A Tibetan Blogger Shares Her Views on Tibetan Restaurants

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by a female Tibetan blogger that was posted on her AmdoTibet blog on December 19, 2011

Here at High Peaks Pure Earth we love food and all things food-related, today’s blogpost reminded us about the article about Tibetan identity assertion through food that we published last year. This blogpost continues the themes we raised in that post! From the blog, it would appear that the author is based in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan province and, according to this recent state media article, home to “more than 30,000 permanent Tibetan residents and a floating population of 150-200,000 Tibetans”

If any readers know about the quality of Tibetan restaurants in Chengdu and have any comments to make, please let us know!

Views on Tibetan Restaurants

Although I heard about the new restaurant in the Tibetan area, I didn’t get a chance to go for a long time. Last Saturday, I had an opportunity to go there with some of my friends. Neither our little money can make much difference for those Tibetan restaurants, nor will our absence affect their finances. The workers of the restaurants might be praying to get rid of such customers like us. However for me, whenever I go to the Tibetan area I always try to find a Tibetan restaurant. I always give my first preference to a Tibetan restaurant when I have enough free time. I may not be the only one who thinks like this, many other Tibetans who are living in this big city might be thinking the same as me. Because I know, it is not easy for any kind of job and business such as restaurants and shops to run successfully in this competitive place. That is why I think it is very important for those Tibetans living in this big city to support each other. I went to the new restaurant with this kind of motivation.

Unfortunately, like many other Tibetan restaurants, the workers and the service in this new restaurant was not satisfactory. For instance, I asked for a Tibetan butter tea but it took so long that finally I had to warn the waitress that either she should serve it or I would have to leave the table. It is truly not easy to own and to run such an expensive restaurant so I tried to put some helpful suggestions for their betterment as follows.

First and foremost, to serve good food should be the prime concern of any restaurant.

Therefore, it is very essential for any restaurant to have their speciality or uniqueness in the taste of their food. For example, vegetarians like me would say the vegetarian noodles of this restaurant is good and the potato momo of that restaurant is better. Like this, whenever people talk about any restaurants, they come up with their speciality. It is also very important to give importance for the quality of food you serve.

Secondly, food should be served on time.

These days, apart from one or two Tibetan restaurants, many of them take an hour or an hour and a half to serve food. As a result, it is very rare for people on tight schedules to visit such restaurants. In this case, usually people prefer to go such places only when they have enough time.

Last time as well, they took half an hour to serve my first dish and an hour and half for the second dish. If they run their restaurant like this, people who are busy and people who don’t like waiting may stop coming to this kind of restaurant.

If the restaurant took less time in serving the order, there would be more possibility of more customers which would then make a great difference in making a profit in their business.

Thirdly, hygiene and keeping clean is the chief requisite of any restaurant.

This is especially for those who have been running a restaurant for a long time. The surroundings in the cities are not as clean compared to Tibet, so keeping your restaurant clean and hygienic has to be the prime concern of any restaurant.

One of my non-Tibetan friends told me about his experience, he loves to have Tibetan food and usually likes to visit Tibetan restaurants whenever he has time. One day, in one Tibetan restaurant, he found many houseflies and from that very moment on he never went to that restaurant again. At that time, with an opposing voice and unwilling expression, I told him that this is not only with Tibetan restaurants, many other restaurants have the same kind of problems. But if you really think deeply then I think my friend is right to some extent. This is due to our lack of attention to cleanliness.

Therefore, I think every restaurant has to be very careful about their cleanliness. And it is better for the entire Tibetan restaurant to give their attention towards cleanliness and provide a specific time of the day mainly for cleaning. As for this new Tibetan restaurant, I noticed that they do keep clean and it would be great if they could maintain this.

And the fourth point to ponder is the necessity of training for the staff.

Many of the Tibetan restaurants are deficient even in their body language towards customers. This is also one of the most important things to pay attention to for all Tibetan restaurants for their business to run well. It would be great if the waiters would welcome customers with pleasant smiles, this would make all the customers feel at home. Waiters would have to pay full attention while taking orders and respond to all customers with respect.

When a customer needs something, you have to serve them with a smile. And sometimes when it takes long to serve their order, then you should apologise respectfully to the customer for taking time. By doing so, customers will feel better and they will like to visit again. If it is the other way round, if you don’t serve well and don’t respond well, this will lead to fewer customers. So just as in other restaurants, it is very important for the staff of Tibetan restaurants to practice how to serve customers with a pleasant expression.

Fifth, all staff in the restaurant should be advised clearly about their duty.

Regarding Tibetan restaurants, mostly customers come for lunch and dinner. That is why workers should be given specific jobs for specific times. Like this new Tibetan restaurant, they have many workers which is enough capacity to serve well even if there is a rush of people. But still, this new Tibetan restaurant fails to satisfy customers as they have to call the waiters twice or thrice to give their orders which is mainly because they were not clear about what job they are doing. All Tibetan restaurants have to think carefully about these things too.

Sixth, some points which I want to share with you.

These days, restaurants are being adorned with many sacred thangkas which I think is not good. Places where people drink, smoke and where people eat meat is not an appropriate place to hang sacred thangkas. These sacred relics have their special place and have been put on altars for aeons. We are responsible for keeping our culture and traditions alive, not others. So, we have to take care of these things. Why don’t we put portraits of our Tibetan heroes on the walls like they do in Russian restaurants?

For me, I am totally new about these things but since I love Tibetan food and being a Tibetan, I thought we Tibetans should think about these things. I offer my apologies if my words have hurt anyone.

This post is also available in: Tibetan

1 Comment

  • These things happens in the west or east as well. Too much emphasis on preserving, but loosing the value in it. I dont see any point in usch preservation. If you visit any of Tibetan families in the west, their homes, decorated with thanka and kundun’s pictures everywhere, yet they do lot of unnecessary and world stuff in the same room with the thankas gazing down at you. I dont know how do they feel comfortable with such hypocritical stance. I had this same feeling long time back, never expressed to anyone accept during an argument with friends about this and that relating to Tibet. Since the author mentioned it, I just add my 10 cents here. Thanks!