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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

Brewery District bakery to close after 10 years

614now Staff

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The Brewery District will be sans a bakery in just a few short days.

After 10 years, Kolache Republic will be serving its last pastry on Saturday, February 8.

"We are truly grateful to our community of customers, friends, family and staff who have supported us in our pursuit to bring a unique food experience to this vibrant city as Columbus’ first and only kolache bakery," wrote Kolache Republic on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/Kolacherepublic/posts/3438844786142628

Other than deciding it was "time to hang up our oven mitts and start a new chapter," the Czech pastry shop did not provide a reason for the closure.

If you're planning on showing a lot of love for Kolache Republic before it closes, Kolache recommends calling ahead for any orders of a dozen or more.

Kolache Republic is located at 730 S High St.

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Food & Drink

Hilliard looking to tap into its first brewery soon

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Orlando-based Crooked Can Brewing is targeting a February launch for their new taproom and brewery space in Hilliard, according to Drink Up Columbus.

The 4,000-square-foot taproom will be joined by a 7,000-square-foot patio, which will provide outdoor seating for the brewery as well as Hilliard's Center Street Market, which is expected to open in March.

The taproom will also feature large viewing windows where patrons can get a behind-the-scenes look at Crooked Can's new 16,000 square foot brewing operation.

Once open, Crooked Can Brewing will be located at 5354 Center Street in Hilliard. For more info, visit Drink Up Columbus.

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Food & Drink

Restaurant Week: High Bank’s $20 deluxe comfort food menu doesn’t disappoint

Regina Fox

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If you've sequestered High Bank into strictly a booze category, you're missing out on one of the most well-executed comfort food menus in Columbus, especially during Restaurant Week.

Weighing in at a mere $20 per person, High Bank's three-course menu is so tantalizing, you'll struggle to pick just one dish from each. Believe me, I certainly did.

Course 1: Choice of Garden Salad, Nacho Fries, Loaded Baked Potato, Five Ways Spaghetti

With great power (being tasked with choosing just one starter) comes great responsibility (making sure I pick the best). Luckily, there really is no wrong move.

Ever had Taco Bell's Nacho Fries? High Bank's are better. Crispy, battered fries smothered in melty queso, seasoned beef, refried beans, and a generous heap of sour cream make for an elevated, indulgent, heavyweight starter. The portion is definitely big enough to share, but I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.

Course 2: Choice of High Bank Bacon Cheeseburger, Queso-Rito, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, High Bank Bowl

Since stick-to-your-bones food is officially back in season, you have to get down to High Bank for their fried chicken menu items. The chicken is battered using an incredibly light and crunchy buttermilk, fried, then dusted with cayenne that leaves a warm glow on your palate—not too hot, not too mild.

Restaurant Week features two chicken entrees: the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and the High Bank Bowl.

The sandwich is an instant comfort food classic, but the High Bank Bowl is like the designer version of KFC's Famous Bowl. The mashed potatoes are perfectly salted and buttered, the sweet corn adds just the right amount of sweetness and pop, and the cheese and gravy culminate into a savory sauce. Colonel Sanders would be impressed.

Course 3: Choice of Mint Chocolate Sandwich, Snickerdoodle Sandwich, Oreo Sandwich

At this point, I was almost too full to function, but I had to press on. To absolutely no one's surprise, High Bank's third course did not disappoint.

The Snickerdoodle Sandwich came with two perfectly under-baked snickerdoodle cookies bookending a lump of hard-dip butter pecan ice cream. Drizzles of white chocolate over top sent this dessert into the winner's circle.

I can't remember the last time I felt so repleted, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat, and so should you. At just $20 a head, this is a deal you can't afford to miss.

Click here to check out High Bank's Restaurant Week menu. To learn more about Restaurant Week January 20-25, visit eat614.com.

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