Tibet is the highest region on earth, and is referred to by many different names, including gangchen, which means land of snow. That’s part of the reason one of the owners, Nyima Choegak, moved to Minneapolis. He likes the cold weather. Choegak is originally from Tibet, but because of politics he decided to move to India, then to Seattle, and he ended up in Minneapolis in 2002.

Gangchen serves Asian fusion cuisine including Tibetan, Vietnamese, Thai and Mongolian foods. So it’s a great place to go if you’re looking to try foods from different countries.

When Choegak came to Minneapolis he worked as a delivery person transferring blood and other items from hospital to hospital, but he decided he wanted to start his own business with a friend from Tibet, who was also living in Minneapolis.

Every time Choegak pictured opening a business, he thought of opening a restaurant. Choegak wanted to open a restaurant that was affordable to people in the Loring Park neighborhood.

At Gangchen, he works as a waiter, cook and bartender, and he said it is important to do all of the restaurant’s jobs. Each night starting at 10 p.m. there’s a DJ at Gangchen; on weekends the DJ plays international music. Happy hour is from 4–7 p.m. and 10 p.m.­–close. Specials include two-for-one beers and half off glasses of wine.

Gangchen was the first restaurant Choegak opened with his friend Rabak Rabak, but they are opening another restaurant, Great Sun Buffet and Bar, at the old India House location, 1400 Nicollet Ave. Great Sun will feature an Indian buffet and a Chinese buffet, with a chef specializing in each cuisine. Choegak said there isn’t another Eat Street restaurant that combines the two types of food.

He picked the location because he wanted to be near Loring Park and the heart of Downtown.

Gangchen basics

Opened: July 7, 2007; Choegak waited to open until 07-07-07 because he thought it was a lucky day.
Asian fusion
Prices: Entrees are $7­–$12
Hours: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday–Saturday and Sundays 2 p.m.–2 a.m.
Address: 1833 Nicollet Ave. S.
Phone: 872-8663


Gangchen’s momo, which is a traditional Tibetan dumpling, is described by customers as healthy and delicious, Choegak said. Inside the dumplings are beef and vegetables, including cabbage, carrots and onions. It’s been served since Gangchen first opened. It’s made fresh to order and takes about 20 minutes to prepare, Choegak said. The steamed dish is usually served during times of celebration in Tibet, Choegak said. The meal also comes with a side salad, which definitely has a kick to it. If you’re looking for a traditional meal, momo is a fabulous and filling choice.

What does Eat Street mean to you?

Choegak chose his location for Gangchen so that he could become a part of Eat Street. To him, Eat Street is a place in the neighborhood where people can find a lot of restaurants, and it’s a great community to serve, he said.