Slippery chewy cold noodles coated in a chili-spiked sauce have been a favorite since I slurped my first sesame-slicked strand. Here in Queens the cold noodle game gets way deeper than sesame noodles, Sichuan noodles, or even near ubiquitous cold skin noodles from Xi’an Famous Foods. That depth is best measured by something I like to call Tibetan style cold skin noodle sushi. I discovered it at Lhasa Fast Food, a Himalayan hot spot hidden behind a cell phone store. (more…)
Phayul’s momo took home the prize after a three-way tiebreaker.
Forget the James Beard Awards. When it comes to recognition in the culinary arts I’m all about the Golden Momo. Yesterday was the Second Annual Momo Crawl in Jackson (aka Himalayan) Heights. The object of the event organized by Jeff Orlick was to find the best momo of the 20 places in the hood. I am still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that there are 20 places offering the beef dumpling beloved by Tibetans and Nepalese, I thought there were a dozen at most. I was unable to attend the crawl as I was giving a food tour of Elmhurst, but judging from the activity on the Twitter machine, the rain did not keep folks away.
One of Phayul’s momo maestros with the coveted trophy.
Late yesterday evening I learned that Phayul took first prize after a three-way tie-breaker with Ganjong Kitchen and Lhasa Fast Food. I was pleased to hear this as Phayul is one of my favorite Tibetan spots, so much so that I took Andrew Zimmern there. So I jumped on the 7 train to get a glimpse of the coveted Golden Momo and help my friends at Phayul celebrate.
The Dalai Lama flanked by a basketball trophy and the Golden Momo.
When I got to Phayul it was crowded—not with the 80 momo crawlers that had roamed the streets earlier in the afternoon—but with the usual mix of Tibetan families and young people all eating momo. I shared a table with a couple who each had an order of momo ($5). They were amazed both by the Golden Momo, and the fact that I was thoroughly enjoying their national dish. As I slurped a complimentary bowl of beef stock, the Nepalese gent next to me asked if the restaurant was given the award last year. “No, earlier this afternoon,” I replied. “It’s one of my favorite place for Tibetan food.” Oh and if Phayul isn’t your favorite momo place, don’t worry there are 19 other joints to choose from.
Phayul, 37-65 74th St, Jackson Heights, 718-424-1869
Even on a snowy night people line up for momo at A&G Himalayan Fresh Food.
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.