Nearly everything about Momo Dumplings is unexpected, beginning with the fact that it serves Nepalese food in Meridian. Though an employee referred to it as "the McDonalds of the Himalayas," it's about as conceptually distant from McDonalds as Nepal is geographically distant from Meridian.
Then there is the restaurant's physical space. Located in a generic strip mall just off Eagle Road, Momo has big windows, brightly colored plastic furniture and steam tables heaped with ingredients for you to choose from, all of which scream, "chain." But it's not a franchise. Momo's is locally owned and everything it serves is made on-site.
Apparently, this crazy scheme is working like gangbusters. During a recent lunchtime visit, the place was packed as hungry hordes chowed down on strange delights.
Momo offers three kinds of steamed dumplings--pork, turkey and vegetarian--and a variety of rice bowls that are topped with black-eyed peas, turkey meatballs, ground turkey or chicken chili, then garnished with cilantro, yogurt and curry sauce. There are also fresh-made spiced potato samosas. And most of the items can be mixed and matched as you like.
The menu even offers the Combo Confession ($7.29), a half rice bowl and half order of dumplings on a single plate--pretty much one of everything--which is easily the best bargain in the place.
The flavors are bold and bright, making heavy use of cumin, coriander and turmeric. Fans of Indian food will find similarities, especially in the sauces ladled over the dumplings. The tomato-based sauces--served medium or very spicy--are richly flavorful, but with their own distinct flavors from the regional spice palette.
And unlike the searing pain common with spicy food, Himalayan heat remains smooth while still bringing the thunder.
The one disappointment--other than not being directly outside Boise Weekly so we can eat there daily--is that for all its traditional cuisine, Momo only serves Coke products. Apparently being the McDonalds of the Himalayas in Idaho means you still have to give a shoutout to the OG McDs.
But location and fountain drinks aside, Momo leaves little to be desired. It's fast, cheap, delicious--even for vegetarians--and different. Stop by and let your tongue reach enlightenment.