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Tibet's first Western restaurant makes National Day international

Updated: 2013-10-08 10:36
( English.news.cn)

How does it feel to grab a bite of traditional Western food during China's National Day holiday in Tibet? Foreign visitors and local Tibetans may have different answers.

"The steak served here tastes just like home," said U.S. visitor Gabe Miller after eating at Dunya, Lhasa's first Western restaurant.

Meanwhile, 32-year-old local Tibetan diner Sonam Tashi said of his experience, "It's our mother country's birthday -- the unique combination of Western cuisine and China's patriotic flavor makes me feel very special."

Their comments point to the increasing international influences upon Tibet and how these play out around National Day in a lively coming-together of cultures, especially in places like Dunya, just a few minutes' walk from the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple.

Although Dunya first opened in 1999, hungry folk of all nationalities have had more reason to rush there lately as this is a watershed year for the business. Its Dutch owner, Rene Schrama, is considering going back to the Netherlands and giving more responsibility to local staff in running the restaurant.

The word Dunya means "the world" in a dozen languages such as Arabic, Turkish, Hindi, Malay and Uzbek, and the restaurant itself is run by Schrama as well as people from China and the United States -- a truly international team.

"Besides traditional Western dishes, we have also introduced Nepalese and Indian food," Schrama explained, while also recommending Dunya's signature "yak meat burger" and "fried yak meat momo" to his guests.

"In addition to more guests from Western countries, we are happy to serve an increasing number of local Tibetans. We offer discounts on some dishes for National Day, and all the seats have been booked up during the Golden Week of the National Day holiday," added the Dutchman, who also runs a hotel and a travel agency in Lhasa with his wife.

Food and guests are not the only blends of culture that take place in Dunya, as no one could overlook its unique interior decoration featuring both Tibetan painted scrolls and Western murals.

Mr. and Mrs. Schrama have lived in Tibet for 14 years, and their initial desire to create a place that was both Tibetan and "home" has been realized. It is an apt time for them to plan a return home as their kids are old enough to attend school.

However, they promise "the balcony of Dunya will continue to witness the changes that happen to the people of this city."

"Dunya has grown up as the city has developed -- welcoming friends from all over the world and hitting the recommendation list of travel guidebooks," according to Tsewang, a Tibetan lady who has been working in the restaurant for over a decade.

"I was born in a remote village and have never learned how to read and write, but people here are all good teachers," said Tsewang, who now speaks fluent English.

Mr. and Mrs. Schrama already return to their home country every winter as it is the tourist off-season in Tibet, and they leave the restaurant to Tsewang.

"No one would like to close Dunya -- even in winter, and they place their full trust in me," she said.

Tibet's first Western restaurant makes National Day international

Tibet's first Western restaurant makes National Day international

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