Full disclosure. I had no idea what a “momo” was, other than some kind of flying lemur from the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender”. Turns out that it is also the word that Nepalese, Tibetans, and Indians use to call dumplings.
“Chinese Mirch” has a restaurant on Lexington Avenue in Midtown, among other places across the US. They also have a roving food truck that made a stop near me recently, which specialized in their handmade momo’s. This bright red and peach colored truck attracted me with its siren call of steamed buns with meat in them, and I had to give them a try.
The truck offers a variety of dumplings and buns, as well as combos with the addition of rice and more sauce. I am just doing the momo’s straight up in this review, because that’s how I roll. Carbs be damned! Despite not having a large selection of items to choose from, these handmade beauties offer a wide variety of tastes for both carnivores and misguided vegetarians.
The all-natural chicken momo’s ($6 for 5) were moist and delicious, filled with some scallions to add more crunch to them. The wrapper on these momo’s is very thin with a slight chew to them, but they hold up well (as opposed to other wrappers that I have found become soggy or just tear apart easily).
The lamb momo’s ($7 for 5) sport a yellowish wrapper instead of the more tan color of the chicken ones (just for reference, their vegetarian ones also come in a lovely shade of green). I love how the caramelization looks on their underside and adds a welcome crunch to the texture of these momo’s. The lamb was juicy, just like the chicken, and I may have liked these a bit more than the chicken ones (not that either was bad).
All of the dumplings come with a wonderfully spicy dipping sauce, possibly Sriracha. At first hit, it burns, then it’s sweet with a sting, and then once your tongue melts a bit, you get the full-bodied flavor of it. Even if you don’t like a bit of heat (or a lot of heat), give the dipping sauce a dip.
Lastly, I had to try their Sweet mini buns for dessert! These treats (which cost around $3 for 4) are made with a tasty vanilla & bean paste filling, and come with a vanilla dipping sauce to moisten these buns. Thicker than the momo’s we tried, these are more along the lines of a steamed Chinese bun.
Here is a close-up of the filling so you can see its fluorescent glow with your own eyes. Starchy and subtly sweet, these spongy buns were a great finish to this meal, and the vanilla sauce really lightens them up. You can not go to this truck without ending with these buns.
I had read a few reviews on Yelp after writing this review, and was shocked to see such low ratings (a reminder that meta-rankings do not always equate critical acclaim or dislike). It seems most of the complaints were due to portion size (depending on how hungry the reviewer was in most cases), or that there was a lack of bigger and more robust flavors. While I could see that last critique, nowhere on the menu does it say these momos are filled with masala or curries or whatever else – these are just dumplings with dipping sauces, and as far as I am concerned, they are very successful at what they offer.
The “Chinese Mirch” truck was pretty great, and reasonably priced for high-quality dumplings. Could you go to a small Chinese place and get dumplings for cheaper? Possibly, but they will not taste as fresh and flavorful as these did. Your stomach will thank you for spending the extra dough on these momo’s. Plus, you get to order a word as fun as “momo”, so give them a try today.
You can follow where the “Chinese Mirch” truck is going on their website, as well as learn about their store locations in New York, New jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Future locations are planned for California, Texas, and Virginia.