Food in Mongolia

Mongolia is known for it’s nomadic life style and rich culture. It is not know however for its food. I concluded with simple logic that Mongolian food would be different than the Mongolian BBQ I could get at the mall.

Mongolia is a land locked country and it gets really effin cold so plants can’t grow year round. So what do people eat?

My first taste of “Mongolia” happened when I was being shown UB with a local. I needed to get something to eat but everything was closed due to the holiday. He suggested we go to his place. Because of the holiday a variety of food was displayed which included the butt of a sheep and lots of diary products. The main dish was “sheep dumplings.” I loved dumplings in China so I thought I would have no problem with these! Well, they had absolutely no vegetables in them and they were so heavy I could barely stomach three. I was told, “If you eat meat you won’t get cold.”

Just me and a sheep butt.
At the bottom is sheep dumplings.

My main diet in China was noodles and in Mongolia the main diet is meat and dairy. I eat a little bit of meat and my diary portions went down significantly in China. I would have the occasionally piece of milk chocolate and a latte whenever I made a trip to Nanjing or Shanghai. With my new diet I felt better, lost some weight, and my skin cleared up significantly. I wasn’t sure if my body could even handle a diet of meat and diary.


When arrived in Mörön I was given yet again sheep dumplings. I was hungry after an overnight bus trip but still could only stomach about three. For dinner yet again I was given sheep dumplings. I thought, “Dear god, I don’t think I can live off of sheep dumplings for the next two months.” Thankfully I was given more than sheep dumplings through out the week. To summarize the food it was meat and rice with the occasional pickled vegetable. I also was given “vegetable soup” that had lots of meat in it.

For breakfast four days in a row I was given a meal of cucumbers and meat with white toast. (I think I was given this as the cook wasn’t there in the morning and this could be prepared the night before). I surprisingly really liked it and would even try to make it back in the states.

I had this for breakfast for four days in a row.

Ulaanbaartar, the capital, is a major city so there is a variety of options from Korean to American to Italian. I have really seen a little of everything. There are no McDonalds but there are Burger Kings. There are no Starbucks either but there is definitely a “cafe culture” in Ulaanbaartar with the most popular chains being Tom n’ Toms and Cafe Bene.

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I found a place called “Ramen House” near the State Department Store and I have been going the past few days as I can get a filling meal for cheap. I have been eating “curry chicken noodles” for 3800 tugrik or $1.87 USD. It’s has a nice combination of veggies and the broth isn’t spice at all.


I was recommended by two locals to try Modern Nomads so I decided to check it out. As a noodle lover I ordered the “traditional beef stir fried noodles.” It was a little too dry for my taste but I enjoyed the flavors of the peppers.


In China I always had thought, “I could eat Chinese food for the rest of my life and be completely happy!” And I still stand with that philosophy. I love Chinese food. I love the flavors and the diversity. I was never bored with food in China as I was always trying something new. On the other hand with Mongolia I could barely stomach three sheep dumplings.

Have you ever tried Mongolian food? What did you think of it?



6 thoughts on “Food in Mongolia

  1. I can’t be long time without eat Mongolian food specially meat. We has 4 season in winter time we eat meat otherhand in summer time we eat dairy products. it is also maden by milk. Our one of secret to spending winter by warm it is We eat meat. Mongolia has Coldest capital in the world hehe

  2. too much of meat which sucks because they only boil the meat with adding salt and nothing else…no wonders most outsiders have little or no options when it comes to a good local meal..

  3. Your post has me salivating! I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia for two years and became intimately familiar with the food. My favorite dish is tsuivan, the one in your header photo. What did you like the best?

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