17 April 2023

Five minutes with Jinpa Gyatso, Tasty Tibetan Treats

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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man in restaurant

Region spent five minutes with Jinpa Gyatso from Tasty Tibetan Treats. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Who is Jinpa Gyatso? I am the owner of Tasty Tibetan Treats. We’ve been operating for one year and four months. I came to Wagga in 2019, and before I opened the restaurant, I used to run stalls just selling momos (the Tibetan version of dumplings) at the Wagga Showground, Saturday Markets and big events.

A lot of people said they loved my food and they pushed me to open a restaurant. Last year I opened the restaurant and added more items to the menu. Wagga locals are great and I have a lot of regular customers that come to the restaurant and they always support us. The support is great for someone like me with a small business.

I moved to India and lived there for four years and I moved to Australia in 2014 and lived in Sydney until 2019.

Best recent dining experience: I can’t remember the name, but it was a Thai restaurant on the northern beaches in Sydney.

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Favourite cuisine: Tibetan. My favourite food is my momo, shapaley (authentic Tibetan meat pie is a street food that is deep-fried and served with spicy chutney) and thenthuk (hand-pulled noodle soup) and I have them for lunch and dinner. Shapaley is my most favourite food. When I was a little boy, I got very sick and the medical centre and hospital were very far from my town and I was unable to get any medication. But my grandma made shapaley for me and after a few hours of having it, I felt better.

Most embarrassing pantry item: I don’t think I have any.

Tibetan soup

Thenthuk is a hearty noodle soup that is popular in Tibet and the surrounding regions. Photo: Tasty Tibetan Treats.

Which ingredient can you not live without? Minced beef.

How many Weet-Bix do you do? I eat them sometimes and have maybe two.

cooked breakfast

Jinpa says his restaurant offers the biggest breakfast in town. Photo: Tasty Tibetan Treats.

Best coffee spot in Wagga? Two years ago, I used to go to Larry’s on Best Street. They were good. I make coffee at my restaurant.

What’s your coffee blend? Harris Coffee. They have over 100 years of history.

banana crepes

Fresh banana crepes with caramel are a must-try on the dessert menu. Photo: Tasty Tibetan Treats.

Next big thing in the Wagga food scene: I would like to start a momo bar. But momos with different fillings like beef, chicken, veggies, cheese, chocolate, spinach and potatoes.

Favourite place to lunch in Wagga: Most of the time, I’m here at the restaurant. I don’t really go out.

Tibetan dishes

Tasty Tibetan Treats is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a wide range of authentic menu options. Photo: Tasty Tibetan Treats.

A must-try on our menu: For breakfast, my big breakfast is the biggest and cheapest one in the town. Sometimes three people will come and share one plate. It has three hash browns, three sausages, three eggs, two toast, two tomatoes, bacon, baked beans, and mushrooms. For lunch and dinner, my momos, shapaley and thenthuk. I always make the noodles fresh every morning. People can also try the mixed plate with everything.

Most used ingredient at Tasty Tibetan Treats: Minced beef.

noodle dish

Spicy cold noodles. Photo: Tasty Tibetan Treats.

Our top pick from our desserts: Banana caramel crepes. I make the crepes fresh and big with warm bananas in caramel sauce.

My biggest culinary influence: My grandma. In Tibet, I grew up in the countryside while my grandpa and uncle would go up the mountain for work while grandma was at home cooking for grandpa and uncle. I was always living with her at the time and I learned how to cook most Tibetan food from my grandma.

steamed dumplings

Jinpa’s momos are particularly popular among his regular patrons. Photo: Tasty Tibetan Treats.

Favourite cookbook: Not really. I do look at a few English cookbooks, but I don’t know their names. If I would like to cook something, then I ask Google.

Who I admire in the Wagga food and wine scene: The owner of Mr Lawrence. He did a lot in a few years, operating a coffee shop and a restaurant. He has done good work for Wagga.

dumplings being made

Jinpa prides himself on making his food with fresh ingredients every day. Photo: Tasty Tibetan Treats.

What are this week’s specials at Tasty Tibetan Treats? Sometimes, I have weekly specials. This week it is mango lassi (creamy drink with mango, yoghurt, milk, sugar and cardamom).

Death-row meal: Kangaroo meat. When I was studying cookery in Sydney, my teacher taught me how to cook kangaroo meat.

Dream destination: My dream place … I would like to go back to my country. The last time I went there was in 2009.

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My least-favourite food: Seafood.

My top-three cooking tips: Always keep the kitchen clean. Always use fresh ingredients. I have worked in restaurants where they prepare the food and keep it for four or five days. It’s not fair and it’s not good. Somebody is giving money for food but you’re selling old things. And be happy while you’re cooking.

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