Posted by: Jeffsayyes | September 19, 2011

Tawa’s Nepali Hut – You can’t beat these momos

Tawa
37-38 72nd St
Jackson Heights, Queens

This is a fantastic little shop. Two shops in one actually. The rear was the existing business from yesteryear which mainly sold various paranthas, but within the past six months, they’ve added a second business selling Nepalese food off the griddle.  Look towards the rear, over the counter, and you’ll see their workforce of older women endlessly, tirefully crafting doughy mixtures with their hands. The smiles from these ladies will make you cry for your grandma, it’s how you wish she was.
How is this not gonna be good??

Anything out of this factory is charming, but the momos are fantastic. Best I’ve had. The chicken curry filling is juicy and herby. The crescent-form wrappers are nearly translucent, but the biggest tease is the smell.  Price? 8 for five dollars.

Look at the griddleman’s table of ready ingredients, and you’ll see the Indian influence on Nepalese cooking. Lots of lentils and potatoes, and other mix-ins you’d find with chaat shops. Here, it became clearer to me how little the cuisine spans the Himalayas to Tibet.

It’s a great place to learn, but while the Nepalese male cook is decent enough at English, if you are stuck with his female ENL (English Not a Language) counterpart, the hovering manager of the entire shop will be more than helpful.

Other items are wayy Nepalese, no more Asian fusion or tippy-toeing ethnicity in Jackson Heights. Here, look at the menu:

On recent trips, I’ve had kathi rolls and qeema baari (chicken over a lentil pancake, sorta. see last picture). Endearing every time. I think I love it.


Links:
Intro to Nepal Food


Responses

  1. Although I’ve never tried kathi rolls or qeema baari, I already think I’d love it, too, just by the photos and your championing this great sounding and looking place.

    It also struck me how much that lovely Nepalese woman in the first photo (the woman sitting down) looks so much like my beloved nuna (grandmother). She was Greek, but still, they could’ve passed for sisters or twins. Know what? Looking at that photo actually had me doing exactly what you wrote – I actually did cry for my grandma.

    Thanks for sharing this, Jeff. Another place I’m definitely going to check out when I get back to New York.

  2. Thanks for the tip! Haven’t been to Tawa yet. Pics look great and I want those chk-curry momos now!

  3. We have wandered past Tawa in Jackson Heights so many times without actually dropping in for a taste. We will take your word on the momos and be sure to give them a try on our first visit.

  4. The old ladies were there before the new Nepalese manager, and I think they are Punjabi or north Indian (hence the fair skin and Persian features). Owner guy is definitely Nepalese though.

    Tawa supplies several Indian grocery stores with fresh paranthas. I took your rec, Jeff, and scoped out the chicken kati roll this weekend ($5). Man was that good! Spicy as hell but good. Herby and sour as well. The Nepalese man is a little non traditional about it. His approach is to take marinating chicken, let it cook on the grill, and then he minces it with his metal spatula on the griddle. Weird. Add to that, fresh onions and peppers, wrapped in an oily pancake-like roti. Amazing.

  5. I really liked the filling of these momos, but I was SO disappointed that they use premade wonton(?) wrappers. You would think that they would use homemade dough…

    • yeah that’s interesting. You’d think with the ladies in the back they’d make fresh wrappers. Oh well, no one’s perfect. No matter, I still love em.

      I wonder if the other nepali places use fresh wrappers.

      • So true. They are still delicious, and I’ll keep eating them.

        Hmm. I wonder.


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