poster is showing a brilliant blue sky looming over the Potala Palace, which used to be Dalai Lama’s residence in Lhasa.
Amy Winehouse is singing Back to Black on TV. The dim light and lazy vibes make you want to slump down on the sofa and snooze. Or, maybe you’d like to eat first.
The tasty Tibetan dishes are cheap enough to order generous spreads on shoe-string budgets. In fact, vegetable momos and clear soup alone make for a happy combo. Make sure to try the powdered red chilli garnish. End the meal with ginger honey lemon tea.
On exiting, all you can see is Ramesh Market’s tight lane and a mumbo-jumbo of shops. The chaotic setting makes it difficult to believe that another world exists just behind a door.
South Delhi Lhasa