Rather than write out a list of foods, I figured it would be better to include another video of traditional Mongolian dishes. Mike Chen (Strictly Dumpling) does a good job of breaking down the traditional foods along with giving some great context for why Mongolian food is the way it is (namely: hearty, meaty, and fatty). Obviously, he’s not a local, and there are a couple of areas where he’s misinformed, but this video is well worth your time. (Made me drool!)
Modern Nomads, the restaurant where Chen eats in the video is a great place to go if you visit UB and want some traditional foods in a more foreigner-friendly package. You could also go to a Khan Buuz or a Khan Khuushuur, which are like Mongolian fast food (in that you get traditional foods rather quickly). However, small cafes dot the city everywhere and provide traditional dishes at a number of cost points. The cheapest chain that I know of is called Tse, where every dish is just $1. (Some of these restaurants are better than others.)
A few things I’d like to clarify from the Strictly Dumpling video*. The “gravy” that was served with the khorkhog is just the broth that results from the cooking method. It’s thicker than one would expect broth to be (probably because it isn’t strained at all) and definitely comes with plenty of melted fat in it. Personally, we really like it, but not all foreigners like fat! Another thing that stood out was what he called “grandma soup”, which is called banshtai tsai. Bansh are a type of dumplings that are made smaller than buuz. The soup part is really Mongolian-style milk tea! 🙂 A final note: while there are vegetarian (and even some vegan) options in UB, if that’s a hard and fast rule for you, keep alternative food options with you as you travel through Mongolia. It is very hard to avoid animal products (or cross-contamination), especially in the countryside.
What are some traditional Mongolian foods that you’d like to try?
*Please don’t take this as me bashing Chen’s video at all. In fact, I think his video is awesome, and I wish more people would watch it so that they have an idea of what they’re getting into when they get to Mongolia. Go support his other videos while you’re at it!
Another expat teacher shared this video on FB, and I thought it would be fun to share here. The only dish that we haven’t had is boodog, although it’s very similar to khorkhog (both are mentioned in the video). Enjoy!
PS. At some point, we’ll have to upload pictures of our travels during the break, but that might be another few days!
I just realized how long it’s been since we updated the blog (two months?!) so I’m going to drop a couple of shorter updates in here to keep all y’all apprised of what’s been happening in our lives lately. 🙂
First up: Thailand! We went to Chiang Mai, Thailand, again in late January/early February for our annual conference. Instead of going straight there, we took a brief detour through South Korea. Surprisingly, Incheon/Seoul felt way colder than UB even though it was significantly warmer. That’s the difference between a high desert climate and a marine climate, I guess! We made a local friend at the guesthouse where we were staying who showed us around and gave us some pretty great insights into Korean culture.
Thailand was good for rest and professional development at the conference. We also were able to reconnect with a bunch of the teachers who went through training and orientation with us prior to moving overseas, and that was fun and encouraging. One of the highlights of the trip involved all of the fresh fruit and veggies that we could eat while there, which leads to the next update (a long time coming)…
We are expecting! We found out at the beginning of October that we were expecting again, but considering how our first pregnancy had gone, we were hesitant to announce until we were 20 weeks along. We certainly intended to post something about this here sooner than now (29 weeks), but sometimes good intentions just fall by the wayside. The baby is due at the end of May, and the plan is to deliver locally at Intermed Hospital. My mom and Eric’s folks will be coming to visit us this summer (my mom flies in on the actual due date), and we are looking forward to seeing them and introducing them to both the new grandkid and to the city and country that we love.
We have a few things coming up with our school, so we will post again when those happen. Next week, we will head out to the countryside with our school to go to camp so look for pics and such in the next couple of weeks!
Here are a few scattered photos from our trip to southern California. It was so much fun to see friends and family, especially since we don’t see extended family very often. If we missed you while in Cali, we are sorry! If you’d still like to catch up with us while we are in the same time zone, we’d love to chat/skype/etc. 🙂
Now we are back up in Washington and looking forward to seeing more friends and family! Currently, we are with Eric’s cousins in his home town, and it’s lovely to see them again. This particular cousin lived with us a few years back, and we’ve very much enjoyed catching up and laughing. Laughter is good. ❤