Five years ago, momos burst onto the local food scene with a bang. Although the momo makers themselves were rather quiet, their creations at Momo Ghar inside Saraga International Grocery spoke loudly. The place has garnered national attention for momos and Nepalese dishes, with coverage on Food Network. Then Food and Wine declared it one of the best restaurants in Ohio. Over time, momo’s operations expanded and moved into another market, the northern market.
That said, walls are also important (ask newspaper ace Les Nessman), and Momo Ghar now has walls of his own in his Dublin annex.
The restaurant moved last winter to the former home of Ba Sho, a Japanese restaurant in Dublin. Some of the original architectural aesthetic remnants now feature a distinct Nepali accent. The tone is set with a collection of Tibetan prayer wheels, these are large cylinders that contain rolls of printed prayers; spinning them is a bit like speed reading. It is an interactive and meditative tool that works like art. It gives the impression that the momos are at home.
To the unfamiliar (it may have been a few years after all), a momo is a dumpling. And while dumplings are a part of many cultures, momos have a charm of their own. Momo Ghar’s peculiar pockets begin with an achingly tender, hand-rolled shell that, despite its tenderness, manages to competently hold its precious fillings and remain firmly intact. Jhol Momo ($11.95) is therefore a good starting point. It includes momos, wrapped like hawker bags around a garnish of minced chicken accented with garlic and served with a sea of brothy sauce. The reddish sauce has a slight hint that is pleasing to the palate, while the meatball kind is usually associated with comfort, here it is associated with a little burn that makes it unusually interesting.
Next on the hit list: sautéed momos. For this we have the Aluminum Momos ($11.95), this time filled with potatoy goodness. The shells retain their aching tenderness, even when caramelized and crispy.
And there are more momos. There are pork and vegetable filling options in fried or gravy formats. At the same time, there are other options worth exploring. Example : Tsel Gyathuk Ngopa. It is a noodle-based dish that achieves a pleasantly grilled seared finish. In the mix are lightly sautéed vegetables (including broccoli, spinach, carrots and onions). It offers a nice balance of vegetables and noodles.
the Chicken Choila Whole ($14.95) is more of a starter, but it does give diners the chance to try multiple Nepalese treats in one order, all chilled. So four things: Chicken Choila, which is spicy marinated chicken; Alu Dum, an aromatic Nepalese potato salad; Bodi, a dish that is, for better or worse, defined by its black-eyed peas, and finally Chiura, which are flattened grains of rice. The Chiura is still oddly better and more addictive than it has any right to be. Variety makes collecting fun.
At the moment, Momo Ghar’s Dublin is open for lunch and dinner on weekends. On weekdays, it opens at 5 p.m. (you can still grab lunch at the North Market, though). You’ll find it at 2800 Festival Lane.
All photos by Susan Post