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

614now Staff

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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

We Sheet you not, Sheetz is coming to Columbus

Mike Thomas

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Regional gas station chains seem to accumulate cult followings of loyal customers. While word of a new convenience store coming to town may not seem like a big deal at first, just ask your friends from Pennsylvania about Sheetz.

The popular chain of convenience stores and coffee shops headquartered in Altoona, Pennsylvania has announced an expansion into the Columbus market with this remarkable hype video posted to Facebook:

Sheetz locations offer fresh, made-to-order food options that set the chain apart from the usual gas station fare.

No open date for the Central Ohio location has been announced at this time. For more, visit www.sheetz.com/

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Raising the Steaks: Ruth’s Chris returns to Columbus with new Short North digs

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With no shortage of local competitors welcoming carnivores, Ruth’s Chris Steak House has opened its doors in the Short North. After shuttering its Crosswoods location in 2016 due to “market changes,” the Florida-based steakhouse is back in the Bus.

The new restaurant promises a fine-dining experience tailored especially to the Columbus market and its location.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

“Knowing that we are across from the convention center, this is one of our bigger locations to allow room for a larger bar, private dining rooms and main dining room,” says Maria Policastro, general manager of Ruth’s Chris Columbus. “We kept the Short North Arts District culture in mind during every step of the design process as well, making sure we included elements that incorporated the downtown skyline and ever-present Ohio buckeye trees.”

Indeed, the entrance feels homey and features local art on display to bring some “Columbus” to the space. The building was once home to a hotel, and while undeniably formal, the dinner-only restaurant nevertheless offers a warm and welcoming feel. The waitstaff has its service down to an absolute science. Hand-polished wine glasses top each table and every element of the dining experience is expertly attended to.

Regardless of whether diners care to indulge in one of its more than 250 wines or a vintage-inspired craft cocktail, the main event here is the food. Its extra-thick-cut, wet-aged USDA prime steaks are broiled in a trademark 1800-degree oven and served sizzling on a 500-degree plate so every last bite stays warm.

“From our food to our service, Ruth’s Chris really stands out on its own,” said Policastro. “Ruth believed in treating her guests and employees as family, so that’s how we treat them too—by being warm and welcoming and paying attention to every little detail.”

Ruth Fertel mortgaged her home in 1965 and purchased Chris’s Steak House, a 60-seat restaurant located in New Orleans. After a fire forced her to move locations and rename the restaurant, she settled on Ruth’s Chris Steak House, hence the somewhat strange moniker.

Fertel, who died in 2002 at 75, would likely be shocked to see the size of the private dining rooms in the Columbus restaurant that bears her name. “Our private dining rooms are some of the largest at any Ruth’s Chris,” says Policastro. “When designing our private dining rooms, it was important to us that we made enough space to accommodate our customers in this busy area, along with larger parties who choose to dine with us after visiting the Convention Center or coming from the Ohio State University nearby.”

The private dining rooms each have their own unique Columbus vibe, with names like the Goodale, Victorian and Buckeye Rooms. Which is fitting because, “we’re around the corner from Columbus’ historic Goodale Park, we’re part of the Victorian Village, and we are in the heart of Buckeye nation,” Policastro said. Ruth’s Chris Steak House Columbus is already seeing its private rooms booking up for upcoming events and holidays. “We cannot wait to host these special moments for those who live in and visit the Short North Arts District.”

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is located at 511 N High Street. Learn more at ruthschris.com/restaurant-locations/columbus.

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Easton’s “dramatic” rooftop bar and restaurant opens this week

614now Staff

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Heads up, Easton, a snazzy new concept is opening this week. Restoration Hardware, or RH, will open The Gallery at Easton Town Center and RH Rooftop Restaurant & Park and Wine & Barista Bar on Thursday, December 12, at 11am.

According to a release, The Gallery "represents the brand’s quest to revolutionize physical retailing," with "immersive experience features artistic installations of luxury home furnishings in a gallery setting."

The three-story, 55,000-square-foot space will serve as "one of the most comprehensive collections of luxury home furnishings in the world."

The "dramatic" Rooftop Restaurant will offer "a year-round, skylit garden escape offering a timeless, ingredient-driven menu beneath a soaring atrium with retractable glass walls, and sparkling crystal chandeliers.

The restaurant will open onto a landscaped park with outdoor lounge spaces and trellised London plane trees.

Situated just off the grand stair, the Wine & Barista Bar will serve craft espresso, fresh-baked pastries, and artisanal wines to enjoy in the Rooftop Park.

This development will act as the anchor for Easton's new $500 million expansion.

RH Columbus, The Gallery at Easton Town Center is located at 4120 Worth Ave., Columbus. For more information, visit eastontowncenter.com.

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