Hazara is tucked away behind the Wrestling Palace off the busy Peace Avenue. It is one of Ulaanbaatar’s longest-standing restaurants and serves authentic North Indian cuisine, which is perfect for those craving a spicy kick to their meal. Try the popular chicken murgh malai, succulent and creamy chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices, or signature dish raan e hazara, a leg of lamb marinated overnight with bay leaves, cardamom and other Indian spices. The restaurant décor is warm and simple, the ground and mezzanine floor provide plenty of space for diners, while wooden and brass tables and seating separated by bright wall hangings give meals at Hazara an intimate feel.
Named after the 13th century capital city of the Mongol Empire, Khara Khorum offers guests a fine dining experience in modern, stylish surroundings. One of five restaurants in the Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace, Khara Khorum offers a balanced menu featuring a number of traditional Mongolian dishes like tsuivan, a stew of noodles, vegetables and meat, and the steamed dumpling dish buuz. In fact, Khara Khorum is renowned for serving some of the best khuushuur, a pan-fried dumpling traditionally filled with minced lamb, in the capital. Vegetarian versions of Mongolian dishes are available, as are a number of European staples.
When it opened in 2008, Luna Blanca was only the second vegan restaurant in all of Mongolia, but today it is one of around 25 Mongolian restaurants catering specifically to the vegan diet. Luna Blanca is the labor of love of co-owners Altanzaya and Ariunaa, who see it as a social enterprise to encourage healthier diets in Mongolia, meaning that all profits from the restaurant go back into promoting healthy food. The cozy, café-style venue serves up a number of nutritious, tasty and reasonably priced dishes such as the rainbow miso soup, miso broth with fresh tofu, seaweed, mushroom, radish and carrots; and the Luna Blanca Mongol combo plate, featuring vegetarian versions of traditional bansh, buuz and khuushuur dumplings. A range of refreshing teas and healthy juices are also available.
The first and only Sri Lankan restaurant and tea bar in Mongolia, Ceylonta opened with the purpose of introducing the Sri Lankan cuisine, renowned for its liberal use of herbs and spices, to the country. The menu at Ceylonta has evolved since they first opened, now offering a more refined and focused selection of Sri Lankan flavors – and a better variety, as the menu changes five times a week. Created by Sri Lankan-born chefs and with ingredients flown in straight from the island nation, it features authentic dishes including Sri Lankan malu curry (a fish curry made with onion and tomato and flavored with garlic, ginger and goraka) and batu moju, an eggplant-based dish mixed with onions, tomato, garlic, Maldives fish and coconut milk. Those with a sweet tooth should try the quintessentially Sri Lankan dessert watalappam, a pudding prepared with coconut honey and jaggery sugar. Ceylonta also has over 60 varieties of Ceylon tea and tea gift packages are available for purchase.
Azzurro is a luxury Mediterranean restaurant situated at the very top of the Monnis Tower, a prime location offering stunning panoramic views of Ulaanbaatar. Azzurro, meaning ‘blue’ in Italian, features a stylish yet comfortable lounge area and is elegantly decorated in white marble with wooden walls and blue-tinted windows to reflect the restaurant’s name. Italian-born executive chef Alberto Boccelli has created a menu of delicious dishes combining the traditional Mediterranean flavours of Italy, Spain and southern France. Treat your taste buds to the tantalising agnello in crosta estiva, a lemon and parsley-crusted rack of lamb with a potato and mushroom cake and mustard jus, or the mouth watering polpo in insalata, a salad of octopus and prawns with a lemon dressing.
A family-run restaurant serving Northern Indian cuisine, Namaste serves an entirely Halal menu. A team of Indian chefs prepare classic North Indian dishes such as the kalami tawa beef, succulent chunks of beef cooked in a tandoor oven and roasted on a griddle pan; and the hariyali chicken, a Punjabi interpretation of chicken tikka made with mint and coriander. The elegantly decorated restaurant, featuring heavy, dark, wooden seating and rich, red walls has attracted a loyal clientèle since its opening.
Altai Mongolian Grill
Since opening its original branch in 2006, Altai Mongolian Grill has expanded into a chain of six restaurants, three of which are located in Ulaanbaatar with the other three restaurants spread across the globe in Russia, China and the USA. The Altai Mongolian Grill introduces an innovative way of dining. Rather than a set menu, guests create their own meal according to their individual preferences from a number of vegetables, meats, noodles, seasoning and sauces before the skilled Altai chefs cook the meal. While menus vary from location to location, the Bimex Holding Building branch features a varied range of ingredients for guests to mix and match including beef, mutton, horse meat and soy chunks which can be cooked in sauces including Asian ginger root and Korean bulgogi.
Turning Point Café
A popular meeting place for Ulaanbaatar’s hip, young crowd and the capital’s expat community, the Turning Point Café is a cosmopolitan yet cozy restaurant, bar and contemporary jazz venue. The modern premises are decorated in a sophisticated and understated fashion, with white washed brick walls, an island bar, wooden flooring and a bespoke jazz-themed mural painting by Portuguese artist Paulo Buchinho adorning one wall. The food is largely European in flavor with a range of fresh salads, tasty panini and warming soups on offer. The Turning Point Café also serves delicious desserts, with its green apple and cinnamon crêpe, and an array of impressive cocktails. Outside the café is a picturesque fountain, so grab a window seat and take in the view while listening to one of the café’s regular jazz gigs.
Located on the fourth floor of the recently built and impressive BlueMon Centre in Ulaanbaatar’s main business area, the Buffalo Grill specializes in Mongolian grilled meat dishes, where meat is grilled over an open charcoal fire giving it a succulent, smoky flavor. The extensive menu features a range of meat and vegetable-based dishes including beef bibenbab (a Korean rice-based dish), stir-fried vegetables and grilled spicy chicken. Guests looking for a more hands-on approach to their meal can take advantage of a unique feature of the restaurant – each table at Buffalo Grill features its own charcoal frying grill, with built in smoke reduction, which allows guests to self-cook their food in a communal picnic ambience.
Grand Khan Irish Pub
They say wherever you go in the world, you’re bound to come across an Irish pub, and Ulaanbaatar is no different. The Grand Khan Irish Pub is the perfect destination for diners looking for a relaxed, casual environment in which to enjoy some wholesome pub grub. Traditional homely dishes reminiscent of the Emerald Isle, such as Irish stew and Irish-style lamb shanks, are available alongside a range of sandwiches, soups and pizzas. Those with a more adventurous palate can try Asian dishes including tagturitan soup, a spicy chicken and potato-based Korean stew, or crispy pork belly with noodles. Irish and Mongolian beers are available and the pub features outdoor covered seating, where guests can enjoy a drink and snack while taking in the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets.