“Have you had it before?” the waitress at Phayul asked when I ordered the tsak sha chu rul ($3.99), or “beef and Tibet cheese soup.” The note of concern in her voice was in no small part due to this dish’s rather pungent bouquet. I nodded my assent and waited for the bowl of what smells not unlike a Tibetan tallegio to arrive.
I’ve tried it before, but never had a whole bowl all to myself. Usually I share it with guests on my food tours. The consensus from Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern to more run of the mill foodies is that tsak sha chu rul is good as part of a tasting, but they could never eat a whole bowl. I on the other hand was eager to finally consume more than just a few spoonfuls.
The tangy funk of the cheese is tempered by chilies. Bits of beef and thin strands of noodles lurk beneath the grayish broth. Stinky cheese fans will love tsak sha chu rul. Now that winter’s officially here, I’m looking forward to slurping more bowls of this heady concoction as I sit in Phayul’s second floor dining room overlooking the bustling streets of Himalayan Heights.
Phayul, 37-65 74th St, Jackson Heights, 718-424-1869