ELMHURST — A self-trained chef recently opened a small restaurant selling popular Tibetan street food as "Himalayan Heights" expands into Elmhurst.
Tenzin Choepel opened Lhasa Liang Fen, at 81-15 Broadway, last week, serving a small menu of the noodle dishes and momos popular in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, where he was raised.
His specialty, which he learned from his wife, are lhasa and yellow laping — noodle dishes often sold from carts on Tibetan streets.
There's also a lhasa noodle soup, with a broth cooked for at least eight hours, a spicy cucumber salad,
And in addition to the requisite momos, the menu includes lhasa baozi, which are traditional Chinese dumplings filled with different meats in the Tibetan style.
Choepel, 41, worked for years in hotel management and at a Japanese ramen restaurant in Union Square, where he did all the morning prep. He learned a lot about cooking at the restaurant, and knew recipes from home.
But a lot of his cooking techniques are from the internet.
"When I get leisure time, I watch YouTube to learn," he said.
Lhasa Liang Fen is on a stretch of Broadway filled with restaurants including Thai, Chinese and Colombian.
It's the only Tibetan restaurant south of Roosevelt Avenue, further away from the cluster of Tibetan and Nepalese restaurants that dominate Jackson Heights.
It'll soon have company.
Another Tibetan restaurant, Himalaya, is set to open within the next few weeks right next door.
Choepel is excited for the other restaurant, and said he's offering more of a fast-food, take out style while the other restaurant will feature more sit-down tables.
"There's no problem," with two Tibetan restaurants in a row, he said. "There are many restaurants side by side."
Lhasa Liang Fen is open seven days a week, from 11:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.
There are a few tables inside the small storefront, and they hope to expand to delivery within the coming months.