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New in Ditmas Park -- Top Cafe Tibet

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Westminstress Jul 18, 2008 07:05 AM

Top Cafe Tibet opened just a few weeks ago and is well worth checking out. I've never had Tibetan food before, so I can't comment on the authenticity, but somebody is cooking up some love in the kitchen. The owners also run a deli next door, and apparently they were serving tibetan dumplings (momos) out of the deli, and the momos became so popular that they decided to open a restaurant!

So far, we haven't had anything bad, but here are some recommended items:

Momos -- Tibetan steamed dumplings. Beef, chicken, and veggie varieties are all good. The beef and chicken dumplings are VERY juicy. The veggie dumplings have a nice mix of fresh veggies and have needed a touch of salt on both of our visits. They will give you a combo plate if you ask, and they come with a creamy, tomatoey sauce spiked with cumin.

Tripe -- That's right, folks. If you like tripe, order it here! It's a perfect firm and springy texture, and it's nice and spicy.

You Choi -- Chinese green vegetable stir-fried with garlic and chilies.

Channa Katsa (spicy chickpeas) and Aloo Katsa (spicy potatoes) -- both very good. They do not taste the same, despite similarities in name.

We've also enjoyed chili pork, mango lassi, a couple of other things.

To sop up the sauce, you can order tingmo - tibetan steamed bread. The bread is very dense and chewy, served warm.

In general, the flavors are like an Indian-Chinese combo, with a twist. This is a really sweet little independent, family run business, with a very nice staff. We've been twice since it opened, and we'll definitely be back for more. You can find the restaurant on Cortelyou road, right next door to the Q station.

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    whitewhalechef RE: Westminstress Sep 7, 2008 06:49 PM

    i had both the beef and chicken dumplings. very juicy, and served with this orange-ish creamy slightly spicy sauce that is rather tasty when poured directly into a nipped-open dumpling.

    we had beef and chicken dumplings, the tibetan house salad (strong sesame flavor, with ground black sesame seeds, maybe a hint of oil?), and a great slightly spiced potato/spinach dish, with steamed knots of bread.

    the lemon/ginger tea was tasty, but i wish it were more strongly flavored. nice to cut the meat, though. maybe i'll try butter tea next time...

    2 Replies
    1. re: whitewhalechef
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      samiller45 RE: whitewhalechef Sep 11, 2008 09:36 AM

      Sounds great. Where is it located?

      1. re: samiller45
        efdee RE: samiller45 Sep 13, 2008 06:44 AM

        It's on Cortelyou Road between Marlborough and E. 16th, literally right over the Cortelyou Road stop on the Q train.

    2. j
      JackS RE: Westminstress Sep 14, 2008 05:37 AM

      I went there last night and loved it. The beef momos are simple -- just beef dumplings -- but quite good. I got the chili pork, which had a nice texture and flavor. I'd recommend getting with the tingmo (steamed bread) rather than the rice; the tingmo was a good medium to soak up the flavors. They also had a very spicy sauce that you could add on (I'm under the impression that spiciness isn't really native to Tibet, but what the heck, it tasted really good). We also got a tsel-something (I forgot the second word) that was a fried vegetable patty, basically, which also had a great texture.

      I have to add that I've lived in this neighborhood for almost four years now, and the eating options have expanded much for the better in that time. Top Cafe Tibet, Farm on Adderley, Mexico Lindo y q Rico, Shayna's, NYC ICY, 2 B Thai, and Pomme de Terre have all opened within the past two or three years, and they've all been delicious additions to the local dining scene.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JackS
        missmasala RE: JackS Sep 14, 2008 05:34 PM

        do you mean the NYC ICY on church? I just discovered this place as a post-soccer stop for my kids and am v. impressed with their ices. not every flavor is a winner, but they all taste fresh.

        also wanted to rec in-between bakery down the street on church. not the absolute best west indian food--but they have doubles and they are v. nice in there. a couple of doubles and an ice makes for a great post-soccer lunch.

        can't wait to try the tibetan place.

