Posted by Selena Travel / 09 26, 2023
If you are planning a trip to Mongolia, you must be looking forward to having adventures in the Gobi Desert, exploring ancient history at the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue Complex, and observing traditional Mongolian customs, like eagle hunting.
But, while you are traveling in this delightful country bordered by China and Russia, do not skimp out on your meals!
Food can be just as much of a cultural experience as going to a museum or taking an adventure tour in the countryside.
It gives you a taste of ethnic cuisine and allows you the opportunity to interact with the local community.
Knowing what food you need to try in Mongolia is tough if you’ve never visited the country, so, we have done all the taste testing for you. Below is a list of the food you need to try in Mongolia!
As far as food you need to try in Mongolia goes, this is one of the top dishes. Boodog is a traditional Mongolian barbecue, with origins in the Genghis Khan era and carried through the centuries by the nomadic lifestyle.
A goat or a marmot is typically used for this meal, and it is prepared by stuffing the meat, along with hot stones and vegetables, back into the animal carcass.
While the stones work their magic on the inside, a fire or torch roasts it from the outside.
As a well known Mongolian dish, boodog can be found throughout the country. For a wholesome experience, you can stay at a traditional Mongolian ger camp and order a dish of boodog while there.
You will get to experience authentic Mongolian housing while dining on a local meal. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Not only is there food you need to try in Mongolia, but drinks too. Airag is a staple of the Mongolian way of life, and this beverage can be found at the Naadam Festivals over the summer.
Horses are very important in Mongolian culture, so it’s fitting that airag is prepared from fermented mare milk. It is a must taste while you are visiting Mongolia.
To try a taste of airag yourself, first, make sure that you’re traveling to Mongolia during the summer months.
Like we said, it’s popular at the Naadam Festival, so you should really try to arrange your trip to attend this national event.
You will get to enjoy a cultural festival as well as authentic food and drink. If not, a simple summer vacation will do, and you should be able to order airag at most places.
Reindeer Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese
As we saw with the airag, dairy products are definitely some of the food you need to try in Mongolia.
In addition to meat, the country is known for its yogurts, cheeses, and more. Perhaps the best way to experience the most authentic of Mongolian dairy items is to try a taste of reindeer milk, yogurt, or cheese on your visit.
Up north in the Khuvsgul region of the country live the Dukha people, who are some of the last nomadic reindeer herders in the world.
The Dukha treat their reindeer like family and, as such, rarely slaughter them for meat. Instead, they consume reindeer milk and make yogurt and cheese.
Visiting them and trying some reindeer dairy products is one of the most authentic farm to table experiences you could ever have.
To visit the reindeer herders, you’ll have to arrange travel from Ulaanbaatar to the Khuvsgul region.
You can either fly or take a bus to Murun, and then travel via van to Tsagaan Nuur village, where the Dukha people live. Keep in mind though, the reindeer herders are nomadic. And, as you won’t be dining in a restaurant, please be respectful of the locals’ privacy.
Keeping with the dairy theme, suutei tsai is another popular Mongolian beverage, and its name translates to “tea with milk.”
There are several variations of how it's made, but the basics include water, milk, tea leaves, and salt.
A touch of butter or fat can be used to spruce up the taste. Suutei tsai is consumed at almost every meal, and it is a popular drink to welcome guests into one’s home.
There’s not really a best time or preferred region of the country in which to try suutei tsai. You can order it at almost every restaurant, and, as a traditional Mongolian beverage, it’s likely to also be available at any ger camps you might be staying at.
No matter where you are in Mongolia and when you’re traveling, suutei tsai is likely to be on the menu.
This is one of the most popular foods you need to try in Mongolia. Buuz is a Mongolian steamed dumpling, prepared with meat like mutton or beef. Vegetables, like onion, can also be added to the mixture.
If you’re hoping to take a bite of this traditional Mongolian dish, head out to pretty much any restaurant in Ulaanbaatar. Buuz is common at many meals on a Mongolian dinner table.
And while it is available all year, buuz is typically a traditional course during Tsagaan Sar, or the Mongolian New Year.
Taking place in February, Tsagaan Sar is a great time to try some buuz and immerse yourself in a significant national holiday.
Meat and dairy are the favorite bases for several popular Mongolian dishes and beverages. But, there is one other drink we should talk about: vodka!
Vodka is the chosen liquor of Mongolia. The brand Chinggis, named for Genghis Khan, makes up a large portion of Mongolia’s vodka sales.
So, whether you are out having dinner at a restaurant in Ulaanbaatar or at a traditional ger camp, be sure to order a round of Chinggis to wash down your meal.
While you are traveling in Mongolia, splurge on your food as much as you do on your tours and other experiences.
The food you need to try in Mongolia is scrumptious, unique, and will leave you ready to take on more adventures. Happy dining!