What would you choose when you are in Mongolia after not drinking a good strong taste of fresh espresso for over a week? Would you choose a local restaurant serving local food and Mongolian instant coffee or a western-style café serving espresso and sandwiches?
We chose a local restaurant. Why?
Hanging out where the locals go to is the best way to learn more about their food and coffee culture. We traveled a long way to one of the most authentic Asian cities in the world and we only had six days in Mongolia. Added to that we were not in the mood for overpriced coffee.
Our local guide, Amran was about to send us to Café Amsterdam, Ulaan Bataar’s well-known breakfast and coffee place for tourists. We intervened and asked for a local experience.
Cafe 999 in the city center served Mongolian Tsuivan noodles and instant coffee for breakfast at a very affordable price. Mongolians love their Suutei-tsai or milk tea. Coffee is not popular in the local restaurant. We had our noodles and hot drink at the crack of dawn after arriving by train from Irkutsk. One heavy-set man in black business suit was sleeping on his seat with an empty plate and mug on the table. Never once did his head droop.
Mongolian 3-in-1 coffee mix is mild and sweet – nothing like the Nescafe instant coffee. It has lots of cream powder and sugar.
As always we had to put things in perspective that was- we travel to eat and drink like a local.
We did check out Café Amsterdam while visiting the State Department store on Peace Avenue, the main thoroughfare of Ulaan Bataar (UB). It was located on the second floor where most guests were tourists.
In recent years more and more coffee shops are opening in Ulaan Bataar, the capital city of Mongolia. The American Coffee Bean and the Korean Café Benne are some of the international chain stores in the city where almost 60% of the population of Mongolia live.