Momo Ghar dishes up momos, more with first standalone restaurant
The Dublin location of the celebrated shop dishes up its famed dumplings alongside an expanded menu of Tibetan stews, stir-fries and more
While settling into the comfortable new Momo Ghar in Dublin, I smiled at how far the business has come since its humble beginnings as a tiny, ambience-challenged eatery tucked away inside Saraga International Grocery.
I’d soon discover that one thing isn’t different in this Dublin iteration of Momo Ghar (the company has left Saraga, but retains a strong-performing stall in the Downtown North Market): The Nepali and Tibetan food, which shares characteristics with the cuisines of Northern China and Northern India, makes me happy. But now, so does the attractive, super-casual standalone setting in the Festival Centre shopping plaza.
Tibetan prayer wheels (“spin clockwise for good karma”) greet visitors in the entryway to the new eatery, whose dining room has burgundy-and-cream accents that complement colorful decorations that look like mandalas, sand art and Tibetan prayer flags.
This is hardly a Buddhist temple, though. Reggae-tinged and contemporary pop music play, and behind a bar — which offers cuisine-appropriate drinks such as Joel Gott sauvignon blanc ($31 a bottle) and the Juicy Lucy IPA from local Zaftig Brewing ($6) — are images of a celebrant of a less-contemplative denomination: Guy Fieri, the high priest of fun grub, who praised the original eatery on his “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” TV show.
The “Mayor of Flavortown” would have more to praise now, as Momo Ghar’s larger Dublin space is accompanied by an expanded menu. Before exploring the new selections, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if Guy, like me, would revisit the (as they say in Flavortown) “off-the-hook” dishes that helped build the restaurant's reputation and supplied its name.
Momos are Himalayan-style dumplings, and Momo Ghar’s eight-per-order, entirely scratch-made momos (no store-bought dough here) are among the best dumplings in town. Several are offered and they’re all terrific.
The excellent jhol momo ($11.95), essentially a signature dish, is a must. It’s purse-shaped and uncommonly supple steamed dumplings packed with garlicky, cilantro-flecked ground-chicken fillings. The lovely bundles arrive in a brothy tomato-based sauce that’s spicy, fragrant and complex.
The sauce (jhol) comes on the side with the kothey ($11.95): similar-tasting momos, but with pork-based fillings, potsticker-shapes and pan-crisped on one side.
Another carryover from the Saraga-era menu is the fiery yet hard-to-stop-eating chicken chhoila set ($14.95, and properly served cool). Although listed as a starter, this hefty platter of boldly seasoned meat, potatoes and black-eyed peas presented with chile-mitigating and texturally contrasting crinkly beaten rice could easily be a knockout meal for one ravenous customer who enjoys a leek-and-tomato-powered edible thrill-ride of curry-style, aromatic and nutty flavors. That definitely describes me.
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Not everything is spicy — including some of the newer dishes, which tend to be stews, stir-fries and noodle preparations that taste good but can be oily. Among these is the homey and hearty luksha shamdey ($15.95, with fluffy rice), a mild Tibetan-style lamb curry that was glistening with flavor-imparting fat and starred extremely tender meat ably assisted by potatoes.
Sesha with beef ($12.95, with rice) was a pleasant, five-spice-scented, mild and saucy stir-fry of broccoli, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and exceptionally tender meat. Many of the same veggies — plus partially pan-crisped thin noodles, carrots, ginger and garlic — resurfaced in the tsel gyathuk ngopa ($11.95), the Himalyan answer to vegetable lo mein.
Another item that wouldn’t be out of place in a Chinese restaurant is the large pork chilly ($12.95, served with flatbread) — a spicy stir-fry with onions, peppers, scallions, jalapenos and super-tender pork slices that were dark as beef, likely from a soy-sauce-based marinade.
The only dessert offered is deysee ($5.95) — lightly sweetened, raisin-speckled rice served with yogurt and strawberries. It’s simple but palate-soothing and, fitting for this delightful new place, a traditionally celebratory dish.
2800 Festival Lane, Dublin
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Monday