A bit of Tibetan cuisine, a dash of Japanese and a sprinkle of Indian and you’ll discover Mandala, a “tickle your taste buds” restaurant founded by Dolkar Tso.
Dolkar, who emigrated to LA from Tibet in 1997, eventually winged her way north and settled in Ojai. She and her husband soon found employment at the Ojai Inn & Spa, where she worked in the banquet department, but it wasn’t until her neighbors, Linda and Jon Lambert tasted her food and encouraged her to feed “the masses,” that she started cooking in earnest. Having worked in her father’s restaurant in Tibet, cooking was in her DNA. Since her boys were young and she needed to be home as much as possible, she started small by preparing meals in her own kitchen for her neighbors. Word spread, and every week Dolkar would deliver those meals holding the hand of her eldest child, with her toddler in her backpack.
With her boys in high school, it was time for her to expand, and when the right location for a restaurant presented itself, Mandala was born.
The menu is diverse (well, it is Tibetan, Japanese and Indian), but a favorite of mine is the Tibetan beef or chicken momo (a sort of Tibetan version of dim sum) served with a spicy sauce. Or, if you prefer, dip them in the ponzu sauce, a citrus, lime soy mixture. Then there’s Tibetan chicken chow mein noodles that happily noodles your taste buds, and egg rolls reminiscent of Vietnamese spring rolls, that are wonderfully crispy on the outside and cooked perfectly on the inside. Sushi Chef Wenceslao whips up savory California rolls and other sushi delights. Sauces vary with each dish. There’s even a kids’ menu that includes ice cream for dessert. And for the grown-ups, a selection of sake, wine and beer.
As you taste your way through Taste of Ojai, give your taste buds a tickle at Mandala’s table.
By: Ilona Saari
11400 N. Ventura Ave.
Ojai, Calif. 93023