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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

Kick off the weekend with Barroluco’s block party

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Need Friday lunch plans? How about a latin-inspired block party?

Now that warm weather is upon us, downtown Argentinian concept Barroluco is celebrating its grand opening with a block party this weekend.

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Known for South American favorites such as empanadas and paella, Barroluco’s first brick and mortar location opened back in December at the former location of El Arepazo Latin Grill at 47 N. Pearl St. Barroluco’s original food truck also remains in operation.

Photo by Emma Kate Low

The alley behind Pearl St. will be closed off for a ribbon-cutting ceremony today (Friday) at 11:00AM, with a block party to follow. Specials and giveaways will be available through Saturday, April 27 in honor of the opening festivities.

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North Star Short North getting a whole lot bigger, boozier

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The Northstar is growing! No, not the sky’s biggest star, but rather, Short North’s organic New American kitchen.

This year marks the restaurant’s 15 anniversary, and owners Kevin Malhame, Katy Malhame, and Darren Malhame have decided that it’s high time to update. Conveniently, the Malhame’s have held a lease at 945 N High St.—right next door to Northstar at 951 N High St.—for some time now and are ready to put it to use, reports Columbus Business First.

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The space will allow for an additional 1,000 square feet of dining room and, more excitingly, a full bar with wine, spirits, and dozens of Ohio beers on tap.

Work is slated to begin this summer. The restaurant will remain open during the expansion.

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Beer for Breakfast: Start the day at 4 Columbus breweries

Mike Thomas

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Is there such a thing as “too early” for a beer? We would humbly submit that no, there isn’t.

While everyone else is waiting until noon, raise a toast to the sunrise with these breakfast-themed creations from some of Columbus’ top breweries.

Note: always drink responsibly. We don’t want any angry calls from your boss saying you showed up to work completely tossed. Check yourself before you wreck yourself!

Wolf’s Ridge |215 N 4th St

The brewmaster at Wolf’s Ridge is clearly a strong believer in popping off in the AM. “Cinnamon Toast Brunch” – a cinnamon-infused twist on the brewery’s staple cream ale, is delicious at any time of the day. Need something with a little more kick to get you moving? Wolf’s Ridge cellar reserve bottle offering, “’17 All The Breakfast,” is an imperial breakfast-style ale that clocks in at 10.8% ABV.

Homestead Beer Co. | 811 Irving Wick Dr W, Heath

Columbus Beer Week is a celebration of the many, many great beers available throughout central Ohio. If you stand any chance of sampling them all, breakfast brewskis are a must. Luckily, Homestead Beer Co. has you covered with a Beer Week concoction that will take you back to the days of Saturday morning cartoons and rainbow-colored milk. Prepare yourself for Homestead’s Cocoa Pebbles porter, “Yabba Dabba Brew.”

Hoof Hearted Brewing | 850 N 4th St

Like their neighbors Wolf’s Ridge up the street, Hoof Hearted offers a sudsy take on cinnamon toast crunch. At 10.5% ABV, “Miracle Toast” will either start your day off on a strong note, or send you back to bed until noon.

Though not explicitly marketed as a breakfast beer, Hoof Hearted’s “Fitness Freak,” an imperial stout with coffee, vanilla and maple syrup added, has all of the morning-time flavors you crave. At a whopping 14%, it’s also a surefire way to transition from brunch to nap time.

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Platform | 408 N 6th St

If you don’t think a peanut butter cream puff from Schmidt’s qualifies as a breakfast item, what are you doing with your life? Cleveland-based Platform pays homage to a Columbus institution with the release of their “Schmidt’s Peanut Butter Fudge Puff” brew. This maibock style beer boasts a respectable 7.1% ABV – just enough for some AM fun without derailing your whole day.

What’s your go-to morning brew? Let us know in the comments!

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