Friday, September 23, 2011

Cafe MoMo: Nepalese Cuisine

While driving through Manchester, New Hampshire recently Judy looked on Yelp to find the highest rated restaurant. It turned out to be Cafe MoMo located at 1064 Hanover Street (phone: 603-623-3733). What was particularly intriguing is that it serves Nepalese food. I've never even heard of a Nepalese restaurant. At least several years ago, it was the only Nepalese restaurant in New England. The high rating became even more fascinating when we pulled up and found that it was located in a sort of industrial area and was rather humble looking. 
An older man (the proprietor?) served us. He came from Kathmandu, Nepal 8 years ago. He was a Hindu and had been an "Untouchable" in Nepal. The decor was very simple but loud with bright yellow, orange, 
red, blue and green. 
We were initially brought a flat herbed bread with a dipping sauce which I believe was avocado, cilantro and some sort of pepper. 
The bread was okay, but the sauce was fantastic. It was very spicy. I ate bread until the sauce was gone and stopped. Judy and I each got a strawberry lassi (yogurt) which was good.  
As an appetizer we ordered momo, traditional Nepali dumplings. 
We got four with a lamb filling and four with a shrimp filling. 
The filling had less impact on the taste than the outer pasta and the very spicy orange sauce which came with it. It was the sauce that made the dumplings great. In fact it was really the wonderfully spicy sauces and the fresh vegetables that distinguish this restaurant. As an entree, Judy got goat curry rice, which was marinated goat prepared in its own juices with mixed vegetables. 
It also had a scoop of white rice with avocado and cilantro chili sauce on top. The vegetables (carrots, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, green beans, onion and zucchini) were very plentiful, fresh and crisp, only lightly cooked. The spicy brown sauce perfectly melded with the goat and made it the best item we ate. I got lamb Nepali way as my entree, which was three or four small lamb chops marinated in rosemary basil and thyme sauce, grilled in a cast iron skillet in olive oil, red wine and ginger garlic. 
It was also on a bed of fresh vegetables, only lightly cooked with a scoop of white rice with cilantro and avocado sauce on top. It was good, but I felt the spice masked rather than enhanced the taste of the lamb. 
We were asked how spicy we wanted it, on a scale of 1 to 10. We said we like things spicy: our waiter suggested a 7. At 7 it was plenty hot. At 10 we would never have tasted the food - we would have called 911. Our waiter said he primarily ate goat in Nepal as he was poor and lived in the city. He didn't eat lamb until he got to the U.S. I asked if they ate lamb in Nepal and he said they did in the mountains. I have probably never had a better medley of fresh vegetables. We learned that many of the vegetables they serve are grown on the premises. As we left, he showed us the peppers and green beans he grew in pots right in front of the restaurant. They also had plants growing next to a chain-link fence along their property line with some other commercial business. 
These are the kinds of restaurants I love: very ethnic, very original, very good food, and very open and willing to share and teach you about their culture. 


  1. I've had goat in several places now, and I think this was the most moist and tender rendition I have had. Delicious! Yay, Yelp!

  2. I think it is worthy to note that it was Judy who ordered the goat, not me. I have the reputation for eating weird food, but she often outdoes me.

  3. We ate there today for the first time. We had the flatbread with the avocado cilantro sauce. The sauce was delicious and the bread was warm. It had was seasoned with some dill and was perfect for the sauce. We both ordered the veggie crepe. The crepe is made from lentil flour. It was a huge serving with a plethora of veggies including eggplant, peas, green beans, mushrooms, peppers, onions, scallions, zucchini, broccoli.... Yummy. We were asked how hot. We had one medium and one mild. They were topped with avocado cilantro sauce and a red sauce. I would order this again. A great place to dine.