Wednesday, July 20, 2011

MomoFest 2011

Oh, it was on.  We were going to find the best momos in Pokhara and we were going to do it in a single epic momo-crawl.  It was MomoFest 2011 for the Mo'Meshkovs and the Mo'Martens and we weren't going to quit until we'd found the momo with the mo'mostest.

This is the sort of thing that happens when there is a nation-wide transportation strike and you are stuck in Pokhara for longer than you had expected.

A momo is a dumpling, from Tibet or the Nepali Himalayas.  It can be steamed or fried, and stuffed with buffalo meat, chicken, vegetables, potato, cheese or any combination thereof.  It was arguably one of our favorite foods on the trek, and certainly Kate's favorite.  The fact that it was a "special order" item that could take upwards of 30 minutes to prepare simply added to its allure.

But where could we sample these delectable envelopes of goodness?  Where would we kick off the momo-munch?

Why, the appropriately named "Local Momo Restaurant," "Momo House" and "Funky Salsa," of course.  Ok, that last one was something of a wild card, but wouldn't you also want to check out a restaurant that served a cocktail called the Bikini Nude, made with vodka, lemon juice, bacardi and milk?

In case you don't fully understand yet how huge MomoFest 2011 was - it was live tweeted.  Yup, just like the Oscars.

Round One:
The Location:  Local Momo Restaurant, down a dark, rutted, slightly scary side street.  We heard about this place from the man who sold us our bus tickets.
The Crowd:  A swaying, slurring, incredibly drunk Nepali man dragged his chair over to us, bottle in hand, and starting mumbling about America.  The proprietor looked on, amused.

The Contenders:  Buffalo fried vs. buffalo steamed.  (Veg momos, it turned out, needed 12 hours advance notice).

The victor:  Buffalo fried (left) took it down, 3:1.  The real winner, though, was the dipping sauce.

Round 2:
The Location:  Mo:mo House, an upstairs restaurant on the main drag.

The Crowd:  Mo:mo House was suspiciously empty.  It was just us, the staff and the view into the "7-11 Club" stripclub next door.

The Contenders:  From left to right, steamed chicken, steamed veg, and fried mashed potato and cheese.

The Winner:  Fried mashers and cheese took it, 3:1.  (Dave would like it to be known that he voted for chicken.)

Round 3:
The Location:  Funky Salsa, the Mexican/Italian/Continental/Nepali/Indian restaurant across the street from Mo:mo House.

The Crowd:  Tourists.

The Contenders:  From left to right, steamed veg, steamed chicken, fried veg, fried chicken.
The Winner:  It was unanimous - steamed chicken was the champion, not only of Funky Salsa but of the whole night.

Funky Salsa Steamed Chicken held the gold mo'medal.  But after seven plates (yeah, thats 56 dumplings among the four of us) we held our stomachs, moaning (mo-moaning?), "No mo' momo."  Biggie had it right when he sang it - Mo' Momos Mo' Problems.

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