Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tibetan New Year, Jackson Heights, Queens & The New York Times

A couple weeks ago I received a phone call from the photo editor at The New York Times to shoot a new story. She wanted me to visit two Tibetan restaurants and capture everything about their special dumplings - momos - handmade all night and stuffed with a variety of fillings for Losar, the Tibetan Lunar New Year celebration. The story printed just in time as festivities began.

Needless to say it was an exemplary experience worth repeating! In fact, I am eager to return to Phayul Restaurant, pronto. The quality of their food - and the owners who were so obliging and sweet - is worth getting to know better. Humble people with some really special things to share...

Dawa Lhamo, one of the owners, makes dumplings like these for much of the night

Hand-rolling the dough - supremely meditative to behold

Each kind of momo has a different shape

The red sauce is sepen - a homemade garlicky, fiery chili sauce. Foreground (cup) is a flavorsome beef bone broth

Left: Tsak sha la kor hot, a beef-daikon creamy broth that packs a punch...!

This scene tells the feeling well

Norling Tibet Kitchen, the second location for my shooting that night, is literally across the street from the Jackson Heights subway hub. Until recently is has been Chautari Restaurant, so if you know it by that name, you have found the right place. :) They're doing a variety of inspired foods - obviously Tibetan, but also some Indian to go with the dominant flavor of the neighborhood, and Nepalese cuisine as well.

Right: crispy vegetable pakoras with sepen

This scene looks like a still from a movie, I thought...

How lucky am I that I can go to amazing restaurants here in New York City, and some of the best international cuisine lies just a wee bit further in an oasis like Queens?? Take the train and do it now. And then write me and thank me once you have gotten your fill of momos and tingmo and all that is deliciously Tibet.


  1. Gorgeous, looks so good! You really captured it!

  2. Fantastic Melina!! I especially love the photos you took at the second place, really cool.

  3. Melina you have captured the essence of the place so well. Thank you for the beautiful virtual transportation.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed this journey with you on your photo shoot. I just can't imagine doing what I enjoy so much as a real JOB! I'm definitely off to see your other photo shoots. Wonderful photos.

  5. Thank you all!
    Sarah R - I was shooting so quickly, trying to capture all the interesting and fleeting moments. Thanks :D

    Valery, do you like the moodiness at the second place, or how would you describe it? I found the feeling to be as if from film stills...

    Kulsum, your comment is so sweet. Thank you for your thoughtful reflection.

    Sarah-thyme, so glad you enjoyed it! I am VERY lucky to be able to get jobs like this. An adventure and an exercise, all in one experience! Thank you for stopping by - so nice to meet you :)

  6. Oh, I wish I were in NYC right now!! These photos bring me back their in a heartbeat. So many amazing restaurants and this one is captured so wonderfully through your lens! Just discovered your blog and I'm a new follower!