There’s a saying “we are what we eat”. I’m not sure whether I’d like to be identified as a momo or not, yet those dumplings are sure to make it to the list of my favourite foods. Now a predominantly Tibetan delicacy, momos have been a staple food for the people in the northern hilly region of this state. And bongs, who are sure to visit Darjeeling a no. of times (with their monkey caps & woolen socks), would gobble these up in no time. I don’t know when exactly these dumplings climbed down the mountains & made their way into the food stalls of Kolkata, but in my opinion are the most popular street food nowadays just behind egg rolls & fuchkas. Sure there are a no. of dedicated momo outlets & stalls throughout the city (don’t dare forget bapida or the one in front of academy), very few are actually headed by people from the hills. One such outlet specializing in momos made with traditional home recipe from the hills is Momo I Am. Their south Kolkata branch is a huge hit & a go to destination for momo lovers. Recently they’ve opened their second outlet at China Park, & invited our group PanchPhoron to try some of the dishes. The small eatery is o few hundred meters from the crossing ( walk towards VIP road, outlet is on left). The place is small, with wood plank tables inside. The eatery can accommodate around 25 people. The inside is done in bright colours, complete with graffiti & quirky posters. As for the food they serve, it’s a cross between the Tibetan & Oriental styles, with some ingenious touches. We tried a few items, which sure impressed us.
Mocktails / Beverages:
Even before I go into the description of taste, I really hated the idea of serving the drinks in aluminium mugs. Maybe some hot soup served in a roadside stall in the hills during the cold adds to the charm, it doesn’t really add anything when we are eating in an air-conditioned restaurant. Hopefully they’ll start serving them in regular glass tumblers.
Might be the name is connected to Django. The ingredients however being pineapple & orange juice with muddled mint & lemon wedges, the drink was a mix of sweet & sour.
Cucumber & lemon juice mixed with cranberry & orange juice muddled with some coriander roots. The coriander roots are said to have health benefits, I find their addition in my drink not so lovely to look at. However the overall the drink was quite sweet.
I’m highly doubtful this one has a double meaning. The drink itself was cranberry & pineapple juice mixed with basil, lemongrass & lemon. The lemongrass gives it a subtle Thai flavour while the rest gives it the sweet tang which was appreciated.
As I said the appearance of the mocktails wasn’t quite appreciated by me, & I missed the fizz , I was looking forward to the food they had prepared for us.
When you have momo in your name, your momos better be good. & boy they were! Unlike other places, Momo I Am serves the momos in a quite unique way. Each dumpling is separately placed inside ceramic soup spoons. The momos actually sit on a bed of spiced mashed potatoes. As far as the momos are concerned, the ingredients are finely minced, put inside the thin dough, first steamed then lightly pan-fried in in-house chili oil with spring onions. The momos are then topped with a dollop of schezwan mayo. The chicken & pork momos were absolutely delicious, no iota of complaint there. What surprised me was that the veg one was equally good, not laden with excessive cabbage, rather having copious amount of onion & spices to make up for the absence of meat. You just have to try these hangover momos out. Surely you’ll love them.
These are a very popular Tibetan dish, however it was the first time i was having this (somehow I’ve missed this item in all my previous visit to Tibetan eateries). Basically a stuffed flat bread where minced meat along with wine, sesame oil, onions & garlics are used as the filling. The bread is then fried like a paratha, a bit more to give it a crispier texture. The stuffing had some amazing flavours, which will take me back to this place again & again.
Mini Bao (pork/chicken/fish):
The closest thing to the bao would be baby naan or kulchas. But that’s the bread. It’s served in the style of tacos. All the baos contain some lettuce & crushed nuts. However each one has a different sauce in it. The chicken is fried till it’s crisp then mixed with some teriyaki sauce, the crispy fish is mixed with tartar sauce while the pork gets some plum sauce & mayo. The chicken & pork baos were mostly sweet, while the fish one had somewhat tangy spiciness. In any case all the variants were immensely enjoyable. I personally liked the fish & pork ones over the chicken. They have regular sized baos as well, order that if you are looking for a full meal.
Japanese Panko Crumbed Prawn:
This one needs a special mention. I have had Panko fried prawns at other reputed joints of the city. To say the truth didn’t really expect this humble joint can give those expensive ones a run for their money. The crispy thin batter & the juicy prawn inside were hell of a combination, served with two variants of mayo dips. It was perfect, it was highly enjoyable.
Japanese Panko Fried Fish:
Similar to the prawn ones, these too had a thin crispy batter coating, while beneath it was hiding succulent juicy strips of fish. The chef surely deserves a hats off for preparing these two dishes.
Marinated Fried Pork:
When we have pork at any regular restaurant, the pieces are either fibrous or fatty. Here, however, the marinated meat was diced & mixed with pork fat & then pan-fried in soy sauce along with bell peppers & spring onions. The quantity is more than sufficient. The taste brilliant.
Bangkok street noodle soup ( chicken ):
Another huge surprise. A complete soup meal in a bowl. Cooked pad thai noodles were immersed in a soup. The soup had coconut milk as its base, while kaffir lime, galangal, red curry paste & coriander added to its flavour & aroma. The other ingredients were shredded chicken, babycorn & broccoli. The soup was topped off with a poached egg. The whole affair was just too good. In fact, one of my friend, who has been to Bangkok multiple times appreciated the dish highly. What I felt, the soup can be made a little bit spicier & more Bangkok styled by adding a few drops of chili fish oil my be. But that’s a personal opinion. Even without adding anything, the whole thing was marvellous.
In appearance it’s nothing like a momo. In fact it actually isn’t. It’s more like a bun, a croissant shaped liked a momo. There’s no filling whatsoever, however they re-brushed with sugar syrup, to give it a mild sweet note. I loved these small buns. I’d like to buy them in dozens if they start selling it pre-packaged. The buns were accompanied by a small bowl of clear soups & choice of chicken / pork shyapta. In reality the shyaptas are a dense gravy with sliced meat & onions & bell peppers. The buns with the shyaptas tasted great, though I loved having them separately as well.
Momo I Am turned out to be a surprisingly good place to have momos. Not only momos, their expertise in preparing Bangkok Street style noodles amazed me too. Honestly didn’t expect them to be this good. They trumped my expectations. I am adding Momo I Am to the list of Tibetan places to try out in the city (though any other can hardly compete with Momo I Am with its variety & pocket friendly prices). Hopefully they’ll continue serving these great tasting dishes. Waiting for them to open up more outlets throughout the city, cause people need to visit them badly, at least once, for all the items I tried.
Until then happy eating,