Americans don’t eat momos. My guess is most people in the USA (and much of the Western world) don’t even know what they are.
The closest thing I’d ever known before spending time in Asia is pierogi. Westerners do know that Polish favorite.
Now, after years living in Asia, I’m something of an expert on the little dumpling delights that are momos.
Momos are said to be a Tibetan creation. But they can be found most everywhere in India and Nepal, certainly China… and even Thailand and Malaysia.
This blog post is about what I believe may be the best momos in the world!
What are momos?
Momos are usually smaller than pierogi – but very similar; a dough ‘wrapper’ – a dumpling – filled with potato or cabbage or spinach or cheese or minced meat — or some combination of such.
Like pierogi, they can be cooked in various ways. But in Asia, they are usually steamed – after that, perhaps pan-fried, deep fried, or barbecued.
At The Old Everest Momo Company in Kathmandu, Nepal, they are ONLY steamed, and ONLY available with minced buffalo meat filling. And they are served by the thousands daily to those lucky enough to know about this modest but fantastic eatery.
Best momos in the world – pluses and negatives
During our six days staying just outside the touristy ‘Thamel’ area of Kathmandu, I ate Old Everest momos every day. I craved them. I still do. Now!
They were sooooo good! Perfect. Light. Tender. Moist. Moderately spicy. Served steaming hot. And smothered in a masala spiced broth that terrifically complimented the garlic, onion, and minced buffalo meat combination. Gasp!
The only thing better, would be enjoying them with an ice cold beer. Sadly, no beer is available at the Old Everest dining room — only cold soda pops (Coke, Sprite, Fanta Orange).
The remedy to this is to get them ‘to go’ – take out. I had several orders with beer on our Kathmandu Airbnb balcony. Mmmmmmm. Amazing!
(*Ellen’s momos pictured above are vegetarian momos, bought elsewhere.)
A few other pluses and minuses about Old Everest momos – in case you ever find yourself hungry in Kathmandu.
The PRICE! A standard order of 10 momos is 140 Nepali rupees ($1.06 as of March 2023). Yes, $1.06! Half orders at half price are available too. But most people ate more – not less. Soda pop in old-fashioned glass bottles is 50 rupees (40 cents). Free water in pitchers is on every table. Napkins, too.
It’s an efficient operation. You walk in, order and pay first at the register. The momos are cooked in huge steamers — hundreds at a time. They are always ready. Usually, within seconds of ordering, 10 momos are placed in front of you by a server. Moments later, a second server pours the steaming hot ‘secret sauce’ over your plate. Time to dig in. You could be finished and out the door in less than 10 minutes if you want.
The servers and staff are all polite, fast, in uniform (rare for restaurants in Nepal or India), wear hair nets, and constantly clean and wipe down all surfaces. In fact, we walked by one night after closing and the staff was CLEANING THE WHOLE PLACE – top to bottom (also rare in Asia). Tipping is not expected.
As mentioned above, take-out orders are common and are usually filled in just a couple minutes. To-go momos are packed in foil containers – the spiced broth in a plastic sandwich bag. Both stay nice n’ hot.
Consistency: every momo and slurp of sauce I had from Old Everest momos tasted exactly the same. Delicious! If you want these momos – you want these EXACT momos. Old Everest delivered every time.
No other momo options at all. No veg. No chicken. No cheese. No pan frying. No other sauces or chutneys. No side dishes. NO BEER! (FYI, beer is sold EVERYWHERE in Nepal.) Buffalo momos else ‘no soup for you’!
The minced buffalo is a ‘coarse grind’ — BEWARE – there can be pieces of bone in the mix. DO NOT bite down hard (good advice when eating any meat in developing countries). I had a chunk of bone or two in every order of 10 momos I devoured. No problem.
You must like Nepali/Indian spices. I do. There was pepper, cardamom, cilantro, other spices too. The recipe is a guarded secret.
Another minus: those tabletop free water pitchers. Nowhere else in the world have I seen diners pick up a pitcher — and guzzle from it! Women too! Whoever next enters and sits at that table – the same! Not exactly an advisable practice in the COVID era. I ordered a soda every time.
No English. The staff knows very little English. No conversation is possible. But heck, as stated above, there’s not much to talk about. Hand gestures work just fine. (There was one ‘cashier’ – looked like the owner’s son – who did speak good English, but he was rarely present).
Best momos on planet Earth
I am aware there are other famous and favorite momo places in Kathmandu. Momos really are a Nepali staple. And honestly, I did not go around trying them all, comparing them, etc. There’s probably a case to be made for many different operators as ‘the best’. After eating momos all around Asia, Old Everest just wowed me, seduced me, addicted me. If you ever do get to Kathmandu, go ahead and try some others — just don’t miss my loved ones. (This link is a map of the location.)
Mmmmm… Old Everest Momos, I miss you! Just writing this has me salivating… and whimpering. I’m now in Calcutta/Kolkata, India. No such momos here.
Suggestion to some struggling bar/restaurant in America; perfect a similar recipe and process — you could make a fortune! Old Everest Momos is a VERY busy place. A Buffalo momo night in America could be as popular as wings or mussels or tacos. Maybe even add a few ‘options’. Jackpot! I’d be there.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!