By Kuheli Bhattacharya Rane
Goa is a treasure trove for a foodie with small and big eateries serving wonderful cuisine from around the world. The only way to discover all that Goa has to offer is to ask other Goan foodies their favourite eateries. That’s how we discovered this little eatery in down South Varca, hidden behind a Goan house and a grove of coconut trees – Tibchi’s, the place to sample authentic Tibetan food.
Tibchi is a combination name for Tibet and China and that’s exactly what this place serves up, Tibetan and Chinese fare. Owned and run by Gary and Poonam, this is just a two person show, but their love for the food they serve has kept it going since 2009.
Ambience: With plastic chairs, the open air concept is covered up in plastic for the rains, so are the table cloths. A bit of a shack-like feel except that it doesn’t have the quintessential candle lights and sea waves which make even the drabbest of shacks seem a romantic heaven in Goa. The Tibetan prayer flags and the poster of Dalai Lama which mark each and every Tibetan eatery I have had the pleasure of dining in is also absent, making us wonder if we are in the right place.
Food: If there is one reason for you to come to Tibchi then the Tibetan fare is definitely it. In fact Gary informs us that most of his clientele is takeaways, though they do not offer home delivery because of being short staffed. Momos are perhaps the most well known of Tibetan food, and if your sole introduction to these steamed dumplings is the makeshift counter at Inox then you will love the ones in Tibchi’s. Silky smooth flour dough wrapped around well seasoned minced meats, formed into bite sized shell shapes -what’s not to like. Dunk the steaming hot momos in an equally fiery chilli sauce, and you have the perfect recipe for a rainy Goan evening. I love to have my momos with a light broth, the way they serve it on the streets of Calcutta, and that brings us to the thukpa and the thenthuk.
The thukpa was a mildly flavoured clear broth with noodles and veggies. We had the prawn thukpa and there was a generous quantity of minced shrimps in it. We then ordered the mixed meat thenthuk, and this was more flavourful and gamey; it might have been because of the little pork and beef minced meats. The thenthuk had little kernels of dough, not unlike the outer covering of the momos. Both soups are meals in themselves and quite balanced ones at that what with the proteins, carbs and vegetables all served up in one neat bowl. Soupy noodles is a staple with many of the places in hilly terrain, be it Nepal, Bhutan or Tibet. Unlike their south East Asian counterparts, these do not have a base of coconut milk.
If steamed dumplings and healthy soups are not your thing and you crave the deep fried in this awesome mausam, then the shabhaklep is what you should order. Pies made with the same kind of filling as the momos, but this time the outer dough is more like our fried karanjis and nevryos. Known as fala, these pies are more suited to the Indian palate, than the healthier steamed options.
Tibchi’s has a finite menu, but their claim to fame is their authenticity and clean simple no frills attached fare.
Rating: Ambience- 2/5 plates, Food- 3.5/5 plates, Service- 3/5 plates, Shortcomings: understaffed, difficult to find.
Go here for: momos, thukpa, the whole Tibetan fare.
By Kuheli Bhattacharya Rane