A small lunch counter at Saraga International Grocery celebrates a Himalayan staple
For those familiar with the Himalayan cuisine of Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and parts of northern India, momos, or filled dumplings, stand apart as iconic. With Central Ohio's recent influx of Nepalese and Bhutanese refugees, the cuisine has popped up in an increasing number of outlets. However, one momo purveyor in particular seems to have captured the enthusiasm of the community.
Momo Ghar makes its handmade dumplings in a manner reminiscent of several Chinese styles. The dumplings are larger here than elsewhere, and are offered in a wider variety of fillings. Nepalese-style momo are filled with a mildly spicy yellow curried chicken, while Tibetan dumplings are stuffed with a subtler pork filling. Other options include an aloo momo with potato curry, and a vegetarian version with cabbage and seasonal vegetables. All are lovingly handcrafted and delicious, with our nod going to the steamed Nepalese and pan-fried Tibetan versions. Momo Ghar's best seller is the momo jhol: Nepalese momos served in a bowl with a spicy red sauce ladled over them. If you can take the heat, this is a great place to start.
Equally spicy is the inconsistently available-but consistently enjoyable-chicken chhoila set, consisting of deboned grilled chicken cubes, potatoes, black-eyed peas and flattened rice, served cold. Other dishes include Kathmandu-style chow mein and fried rice, and a Tibetan-style ramen soup known as thukpa that comes mounded with stir-fried veggies and chicken.
While Momo Ghar's setting may be humble-it's a simple lunch counter with five seats inside of Saraga International Grocery-it buzzes with good cheer and camaraderie. We repeatedly sensed pride, from both our counter mates and the owners, that this was an element of Himalayan culture that they were eager to share with the uninitiated.
It's easy to see why.