Though it’s been around in Beijing since 2001, chances are you’ve never heard of Makye Ame. This national chain of Tibetan restaurants has two branches in Beijing: one near the Silk Market and one just north of Tuanjiehu Park. We visited the larger, glitzier location near Tuanjiehu Park.
Both branches have a boisterous nightly show at 8pm, with yak “dancing” (similar to lion dancing), colorful costume displays, singing, and dancing. The event is kitschy good fun, with guests invited on stage to try Tibetan singing and throat chanting – often with hilarious results. Kids over 7 years of age will enjoy the show, but younger children might get frightened by the noise. Service at Makye Ame is friendly and courteous.
Makye Ame offers a solid introduction to Tibetan cuisine, which makes heavy use of tsampa – roasted barley or wheat flour often mixed with tea or made into a porridge. A staple of Tibetan and Nepalese cuisine, tsampa is easy to carry and provides a rapid boost of energy during long treks. Pinches of tsampa are also thrown at marriages, birthdays, funerals, and New Year celebrations.
Tibetan cuisine tends to be quite heavy, with prominently featured yak meat and dairy products. Carnivores shouldn’t miss out on the rack of lamb ribs (kao yangpai) or the fall-off-the-bone stewed lamb meat (shouzhua yangrou). Yak butter tea (suyou cha) takes some getting used to, but the lightly salted drink is great for a cold winter’s night.
Major ingredients and condiments: Lamb, yak, goat meat, mutton, dairy products (e.g. butter, cheese, and yogurt), tsampa, noodles, mustard seed, sepen (Tibetan hot sauce)
Main preparation methods: Frying, stewing, baking, roasting, air drying
- Roast lamb ribs (烤羊排, kao yang pai): Meat-loving children will love this towering rack of yak ribs. Chili powder is served on the side. RMB 138.
- Pickled turnip and beef wraps (酸萝卜炒牛肉, suan luobo chao niurou): Pickled julienned turnip lends tanginess and crunch to these mini-burritos. The best part? The staff can help you assemble them for a mess-free experience. RMB 68.
- Pureed spinach soup (巴拉巴尼, bala bani): For children with milder tastes, this dish is similar in flavor and texture to Indian palak paneer. RMB 48.
Family facilities: The western-style bathrooms are decently clean, with soap and toilet paper. Highchairs are available. There are non-smoking areas and smoking areas in the restaurant.
Makye Ame 玛吉阿米
1) Daily 10-midnight. 11A Xiushui Nanjie, Jianguomenwai, Chaoyang District (6506 9616) 朝阳区建国门外秀水南街甲11号; 2) Daily 10am-midnight. 2/F, Jinhuyuan Gongyu, Baijia Zhuang Dongli 23, Chaoyang District (6508 8986) 朝阳区白家庄东里23号锦湖园公寓会所2层
Photos: Uni You