It’s Saturday night time and each snooker desk is taken on the Bhutanese pool corridor in Woodside, Queens. The avid gamers are all males, maximum with roots within the Land of the Thunder Dragon, the younger ones lanky in pale rock tees and monitor pants, their elders slouching in bomber jackets and shiny white kicks. They rack the purple balls, watch and wait.
Pema Gyeltshen, from Mongar in jap Bhutan, opened Weekender Billiard within the fall of 2014 along with his cousin Lhendup Zangmo and her husband, Jamyang Tsultrim, a local of Tibet. The identify at the awning is outlined in English and Tibetan — no longer Dzongkha, Bhutan’s nationwide language, despite the fact that they proportion the similar script. (This can be as a result of Tibetan immigrants in Queens outnumber Bhutanese, or as a result of, as Mr. Gyeltshen defined, there’s no phrase for “weekender” in Dzongkha.)
The chef, Norbu Gyeltshen (no relation), was once born in Tibet and grew up in Bhutan. Pema Gyeltshen, too, can hint his ancestry to Tibet, centuries again. “We’re all blended up,” he mentioned. In a nook, portraits of the Dalai Lama and the astonishingly gorgeous king and queen of Bhutan, flanked by means of their international locations’ flags, tilt over a huddle of shiny black tables.
Beneath their gaze, the waiter brings plates of ema datse, the Bhutanese day-to-day meal. That is regularly described as soup, stew or curry, none of which appear to suit its texture right here: contemporary inexperienced chiles, break up and nonetheless armed with seeds, below a sheen of mollifyingly delicate cheese.
The elements may recommend some cross-cultural kinship with Tex-Mex chile con queso. However in ema datse the chiles are dominant, meaty strips supposed to be liked as each vegetable and firestarter. At Weekender, they’re Italian lengthy hots, at all times a bet, erratic in warmth; some are…