Review: MoMo Dumplings, Food of the Himalayas
I just had lunch this week at a new restaurant in Meridian near my office called MoMo: Food of the Himalayas. They’ve been open for a little over a month, and this was the first chance I’ve had to give them a try. I must admit, I was a little puzzled at what the food of the Himalayas would actually be, as that is not a cuisine description we often hear. If you find yourself feeling the same way, let me give you a little background on the subject that I couldn’t resist researching.
If your geography is a little rusty, the Himalayan mountains divide India and China, with smaller nations such as Nepal and Tibet actually in the mountain range. They are the tallest mountain range in the world, and have over 100 mountains over 23,000 feet high, including Mt. Everest at over 29,000 feet high. They are very long, and extend beyond the East/West borders of India. So, food of the Himalayas is a pretty broad description which could include Southern Chinese, Northern Indian, Tibetan, Nepalese, and other cuisines. But MoMo restaurant’s focus is that of Nepal’s.
What is a Momo Dumpling
As a food junky, self-proclaimed expert, and blogger, I’m embarrassed that I was not familiar with Momos, and that I had to do a little research to learn what they are. A Momo is a dumpling, very similar to Chinese steamed dumplings, such as Shao Mai or Jiaozi (pot stickers). If that doesn’t mean anything to you, these are all dumplings made out of a wheat flour dough which is rolled around a meat and/or vegetable filling. The dumplings are steamed, which makes the dough soft, chewy, and a bit sticky and/or slimy. Steamed dumplings like this are delicious, and momos are no exception.
Momos are native to Nepal and Tibet, and were first introduced there from China. But where Chinese dumplings typically consist of meat, ginger, scallions, mushrooms, and chilies, momos are comprised of the flavors and ingredients of Northern India. Cabbage, potatoes, lamb, turmeric, mustard, fenugreek, cinnamon, and the like are mixed together and stuffed inside the dumpling dough. They are eaten all over Nepal, and are the most common fast food there (according to Wikipedia).
Momos also differ from Chinese dumplings in that rather than a soy based sauce, they are traditionally served with a spicy tomato and chili sauce. Any Chinese dumping lover who also appreciates Indian cuisine will likely fall in love with momos and want to eat them regularly.
MoMo Restaurant in Meridian, Idaho
MoMo’s is located across from St. Luke’s Hospital right next door to Buffalo Wild Wings and Smashburger, and is owned by a married couple of Nepalese decent. They are very friendly and proud of their new restaurant. Don’t be surprised if they greet you with huge smiles. It is small, but adequate for a fair lunch crowd, is very clean, and has some very brightly colored chairs that add a bit of eclectic charm to the place. The kitchen is directly behind the counter, and you can see the stove full of steamers and pots cooking the tasty treats you’re about to order. I love that.
MoMo’s actually started as a food cart that made its appearance regularly at the Saturday Farmer’s market. It became so popular that the owners felt they needed a brick and mortar facility to keep up with demand, and expand to new clients as well. What a great story. I may just have to follow suite one of these days.
MoMo’s menu is not extensive, but I’m not sure that it has to be. This is a dumpling shop, and they stick to what they know and are good at. They offer dumpling plates with your choice of three varieties of dumplings, along with several side dishes to order ala carte or with your dumpling plate (1 included in the plate combo of 10 dumplings). They also offer several rice bowls (consisting of saffron rice, dumplings, sides, and black eyed peas), a Curry Chicken Salad, and deep fried treats (samosas and dumplings). I just wish that I would have researched this dumpling concept before I visited so that I would have been better prepared for the Indian flavor experience I was about to undertake. But mentally ready or not, I found MoMo’s to be a tasty and satisfying experience.
Boise Restaurant MoMo Dumplings Food Review
I wanted to savor my dumpling experience, so I ate my side dish first. MoMo’s has several sides to choose from, but their Cauliflower and Soy caught my attention. It was very good. It was cooked in a mild Indian curry type sauce. The soy chunks were actually enjoyable. They were soy cakes, which are kind of like a really firm fried tofu. There were tomatoes to add a subtle sweetness, and onions to keep things real. It was a good flavor combination, but wasn’t anything rock your world amazing. Does it really have to be though?
After greedily slurping up the last of the cauliflower braising sauce, I turned my attention to the beautiful dumplings in front of me. I wasn’t sure what I was about to experience, but I was excited to try them. I ordered a mix of all three of their momo offerings: vegetable, turkey, and pork.
The vegetable momo was very nice, and turned out to be my favorite of the three. The potato in it somehow just seemed to work the best with the Indian type spice mixture. The turkey momo was good, made with ground turkey. It had a slight sweetness to it that I didn’t find with the vegetable momo. And even though it had a nice Indian spice flavor to it, the pork was better than the turkey. The pork just had a better flavor from the meat. The dumpling dough was very nice on all three, and had a great chew to it. However, the spices and filling mixture of cabbage, onions, scallions, and cilantro were identical between all of them. The only thing that seemed to change was the one main ingredient of turkey, pork, or potato. This was a little disappointing for me from a cooks perspective. Though each was perfectly delicious as is on its own, when mixed with the other dumplings, there wasn’t any variety of flavors. If I was to give MoMo any negative marks, it would be because of this.
As you order your dumplings, you are given the choice of them being served with their regular sauce or their spicy sauce. I went with the spicy, and it does have a good heat to it. But it was very tolerable and was rather delicious. They make their sauce fresh daily, and start it off by roasting whole Roma tomatoes in the oven until slightly charred. They then blend those up with ginger, garlic, chilies (more in the spicy version), cilantro, turmeric, and sesame seeds. It’s vibrantly colored, perfectly tasty, and goes really nice with the dumplings.
When I first saw my $7 plate of dumplings, I doubted that it would fill me up. But I was surprisingly very full after eating my last dumpling. So much so that I didn’t think I could order the deep fried dumplings and samosa I planned to try. But being the glutton that I am, I couldn’t stop myself and got a samosa and three deep fried dumplings.
The samosa was awesome. It had a great dough deep fried to a perfect crunchy brown, but was still chewy and flaky. The potato filling was great. It had the exact same Indian spices as the dumplings, but they were presented in a different way somehow. The samosa was filled with potatoes, onions, peas, and cashews. Those cashews were a surprise. I thought their hard crunch was from the peas at first, but then I asked and was told they were cashews. Excellent. I could eat these things every day.
The deep fried dumplings were served with a sweet soy sesame sauce which is extremely good. They were filled with MoMo’s ground turkey side dish, and though I can appreciate the cooking simplicity behind this concept, it brings in the lack of variety concern again. The deep fried dumpling dough isn’t quite as crispy and chewy as the samosa dough, but it is good regardless. They were exceptional with the sweet Asian dipping sauce. What an awesome little treat which is a must have item to try. The mellow Indian spices with the sweet Asian sauce flavors of soy, sesame, sweet rice vinegar, orange, and chili is absolutely awesome. I wouldn’t have thought of that mix working well, but it really really did.
Recommendation for MoMo Dumplings Restaurant
MoMo’s has a small menu with everything on it being nearly the exact same thing, but The Bald Gourmet will be making this a standard lunch stop regardless. Very good food, and differently fun for Boise.