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.”
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.
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.
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?