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A Taste of Nepal: Columbus’ Hidden Dumpling, Momo Ghar

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A Taste of Nepal: Columbus’ Hidden Dumpling, Momo Ghar

Nelle Smith


If you’ve never heard of momo, you’re not alone.

Before I visited Momo Ghar — a little Nepalese eatery inside the Saraga International Market on Morse Rd. — my knowledge of Nepal and its culture was limited to the movie Everest and a brief and unrequited love affair with throat-singing. I’d certainly never eaten the food.

But I was eager to be educated, so, after reading all the rave reviews on Yelp, I set a date with my partner in food crime, The Russian, and we stepped up to the tiny bar at Momo Ghar. We hoped to be rewarded with wonderful spices.

And the spices are, indeed, fabulous — almost too fabulous for my dinner companion. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.

First, an obligatory explanation of momos: they’re little dumplings filled with spiced meat or veggies, and served with a spicy sauce. At Momo Ghar, they’re made completely by hand in front of customers.

And let me tell you: watching the staff assemble momos by hand is worth the price of admission on its own. They roll out individual little spheres of dough with a wooden rod, plop them full of meat and veggies, then pinch them closed so rapidly and precisely we couldn’t look away. It’s like watching a professional potter make identical soup bowl after identical soup bowl — you know what you’re seeing is real, but you still don’t quite believe it’s possible.

“We’re running dangerously low on veggie dumplings,” owner Phuntso Lama explained wryly, as she started on her second row of dumplings. She’s so practiced at sealing the little momos that she carries on conversations with customers while she does it, and interacting with her and her staff while we ate was one of the unexpected joys of our visit. (Recommendation: if there’s room, sit at the bar.)

But the taste of the momos? I can see why they run out of them regularly. Those babies—which were described to us as “no-holds-barred Nepalese food”—are seriously delicious.

We tried two main dishes: the Chicken Chhoila (a dish of chicken, potatoes, and rice, served cold) and their bestseller—the #1 Jhol Momo. The latter was our favorite. It’s eight chicken dumplings served in a generous portion of roasted tomato sauce, and it’s spicy in a way that warms the bones — it tastes deep more than hot.

Still, the spice builds quickly: even I, a professed lover of heat, had to slow down a bit when I ate the Jhol Momo. And The Russian, who recoils at any salsa above medium, took a break halfway through, during which he turned a lovely, subtle shade of rose and went absolutely silent. We drank two glasses of water each. (Then we spilled one down the entire bar, just for good measure.)

So if you’re one of those people who panics if someone asks if you “like spicy food,” I recommend looking a bit further down the menu at the Nepali Momos. They’re the same dumplings, but the sauce is served on the side so you have a bit more control over the level of heat.

And the baara— a bread made from lentil flour which isn’t even on the menu — is worth ordering, if you can cajole them to make it (it takes valuable stovetop space). It’s fried on the stove and has a soothing, almost creamy interior that provides a good counterpoint to the spices in the rest of the meal.

All in all, we emphatically agree with the vanity plate we saw on the way out of the market: “EAT MOMO.”

Just make sure they pour you a glass of water first.

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Food & Drink

Game of Cones: New ice cream contender coming to Short North

Mike Thomas

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It seems a new challenger is emerging in the race to claim the Columbus ice cream crown.

CRMD, a new ice cream spot opening soon at 1190 N. High St. in the Short North, is being teased for a “summer 2019” launch on the company’s website.

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The same site shows the brand’s flavor offerings, which will include matcha, Viet coffee, and cereal + milk. Upon opening, CRMD will also be slinging puffles – a spherical egg-based waffle cone popular in Hong Kong and Macau.

For more information and a full list of flavors, visit www.getcrmd.com.

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Biz + Dev

Update: Cajun food fans disappointed by Ned’s Bayou development

Mike Thomas

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UPDATE: While concrete information regarding the mysterious Ned’s Bayou is still unavailable, signs seem to indicate that the retail space will serve as a popup store for Twenty One Pilots merchandise when the duo comes to town for a double-header at Nationwide Arena on June 29 & 30.

Exhibit A: searching “Ned’s Bayou” on the Ohio Secretary of State’s online database shows an address on Worthington Galena Rd. for the business’ registered owner. The members of Twenty One Pilots are themselves former Worthington residents.

While this in and of itself says little, the group’s de facto mascot (seen here in the music video for the song “Chlorine”) happens to be named Ned.

Mere coincidence? I guess we’ll find out by the end of the month. For now, it seems fans of cajun food might have to look elsewhere to get their fix!

***

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A brand new awning sporting the words “Ned’s Bayou” has appeared over the former Blick’s Art Supplies location at 612 N High St in the Short North.

While initial searches have turned up little information about this forthcoming business, we can only assume that this will one day be the sight of a Louisiana-inspired restaurant of some sort.

Then again, the word “Bayou” carries other connotations. Maybe this will be the Short North’s first-ever spot for gator rasslin’. Only time will tell!

614NOW will keep an eye peeled for more info on this business as it becomes available.

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Food & Drink

614NOW Fried Chicken Trail: Uncle Nick’s Greek Fried Chicken

Mike Thomas

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First came the 614NOW Donut Trail. Then, there was the Mac & Cheese Trail. Now, 614NOW is on the hunt for the best fried chicken this city has to offer. Welcome to the 614NOW Fried Chicken Trail!

Uncle Nick’s Greek Fried Chicken

1333 Northwest Blvd

This unpretentious Grandview-area joint is serving up the same fried chicken that made its first location in Warren Ohio a hit since its opening in 1956.

It’s no surprise that the central Ohio Nick’s location is slinging classic fried chicken worthy of its old-school pedigree. Nick’s Greek is exactly what many people long for when they think “fried chicken” – pressure-fried bird that is crispy on the outside and delectably juicy inside.

Be warned – this chicken is so good, you will be locked in that hopeless balancing act of trying to take bites without burning the inside of your mouth.

The crust on Uncle Nick’s chicken is so crispy, it seems like it would never go soft even if you left it in a closed container for an hour. This also means that the juices inside the meat have nowhere to hide, and are perfectly preserved within.

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Fried chicken places are notoriously tight with their secret recipes, but if I had to guess, I’d say that much this chicken’s seasoning comes care of a generous brining. As a result, the meat is salty and mild, allowing the natural flavors of the chicken to shine. Notably, a motto hanging on the wall of the place states, “If the Colonel had our recipe, he’d be a general.” I find no fault in this statement.

Was there just grease on the lens, or was this chicken actually glowing?

Uncle Nick’s is the kind of spot you’ll want to take a friend who has never experienced “real deal” fried chicken. While I preferred the dark meat (owner/operator Andrew Cleary was kind enough to hook me up with a half-bird’s worth of pieces) all of it was head-and-shoulders above any fast-food chains in terms of texture and flavor.

Ratings:
Aroma:🍗🍗🍗🍗 (4/5 drumsticks)
Flavor: 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗 (5/5)
Seasoning: 🍗🍗🍗🍗 (4/5)
Crispiness: 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗 (5/5)
Overall Experience: 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗 (5/5)

Uncle Nick’s Fried Chicken scores a hearty 23/25 on our rating scale. Get out there and see for yourself why this spot is a favorite catering option for the Ohio State Buckeyes Football squad!

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