Momo—the beef dumplings beloved of Tibetans—are everywhere in Himalayan Heights. So popular are the crimped top little packages that I have taken to calling the neighborhood’s Tibetan restaurants momo parlors. For more than five years there has been a lone food cart stationed underneath an Indian jewelry store where momos were steamed day and night. In that time halal food carts and trucks have proliferated along 73rd St., but for the longest time there was just that one momo cart.
During the first snowstorm of winter I discovered that another cart, A&G Himalayan Fresh Food, had set up shop right across the street from what had been the hood’s first and only momo cart. It’s run by two brothers Amchu and Gyatso who hail from Amdo in Central Tibet. In addition to momo the brothers also sell a traditional flat bread called baklep. A small one, slightly larger than an English muffin goes for a $1, while the dinner plate-sized version will set you back $8. I am told baklep is typically eaten with tea. Why there is a photo on the side of the cart of a container of Philadelphia Cream Cheese beside the bread remains a mystery.
When it comes to finer points of momo nuances I am rather clueless. I imagine a Tibetan might find himself at a similar loss when asked to compare hamburgers from American diners. That said A&G’s momo ($5 for eight) were pretty good. The hot sauce and a gratis bowl of beef broth kept me warm while I chatted with Gyatso.
The next day I returned to Jackson (aka Himalayan) Heights to see how the dumplings from the Potala Express cart stacked up to A&G’s. The cart takes takes its name from the Potala Palace, the chief residence of the Dalai Lama in Tibet before the 1959 uprising.
As I said I’m no momo maven but Potala’s (also $5 for eight) were juicier than A&G’s. They were almost like soup dumplings. It turns out that the folks who run Potala are also from Amdo, as is the 14th Dalai Lama.
I like to think that his Holiness would take pleasure in the fact the two would-be competitors seem to be able to peacefully coexist. I am truly hard-pressed to say which has the better momo. I take great comfort in knowing that I can get momo at not one, but two carts. I am also intrigued by the possibility of fashioning a momo burrito with the bread from A&G. Then again, maybe not.
Potala Fresh Momo, 37th Ave and Broadway, Jackson Heights
A&G Himalayan Fresh Food, Broadway and 73rd St., Jackson Heights