Namgyal Tennam, Chef & Owner, Namgyal Momo Tibetian Buffet & Tea House

  • 7 Oct 2020 8:10 PM
Namgyal Tennam, Chef & Owner, Namgyal Momo Tibetian Buffet & Tea House
The owner of Budapest’s only authentic Tibetan canteen is one of only five folks from Tibet living in Hungary.

His buffet style eatery in downtown Budapest offers original Tibetan meat and vegetarian dishes, as well as 'butter tea' every day of the week. Prices and portion sizes are on the friendly side, the atmosphere is relaxed, and service comes with a cheerful smile.

Mr. Tennam, a renowned opera singer in Tibet, came to Hungary as a political refugee. His father was a chef and so Namgyal learn to cook at an early age, as he helped his dad cook at the Tibetan opera company.

At first Namgyal lived here at the Debrecen Refugee Camp for well over a year, where he learned Hungarian fluently. Afterwards he moved to Budapest to work odd jobs on construction sites, as a gardener, then at a few restaurants before finally opening his own place at Bakáts tér.

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
On August 20th in 2005, the Debrecen Flower Carnival was being held, which I liked very much. I came due to Chinese pressure in my motherland, Hungary accepted me as a refugee.

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
No, but I could live anywhere where there is peace and kind people.

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
The special language. I spoke some English when I arrived, as Tibetans’ think that outside Tibet everybody speaks English.  

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
It is difficult for folks to get out from Tibet, so I do not have friends coming here to visit unfortunately.

5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
Interestingly there are lots of similar dishes to ones I know from back home, like the lángos, and goulash soup, I really like those, they are the best for me.

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
Butter - I wil tell you why later... ;)

7.What is your favourite Hungarian word?
Szívem. I call my wife Szívem!

8. What do you miss most from home?
The language. As there are only five Tibetans in Hungary, and we all have a busy life, I don't get to speak in my mother language much. But I'm always listening to Tibetian music.

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I really think that with an education one can get much further than otherwise. In Tibet, boys would study and become monks because that is considered to be a good life. Generally speaking, if you study well, and there is peace, you can have everything you need.

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
There is no such thing as ‘never' for me. I honestly think that no one should look down at any type of the job, since the most important thing is for one to have something to do that makes them feel useful.

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
Hajdúszoboszló. We have been going there with my family in Hungary every year for the last eight years.

12. Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
We plan to spend it in Hungary again.

13. Please tell us about how you started cooking in Hungary.
At first I only cooked one meal each day, a spicy szürkemarha (grey cattle) dish. Customers kept coming in from the nearby office buildings for that, and they kept asking for different dishes, so I expanded my menu. I love cooking authentic Tibetan food.  

14. What is your favourite dish to share with friends?
Momo, a small Tibetan pastry filled with either vegetables or meat.

15. Which type is your favourite tea?
A Tibetan tea with butter - made with black tea, salt, butter and milk. Every day I prepare three litres in the morning at 4am, and by 3pm in the afternoon is all gone!

16. Book or movie?

17. Morning person or night person?
Morning. I have to wake up early to prepare the ingredients for all the meals served at the buffet each day.

18. Which achievement in your life are you most pleased about?
My restaurant. 

19. Buda or Pest side?
Both, as I have been working in Pest for the last fifteen years, and live in Buda for the past nine years.

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
I do not have one as such, but I could say ‘be grateful for everything, at all times’. I thank Hungarians from the bottom of my hear that they accepted me and helped me when I most needed.

Namgyal Momo Tibetian Buffet & Tea House
(Namgyal Momo tibeti étkezde és teázó)
Budapest 1092, Bakáts tér 9.

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