Queens boasts at least half a dozen momo vendors—ranging in size from carts barely big enough to house a cook to food trucks with full kitchens—specializing in the juicy dumplings popular throughout the Himalayas and India. The lion’s share are located in Jackson Heights, many are excellent, some are merely passable, but there is none quite as good as Basantapur Chowk.
The cart, which opened about a month ago, is located in Woodside outside Thamel NYC, New York City’s only Nepali nightclub, named for a popular hippie destination in Kathmandu. With a gigantic head of Lord Bhairav, the destroyer avatar of Shiva revered by Nepal’s Newari people, towering over the bar and Nepali rock bands nightly, there’s no place quite like it. And really, there are no momo quite like Basantapur’s.
The crescent-shaped momos subtle wrappers enfold beef spiced with a Newari style masala. “Dude is that jhol?” I asked Yogendra Limbu, one of Thamel’s partners. “Yes,” he responded, advising me to pour it over the dumplings. These were not my first jhol momo by a long shot, but they were definitely the first ones I have ever had from a street cart. I’m fairly certain they’re the only jhol momo being served from a cart in Queens. Fried momo, little golden orbs filled with chicken were also excellent. The crunchy little dumplings went well with the jhol too. Both types of momo were also came with a little cup of Nepali hot sauce and another of crushed fried chilies.
In true New York City street food fashion the cart, which is named for Kathmandu’s Basantapur Darbur—a magnificent nine-story pagoda style palace built in 1779—also offers hot dogs. Sadly they were out of the wieners, which come topped with a Nepali style cole slaw spiked with green chilies. The neighborhood surrounding the Basantapur Darbur, it should be noted, is known for Nepali street food, and now Woodside is too.
Basantapur Chowk, outside Thamel NYC, 63-14 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside, open 8 p.m.-2 a.m.
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