sharing the Olympic spirit
OLYMPICS/ Spotlight

A taste of Tibetan culture
By Chen Bei Staff Writer
Updated: 2008-06-05 17:38



Tibetan restaurants in Beijing are gearing up for more August diners, who are adventurous and looking for a taste of Tibetan culture.

It's Thursday night around 8:30 pm and Norbulindka, a new-renovated Tibetan restaurant at Beijing's Nuren jie, or Ladies Street in Chaoyang District, is filled with live Tibetan music and diners' applause.

Patrons at the terracotta-colored wooden booths sip on a salty-tasting Tibetan tea called ma cha, while their eyes are focused on Tibetan singers and dancers performing on stage.

Waiters clad in colorful Tibetan brocade robes walk around the tables, serving platters of sizzling lamb steak and Tibetan staple food  tsampa.

"It's very Tibetan," says a woman surnamed Li who works in a five-star hotel in Beijing. "The food, the music, the interior decor, and the waiters and performers' dresses… everything here is spiced with ethnic flavors."

Yan Hua, an aerospace institute researcher who sits next to Li's table, claps to the music, saying, "It is amazing that I am here listening to an original Olympic song , which successfully fuses the elements drawn from the Tibetan music and pop."

Five minutes later, Yan goes up to chat with the singer and composer Wanma Sanzhi, who tells the inquisitive diner most Tibetan restaurants in the capital have Tibetan performers at night.

About 10 restaurants serve up Tibetan fare in Beijing. With the Olympics not far away, many of these places aren't just using kitchen recipes to get diners in– they present not only Tibetan meals but Tibetan culture as well.

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"The diners are not only curious about our cuisine but also our culture, including music, religion, and architecture," explained Mou Dejing, manager of Makye Ame, the capital's oldest Tibetan restaurant with its headquarters in Lhasa.

Its owner, a Tibetan Buddhist and former journalist, plans to give guests "more authentic Tibetan plays, dances and songs" in August.

"We have finalized a repertoire of classic Tibetan plays and more folk artists will come from Lhasa, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai, where many Tibetans live," said Mou.
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