Shop 25, Tivoli Arcade
235-251 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 431 052 014
Nepalese cuisine is something that I’ve only just discovered. Apart from eating half a bowl of aalu tarkari (potato curry) courtesy of a Nepalese colleague during a work morning tea, I’m not too familiar with the cuisine of the small country up in the Himalaya. I’ve been told that Nepalese food is a milder version of Indian food with small bouts of Chinese influence, but whether that’s true… I don’t know. What I DO know is the Nepalese they make some terrific dumplings. The Nepalese momo, brought over by the Tibetians, is a dish that has satisfied sherpas on the run for many decades now – think of it as the Nepalese equivalent of Maccas, but with less additives. Although they are available (at the cost of an arm and one of Jessica Hart’s legs) at Nepalese restaurants such as Ghurka’s on Flinders Street and its sister restaurants, a place that specialised in momo did not exist. Until now.
Arriving on platform 1 a few months ago was Momo Station, a modest cafe that is run by said colleague’s friend. Before I go on though, let me say that my review is in no way influenced by the fact that it belongs to a friend of a friend – and that goes with other reviews too. Anyway, it’s a cafe that attracts a steady stream of diners during the day, mostly students who have just finished class at RMIT’s business campus nearby or Nepalese workers who have trekked all the way from the other end of the city.
The staple dish at Momo Station seems to be the chicken momo ($7.50) and if you think are similar to Chinese dumplings, you’re not wrong. What makes the momo stand out on its own, however, is the coriander and cumin that goes into the chicken mince filling to give it an uplifting taste. Its distinctive flavour also means that people can never call the momo a wannabe jiaozi. A small bowl filled with simple chicken broth and dollops of home-made tomato chutney and store-bought chilli sauce completed the meal. I should also add here that eight pieces for $7.50 is a bargain in Melbourne when you consider the fact that you only get half the amount by paying the same price at other Nepalese restaurants.
The beef momo ($6.50) also came with the chicken broth, chutney and chilli (actually, they all do except for the vegetarian momo). Pleated like a har gow rather than in a twist, the beef filling was pretty good – probably a tad sweeter than the chicken – but I preferred the chicken ones.
For an extra 50 cents, you can request your momo to be pan-fried. My advice is to stick to steamed momo though – not only were the skins soggy and oily rather than crispy, the delicate fillings were drowned out when the skins were fried.
For all you herbivores, a vegetarian version is available ($6.50). The fillings were a mixture of carrots, potatoes and greens held together by an egg mixture and lots of coriander. They were okay but not something that I’d rush to order again. The fact that we got like, four pieces of sliced cucumber and three pieces of carrot when meat-eaters were given soup (which, to me, seemed more generous) made me feel like I got heebed.
You can also order ‘proper’ meals ranging from noodle soups to chow meins, both of which seemed popular with fellow diners. As for me, I’ll stick to the chicken momo, thanks.
Chicken momo, here we are… one magical moment.