The little-known Himalayan snack continues its rise in Queens with the opening of Tibetan Dumpling Café, a new brick-and-mortar restaurant in Sunnyside. There are at least 20 momo sellers in the area, but the steamed treats still do not have the name recognition of other popular street foods like shawarma or soup dumplings.
By Eli Rosenberg | New York Daily News
ON THE WEB, 28 August 2014
These humble dumplings are on the verge of having a momo-ment.
The little-known momo dumpling continues its rise in Queens with the opening of a new brick-and-mortar restaurant dedicated to the Himalayan snack in Sunnyside.
Tibetan Dumpling Café owner and chef Tashi Chopel said he opted for the Queens Blvd location near 50th St to reach many of Queens’ diverse populations.
“Now this neighbourhood is very good,” said Chopel, 37, a former Buddhist monk who fled Tibet in 2002 and entered the US in 2003.
The first-time restaurateur, who used to live in Sunnyside before moving to Elmhurst, worked odd jobs in gas stations and laundromats to save the $80,000 needed to open his eatery.
“I’ve been working very hard for this,” he said. “My dream is very big.”
So are his ambitions.
There are at least 20 momo sellers, including four street vendors, near the transportation nexus at Broadway and Roosevelt Ave, according to Jeff Orlick, who leads tasting tours around Queens.
But momos still do not have the name recognition of other popular street foods like shawarma or soup dumplings.
Chopel wants to bring the obscure food to a wider audience beyond the city’s 7,000 Tibetans.
“It’s not only for Tibetan people,” said Chopel, who learned how to cook the steamed treats from his mom. “I want each and everybody to know about my dumplings.”
The restaurant will sell momos stuffed with beef, chicken and vegetables, as well as a chef’s special that will change regularly.
The 30-seat store will also serve traditional Tibetan food like thali, a platter with curried meat, rice, vegetables, yogurt and pickles, and thenthuk, a soup with hand-pulled noodles.
“A lot of people think the dumpling comes from Chinese food,” Chopel said. “But Tibet has the best dumplings — a special dumpling.”