Restaurant Review: Sargam Restaurant & Bar
Columbus is home to a thriving Nepali community. In fact, the largest community of Bhutanese-Nepali in the whole U.S. calls Central Ohio home. At last count, the community was over 27,000 strong, and filled with hopeful entrepreneurs who, according to the internet, have contributed dozens of successful businesses in Reynoldsburg.
You can’t fuel innovation without some good food, and happily, Sargam Restaurant & Bar is one of those thriving Reynoldsburg businesses.
Of course, Sargam is not the first local restaurant to showcase Nepali fare. Many diners are already familiar with the Nepali dumpling (momo) scene, which made a big splash locally a couple of years ago. The versatile (and quite likable) dumplings can be fried, sauced or souped, and have made appearances in all those forms. Although momos have not yet crossed over into menus outside their native culture, they’re plenty popular.
Because momos are not uncommon, it will take more than novelty for Sargam to build a claim to fame. Fortunately, Sargam rises to the occasion. And there’s more than momos on the menu. We’ll get to that, but let’s start with the familiar, and move from there.
The aforementioned momo scene first. You can order them with a veggie or chicken filling. The architecture of the Vegetable Momos ($9.99) tells you something about the kitchen right away. The pockets are pleated, creating extra space for the filling inside – a characteristically onion-heavy mix, tinged with ginger. Lovely with sauce that adds a simmering heat to the equation.
Next on the familiar-list: Butter Chicken ($12.99). Candidly, it’s hard to pass up any item with butter in its headline. The chicken dish delivers a belly-warming, soothing stew, all the way down. And, you can appreciate the butter element, which mostly reveals itself in the satisfying richness of the tomato-based sauce.
Final entry on the familiar list: Garlic Naan ($2.99). Because a missed naan opportunity would be followed by eternal regret. It’s a cheap thrill. It’s always toasty warm and deliciously aromatic, so much that you want to drape it across your face. At Sargam, the naan is even kinda pretty, speckled with bits of garlic and green herbs.
All this is not to say that you should stay in the land of the familiar. Sargam is a safe place to branch out, too. Adventurers will be delighted with the Channa Chaat ($4.99). It’s a chickpea-based appetizer, mixed with soft potatoes and crisp cucumber, topped with impossibly creamy yogurt, bits of cilantro, and a little spicy sauce for some heat. You get a delightful combo of soft, crunchy, soothing and spike in every bite.
The success of this piled-high theme returns in something like the Samosa Chaat ($5.99). Fried Samosas are familiar favorites (and also on the menu, unadulterated in a non-chaat version). The chaat version might be a game changer, teaming samosas with cucumbers, onions, cilantro, rich yogurt and spicy sauce. It’s vaguely like loaded nachos.
For language fans, “chaat” is typically a reference to “snack.” So, essentially, you’re ordering a Chickpea Snack or a Samosa Snack…and the world of loaded snack opportunities is a promising one.
You can also investigate Sargam’s Thali scene. An order yields an adventure entree that offers a collection of treats that range from fresh cucumber slices to a hearty lentil stew to some palate-pleasing pickles and a featherweight papad. The Thali options include beef, chicken, and an achingly tender lamb ($15.99 for the latter).
Sargam is equipped with a classic bar, and the beverage options range from beer and wine to a traditional Mango Lassi. You can find it at 1371 Hentz Dr.
For more information, visit sargamrestaurant.com.
All photos by Susan Post