Dining out with friends can foster healthy relationships that might otherwise be limited to impersonal group texts or overly personal bath-time visits. Get a bite in person with a person with today's Groupon: for $12, you get $24 worth of Tibetan cuisine at Lhasa Café in Northampton.
Thondup and Dolma Tsering, the owners of Lhasa Café, share the flavors of their faraway homeland with a menu of traditional Tibetan dishes. In the kitchen, head chef Kalsang Dickyi stuffs mo-mo dumplings ($11–$17) with meats or veggies and peps them up with simple spices, garlic, ginger, and enthusiastic renditions of "We Will Rock You." Herds of cubed bean curd stampede across tabletops into the vegetarian tsel tofu's mélange of cabbage, carrot, and spinach ($10).
Diners can seal their meals with house-fried apple patties and ice cream ($5) or surprise thirsty gullets with bocha tea ($2), which is lightly buttered, salted, and churned with milk until it's as thick as dimwitted thieves.
When China invaded Tibet, Thondup and Dolma Tsering's family escaped to India, and the two children enrolled in school for Tibetan children. They graduated and eventually moved to the United States in 1997, where they founded a business that would celebrate their culture: Lhasa Cafe. Today, as the cafe celebrates it's tenth anniversary, chef Tenzin Tsewang leads the staff at the restaurant, and Thondup and Dolma can still be found helping out around their authentic Tibetan restaurant on weekends. In the kitchen, chef Tenzin and Namdol cook all dishes to order and make dumplings in-house from scratch; they use only fresh ingredients and refuse to use MSG or decorative glitter.
The staff follows recipes according to the Tibetan culinary tradition, which incorporates subtle seasoning and a lot of ginger, garlic, and the emma peppercorn. There’s also an emphasis on yak meat, which is lean and low-cholesterol and tastes comparable to beef. It takes center stage in dishes such as traditional mo-mo dumplings, pan-fried noodle dishes, and stews. Also on the menu: vegetable dumplings, vegetarian noodle soups, and lamb and chicken curries.