Tuk ba is a traditional Tibetan dish that we experienced by accident. Because we visited Lhasa during the Tibetan New Year, Losar, many of the typical touristy sites were closed, including the standard “western-style” lunch restaurants where guides usually bring their tour groups. Our guide Tsewang tentatively suggested that we might eat a traditional Tibetan lunch in one of the nearby local restaurants and seemed genuinely surprised when we nodded our heads eagerly. Tsewang brought us to the Yundruk restaurant, close to Barkhor Square and the Jokhang Temple which we had been visiting. We walked up the back stairs to a sparsely furnished lounge-like space where dozens of local Tibetans were all feasting on tuk ba, the restaurant’s specialty (and also apparently their only dish — we didn’t see anyone eating anything else).
The traditional noodle dish is a spicy soup served with small bits of yak meat. The dish is eaten with chopsticks, which we still have not quite mastered (especially for soups), so it was amusing to see the locals down their soups in a quarter of the time it took us.