Jackson Heights Tibetan chef opens a second and larger restaurant in Sunnyside

By Bill Parry

The world-class chef behind a popular Jackson Heights Tibetan restaurant has opened a second, much larger eatery in Sunnyside.

Tenzen Tsering, who opened GangJong Kitchen on Roosevelt Avenue three years ago, launched Punda Tibetan Restaurant at 39-35 47th Ave. last weekend.

“I want to make Sunnyside happier and healthier,” Tsering said. “I am a healer. Through my training as a nutritionist and dietician I can make people healthier through their diet.”

He pointed out that his space in Jackson Heights was too small and the kitchen too limited to do the type of cooking that he became famous for during 25 years of globe-trotting.

Tsering was born in Tibet and raised in India.

“I worked all over Asia and then France, Poland and Russia before coming to Queens to be with my wife and son,” he said.

Jeff Orlick, an authority on food and culture in Queens who runs popular restaurant tours, became a fan and friend of Tsering when he opened in Jackson Heights.

“It was almost comical watching him in GangJong,” Orlick said. “He was working in this tiny place with just two burners on the stove. In my view, he is the most respected Tibetan chef in Queens. People regard him so much because he was an executive chef in India, and other locations all over the world. This new place, Punda, is such a tremendous outlet for his skills. Now he has all the tools he needs.”

Tsering was doing a site survey when he came across the former Wild Turkey Restaurant that went out of business in March.

“This place was lying here empty,” he said. “It has a full size chef’s kitchen and it has gas lines. There are no gas lines in GangJong. Now I can steam, fry and bake.”

He said momos are the most popular item on his menu: Tibetan style dumplings stuffed with chicken, beef or vegetables that are either steamed, fried or pan-fried. Tsering also prepares dishes with Thai, Chinese and Indian influences.

“He is tremendously talented, creative and has been trained as well as taught in many different cuisines,” Orlick said. “He prefers to cook healthy foods, but I don’t want people to think that he’s making ‘health food” because it doesn’t taste like that at all. I do feel great afterwards, but there’s no sacrifice at all in flavors when he cooks. It’s just clean overall.”

Tsering will cook at Punda full time, seven nights a week. He hired and trained a new chef at GangJong.

“I’m very excited to see what happens there and I hope he gets a lot of business,” Orlick said. “The more business he gets, the more he’s going to be able to do there.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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