So Fresh and So Clean

FitMania adds to its meal prep services with Tibet Café sit-down eatery

The beef momo at Tibet Café satisfies without being over-salted or greasy. (Alex De Vore)

The meal prep realm is sort of mystifying for people who don’t dive deep into the concept of fitness, but local trainer and nutritionist Palden Digkhang has built a name providing just such services. Those simply looking for a bite to eat, however, should know Digkhang recently expanded his fitness-based meal prep business FitMania with a broader menu of dishes available for dine-in and take-out, and they all adhere to the same philosophy as the prepped dishes; namely, he serves fresh, clean food for the health conscious that also works for the plain old hungry throngs.

And so it came to pass that I found myself in Tibet Café (720 St. Michael’s Drive Ste. F, (505) 227-5400) one recent evening poring over Digkhang’s menu with a companion in tow. Full disclosure? Because Digkhang is a certified trainer and nutritionist, I didn’t expect much beyond bland and boring. By the time I left, however, I considered myself a convert, though there are, of course, caveats.

At first blush, Tibet Café seems lacking in ambiance. Perhaps this has something to do with the operating hours of noon-7 pm Monday through Saturday (it closes at 6 pm on Sundays), but it’s not always easy to do dinner when the sun’s still up—y’know, emotionally speaking. Beyond that, my companion and I were the only customers around at the time, and we agreed that Tibet Café doesn’t have much of an environmental identity. Comfort is king in restaurants, and a little bit of decoration or consideration can go a long way. At Tibet Café, you’ll find a small handful of four-top tables near cold cases brimming with prepped meals, and a number of shelves lining the walls stocked with protein powder and microwaves. That latter item surely plays a role in the FitMania meal prep side of the business, but isn’t exactly the sort of thing one wants to see when they’re gearing up for a sit-down dinner.

Still, when Digkhang appeared to bring us drinks, he was obviously super-fit, so maybe he knows something we don’t. At any rate, the microwaves didn’t come into play during our meal, for which we were thankful. Instead, we discovered one of my favorite treasures of the culinary world—the unassuming hole in the wall that serves up killer dishes with very little preamble.

Tibet Café's menu proved a no-nonsense affair across six entrees, including beef, chicken or veggie momo (dumplings, basically); veggie- or meat-fried noodle and rice dishes; beef, chicken, egg or tofu thupka (a Tibetan soup); and the shapta combo with beef, chicken or rice tingmo (a steamed bread/bun type item). Ordering the beef momo ($12.99-$14.99) was a no-brainer as it came with a beef bone soup to start, and since we’d doubled down on beef straight away, we ordered the veggie-fried noodles and veggie-fried rice to share ($11.99 and $10.99 respectively). The soups came immediately and provided a strange comfort food vibe. You’d think hot soup on a hot day would be a nightmare, but Digkhang clearly knows his way around a simple soup done well.

Pro tip? It’s worth the extra $2 to get the momo fried. Each order clocks in at eight pieces, which is, frankly, generous and more than enough to stand as a meal on its own, especially with the soup; think a breadier and almost spongier type of dumpling than you might get at a Chinese restaurant, only with the added bonus of crispy edges from the frying. The beef inside was cooked to a satisfying medium and brimming with clean, non-greasy flavor—and that’s actually the true excellence of Tibet Café. Like our main momo dish, the noodles and the rice were both fried, yet they tasted so fresh and clean. At first, it seemed under-seasoned, but without a mountainous amount of added salt, the earthy flavors of carrots and borderline richness of the peas began to unfurl in a way that felt almost similar to tasting something for the first time in a long while. Salt, while glorious, can mask true flavors when wielded without care. Digkhang, however—and likely because he’s a trainer and nutritionist—gave us what our bodies wanted and needed without the misery of salt bloat. In fact, we both felt great all night and into the following day.

Before we left, we split an order of rice pudding ($5.99). While the dusting of cinnamon and crushed pistachios did their best, this dessert was ultimately underwhelming. Tibet Café also offers cheesecake and boba—not that boba constitutes a dessert per se, but it’s certainly a fun treat from time to time and easy for takeout. In fact, Tibet Café might best be thought of as a takeout spot. I’ll look forward to seeing how it evolves in the coming months, but I sincerely can’t remember the last time I ate at a restaurant without feeling at least a little bloaty in the hours (or sometimes days) that followed. Actually, maybe it would be wise to look into Digkhang’s meal prep services, because it turns out eating healthy is good for you. Who knew?

Tibet Café 720 St. Michael’s Drive Ste. F, (505) 227-5400

+Clean and tasty without massive amounts of salt

-Interior could use some gussying up


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