Restaurant Review: Momo at the NoMa
It’s been a season of switcheroos for the North Market. While its homegrown Little Eater and Hot Chicken Takeover operations have been spreading their wings (poultry pun possibilities noted) and opening satellite locations, the market recently imported a Momo Ghar spin-off from Morse Road’s international Saraga Market. That gives Columbus residents two spots to score some highly acclaimed momos. And by “highly acclaimed,” we mean not just locally, but on the national eating scene too. The original Momo Ghar is nationally ranked in the top 100 by Yelp, and the operation has also caught the attention of culinary celebrity Guy Fieri.
So now, with double the outlets in town, that’s mo’ momos.
And more momos are a good thing by all accounts. There’s a momo for every crowd right now, except for the gluten-free perhaps: there are meat momos, vegan momos, and walkable momos at the North Market, and momos for the car crowd at Saraga with its giant parking lot. While Saraga has ample parking and scores of shelves for international grocery shopping, the momos are next to the frozen seafood section, which occasionally creates an unappetizing sensory conflict for diners. No such conflicts at the North Market. And while the Saraga location features an extensive menu with lots of options, the North Market’s version is paired down to basically four things. On the bright side, the four options certainly cut down on the potential for analysis paralysis. Priced under $10, you can just basically order one of everything and have a little party.
Up first, #1: the Jhol Momo. It’s quite popular and also quite oniony. Inside the plump dumplings (plumplings), you’ll find a compact, almost homogenous mixture of minced chicken and onion. The momos are served with the house broth, a reddish brew that is impressively substantial; it adds a full-bodied spike to each momo mouthful, that drives the eating experience into the ethereal.
But popularity is overrated, because #2, Tibetan Momo, is better than the Johl version. That is, unless you just love-love-love the onions in #1. For the less onion-centric crew, the Tibetan version is defined by its balanced and almost aromatic mix of cilantro and pork and (yes) a bit of onion. Also served with the broth, it’s more interesting and no less deliciously satisfying.
Both #3 and #4 are vegan friendly options. The #3 is the Vegetable Momo, a lighter collection of ingredients wrapped carefully inside the now familiar, tender-yet-sturdy dumpling shell. The #4, Alu Momo, is potato based, making it heartier and sturdier. That same aforementioned broth unifies them all.
Both the Morse Road Saraga and the North Market are casual operations. At the first location, the staff make the dumplings right next to the dining counter, so guests get a front seat to a fascinating process that involves rolling the dough out and shaping each dumpling individually. You still see the rolling action at the North Market, but it’s perpendicular and at the end of the counter. The process is no less impressive, but the view of the action isn’t quite as good.
You can find the newest Momo Ghar installation in the North Market at 59 Spruce St.