My First Yak Ice Cream (Beijing, Part 3)

On our last full day in Beijing, K and I did some aimless exploring around the city. Some of my favorite travel memories have occurred on such outings. And in Asia, every street feels like an entirely-new world to me. The sights, smells, and tastes are just so foreign compared to my everyday life… unlike traveling to Australia or Europe, where I think the languages, cultures, and foods seem more familiar.

Our day’s adventures brought us to the bustling street of Nanluoguxian. The same friend who recommended I try the ice cream at the Wu Yu Tai Tea Shop also told me about historic Nanluoguxian. K and I didn’t really know what to expect when we arrived, but I had a lot of fun exploring around here. It’s a pedestrian-only street, chock-full of food and jewelry stands.

It wasn’t long before K spotted something totally new: yak soft serve. We noticed a giant photo of a soft-serve ice cream cone at a food stand named “A Bite of Tibetan Flavor.” I wouldn’t have known it was yak ice cream, since nothing besides the stand’s name was written in English. But K has been to Tibet, so he knew that the ice cream would be made out of yak milk. Yaks are a source of life to the Tibetan people, who herd the animals for their milk, meat, hide, and even their poo! Since it’s treeless in the high Himalayans, Tibetans use dried yak poo to start fires. K tried yak milk, butter and cheese while in Tibet, and I knew that he didn’t like any of it. But we still couldn’t pass by the opportunity to try yak soft serve. When in Rome China, right?

The verdict? Yak is yucky! There are very few ice creams out there that I find inedible, but this was one of them. When the ice cream first hit my tongue, it tasted mild and creamy. But my taste buds were quickly overcome with that famous rancid-tangy flavor that is characteristic of yak milk. The best way I can think to describe it is sour cream or plain yogurt gone bad. As someone who can’t even handle pungent cow cheese, yak ice cream will never be my thing. While K and I were sad to admit defeat, neither one of us could handle more than a couple small licks of this cone. Still, it was fun to try something totally new to me. And of course, I think everyone should try yak ice cream and make up their own mind about it 🙂

The Stats:
A Bite of Tibetan Flavor
Nanluoguxian, or Nanluoguo Xiang
Dongcheng District, Beijing 100009, China