      2. yuriwebboy RE: Westminstress Sep 14, 2008 06:51 PM

        We went tonite . . . had the momo combo and the tibet thaili - also a spicy potato dish and the oatmeal soup w. chicken, peas, carrots and spinach. Everything was good - no complaints. I really enjoyed the lamb curry and some sort of cucumber dish in the thaili. Momo was also good. We are SO going back.

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          Westminstress RE: Westminstress Sep 16, 2008 04:25 PM

          How exciting to see more posts on this place! We go back a lot and everything is always good. The sweet tea (hot or iced chai) and butter tea are excellent. Once we had a really nice buttery soup with homemade noodles and vegetables -- very good especially with a dash of hot sauce. They have good goat sausage. Also the channa cholay (one of many spicy chickpea dishes) is fantastic. The waitresses are very nice and friendly, so don't be afraid to ask them for explanations and recommendations.

          And -- it deserves a thread of its own -- but the NYC ICY is awesome!

          And have you been to Bev's on Church Ave? We had really great oxtail there, and they are open on Sundays. Lots of good eats in this neighborhood.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Westminstress
            bobjbkln RE: Westminstress Sep 16, 2008 07:54 PM

            This sounds like an occasional destination place for a different type of asian meal. Is that right? Do they serve beer? If not, can you bring some?

            1. re: bobjbkln
              lambretta76 RE: bobjbkln Sep 17, 2008 05:49 AM

              Stopped in for a quick dinner last night and was pleasantly surprised. I took one of the tables outside next to the train tracks - despite the noise of the B and Q trains, I really enjoyed sitting outside. It transported me; it didn't feel like NYC, but instead Tokyo, Mumbai, any urban center with streams of people pouring from the station.

              As for the food, it was good, but I bet this place is very good and I'm just a stickler for dumplings. I started with the chicken momo for $4.99. While the dumpling skins were a bit thick and doughy (my only examples of momos are from Himalayan Yak and a Nepali stand in Jackson Heights, both of which had thinner skins). However, unlike Nepali momos which are often-times served with a big bottle of Heinz, these were served with a completely addictive spicy, mayonnaisy (or perhaps yogurty) sauce. The chicken filling was a little densely packed but was good enough. I think next time I'd try the beef ones.

              I forget the name of my entree, but it was potatoes and spinach in a slightly-curryish sauce. (It was $6.99, I believe.) The potatoes were a bit underdone, but I really liked how the spinach had just been added right before serving so that it was barely wilted. It reminded me of the excellent palak paneer served at Tabla Bread Bar. The sauce on this dish was quite tasty, and I took advantage of the accompanying tingmo (steamed bread) to sop it up.

              Of note, they have a display of various foods at the counter which can be ordered as a sampler platter - the most intriguing was a Tibetan goat sausage that I just didn't have the stomach for last night. I believe it was $6.99 for 2 dishes, or $7.99 for 3, but please correct me if I'm mistaken.

              Also, no idea if you can bring your own beer, but they do not sell any it seems. However, they are connected to the deli next door, which has a large selection of Russian and Ukraine beers.

              1. re: lambretta76
                yuriwebboy RE: lambretta76 Sep 17, 2008 03:25 PM

                I'm pretty sure I saw you (and your friend?) there around 8pm last night. Yes, you can bring beer in from outside or from the deli next door - and yes they have a really strange assortment of beers to choose from.

                The beef momo and the vegetable were my faves and I'll try and be adventurous and try the goat sausage next time.

          2. prunefeet RE: Westminstress Oct 5, 2008 12:59 PM

            Went last week with SteveR and others. I very much enjoyed it. We had an assortment of the dishes in the glass case, Steve would remember the names better than I, but there were two different chickpea dishes, an eggplant and potato dish, a dish with potato, radish and cucumber in a coarse reddish brown sauce...we had the chile pork, which was pork belly in a nice sauce...had a dish with chicken and cabbage shreds which was nice also...a lamb curry...the portions are small but the prices are really low. I thought everything was tasty and fresh tasting. Oh, and the momos...we had chicken and beef...the chicken were fine but the beef were really nice, there was an herb in there, maybe cilantro, and they were juicier...I did think they seemed like they had sat a while and been briefly nuked, seemed a bit tired but still enjoyable. Tingmo was good too. I would go back for sure.

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