Makye Ame, located on the Barkor Street, Lhasa, is the most famous Tibetan restaurants of the region with a great cultural significance. It is deemed by many people as the best Tibetan restaurant in the whole world. Due to its great cultural heritage it has become one of the places of interest for the tourists visiting Tibet. The restaurant is so popular that you will have to stand in queue if you visit it after 5pm.
Unique Features of Makye Ame
1. Mysterious Legend between Makye Ame and Tsangyang Gyasto:
The yellow building which is now known as Makye Ame used to be the palatial abode of the 6th Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyasto centuries back. And the name Makye Ame came from a poem written by him on the same name which means “pure lady” in Tibetan language. As per legends once Tsangyang Gyasto was taking respite in his rest room when pretty young lady unveiled the curtain of the room and glanced inside. Her astral beauty illuminated the entire tavern along with Gyasto’s heart. Being enchanted with the beauty of the lady Gyasto wrote a nice poem and named it Makye Ame. And later on it was chosen as the name of the restaurant which is housed in the same place where the poem was written.
So this is the ancient story behind the naming of the restaurant. However there is no authentic evidence about the reality of the story, but the place has become extremely famous in entire Tibet because of the wide spread of the story. Although the story is controversial since the lamas are not actually permitted to indulge in romantic pursuits, nevertheless it provides a fantastic background for this age old restaurant and motivates countless tourists to visit it as they come to Tibet. Notably you will also find that poem in the opening page of the menu card and you can enjoy it till your ordered cuisines arrive.
2. Exquisite Decoration and Cozy Atmosphere
Painted in deep yellow Makye Ame distinctively stands out from all the white buildings that surround it. The interior of Makye Ame distinctly reflect the traditional Tibetan architecture in every part of the place. The coaches, chairs, paintings, cutlery and everything in here bear the unmistakable touches of the Tibetan style. And that is why according to Tsering Wangchen, the owner of the place Makye Ame is not merely a restaurant but a stage where people from all over the world can experience a rich Tibetan culture.
The owner of the restaurant Wangchen who is highly passionate about the Tibetan culture has invested generously to decorate the restaurant in a way so that they look and feel absolutely Tibetan. Musical performances are also organized in the evening in which the guests can also take part actively through dancing and merrymaking.
Presently Makye Ame has its branches in Yunnan, Beijing and Chengdu. Wangchen has further plan to launch branches also in US and Nepal in future years. The goal of Wangchen is to promote the Tibetan culture and with that end in view all the materials for preparing various dishes in these hotels come only from Tibet and nowhere else.
Makye Ame remains open from 10 am to 10 pm but after the onset of the evening the crowd starts increasing to a great extent so be prepared to wait for a considerable time in the queue if you visit it in the evening. Therefore it is recommended to have enough time at hand if you plan to dine at Makye Ame.
3.Special Guest Book
Another noteworthy thing about Makye Ame is its special guest book. It is full of messages left by thousands of guests who have enjoyed the hospitality of this great restaurant. You can leave your own massage containing your name and experiences in Makye Ame in the book before leaving. And if you come back once again in this place after long years you can recall the precious memories of the last visit by finding your message in this book. You can also purchase a published version of the book if you want.
4. Attractive View of Barkhor Street
Makye Ame, being situated at the heart of Lhasa, offers a splendid view of the Barkhor Street to its guests. This is something they can get as an added benefit in addition to the mouthwatering foods and a great Tibetan hospitality. And Barkhor Street is quite a popular and busy market place in Tibet and a major tourists’ attraction at the same time.
It is also the oldest street in Lhasa. The street has witnessed many notable sociopolitical events including the celebration of the winning of the Nobel Peace Prize by 14th Dalai Lama in 1989. It features a unique combination of bustling marketplace along with a devotional circuit. The place is vibrant with the continuous commute of countless people along with their varied activities which is quite interesting to look at from the windows of Makye Ame.
Most Recommended Cuisines in Makye Ame
Initially the restaurant was run by some American women who mainly served some typical western dishes. But later on it was taken over by the present owner who revamped it thoroughly in Tibetan style. He also redesigned the menu and added an array of Tibetan dishes. The cuisines available here are mainly Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian.
As for the menu it features a medley of traditional Tibetan dishes with a touch of modern influences. Some of the notable dishes in Makye Ame include Grassland Grilled Mushroom, Yoghurt cake, Beef Slices with Radish Pickle Wrapped in Chapatti, Tashi-Delek (Beef in brown sauce with yak marrow and cheese), Chicken with Juoma (A kind of vegetable found in Tibet), Cheese Balls, Roast Beef as well as various yak meat items. The home-made yogurt is an item which is quite popular. In the afternoon you can also enjoy the milk tea which is extremely tasty in this restaurant. The menu card is printed in both Tibetan and English language so you don’t need to worry if you cannot read Tibetan words.