Search Google and you’ll find that a colon doesn’t exist in Nepalese grammar. So what the heck it’s doing in the middle of the Nepalese word for dumpling (also the name of the restaurant) is anybody’s guess. Grammar aside, Mo:Mo’s serves damn fine Nepalese food and does it with a smile, so who would quibble over a punctuation mark?
Our group of four gals arrived on an AFL finals night, so there was a glut of empty tables. All the better for us, as we had the undivided attention of the part owner who was keen to share with us his knowledge of Nepalese cuisine, and to recommend dishes based on our likes.
Naturally we had to start with the iconic Nepalese dish of dumplings, of both the chicken and beef variety. Served with a tangy tomato and ginger chutney, the dumplings were a mellow intro into Nepalese cuisine. I always feel quite virtuous eating these steamed dumplings, as there seems to be so little fat involved that they must be healthy, right? We also ordered the not-so-healthy potato cakes – Aloo Chop – fluffy potatoes with fresh coriander and onions, dusted with besan flour and pan fried. Served with a coriander chutney, these mild potato cakes were pleasant enough without being remarkable.
Although we were urged to try the house specialty of goat curry, none of us were keen to explore that option and went for the eternally popular chicken dishes. The chicken methi curry cooked in cream, was redolent with the dried fenugreek leaves (methi) that give it its unique taste. We loved this dish; the flavours of the spices and the methi worked beautifully together. We mopped it up with roti bread and steamed rice. If you’ve never tried any methi dishes (also popular in Indian cuisine), this is a great introduction to the subtle burnt caramel/maple flavour it brings to food.
Not to be outdone by a chicken curry, we wanted to try Mo:Mo’s version of BBQ chicken. The kukhura poleko comprised pieces of chicken thighs, marinated in fresh coriander, parsley, garlic and ginger, and char grilled to succulent perfection. The herby zing of the marinade and the smokey char grilled edges, resulted in an intensely satisfying, delicious dish. This is probably the Nepalese equivalent of Indian tandoori food, but it couldn’t be more different in taste. Whereas tandoori dishes rely on heavy spicing and yoghurt-based marinades, this is all about the herbs.
To get our healthy dose of veggies we opted for the Cauli Aloo; a mix of cauliflower and potatoes in a mildly spiced tomato, garlic and ginger sauce. It’s impossible not to love cauliflower and potatoes in a curry if the sauce is good, and Mo:Mo’s version rose to the occasion.
The desserts sounded very similar to the Indian ones we are so familiar with, and we were curious to discover if there were any discernible differences. Indeed there were. Whilst Indian desserts are generally super sweet, these used much less sugar. In fact my khir – slow cooked rice in milk and with cardamon – although lush and creamy, lacked depth because of the small amount of sugar. When you’re eating a rice dessert, you need a decent amount of sweetener to balance it out and lift those starchy carbs.
Frau K liked the sound of the carrot pudding (I forgot to get a photo), but as with my khir, the pudding was suffering from a lack of sugar. I’ve tried many versions of carrot pudding/halwa including my own made with condensed milk (now that’s a serious sugar load), but sadly this was the blandest yet.
The Prof won out with her dish of saffron yoghurt with lal mohan. The vibrant yellow of the saffron yoghurt made this dish pop, and underneath all that creamy smoothness lay the lal mohan – the Nepalese version of the Indian gulab jamun. There was no scrimping on the sugar in this dish – those dense little lal mohan balls wallowing in sugar syrup were the perfect foil for the slight acidity of the “hung” yoghurt; we all concurred that this dessert was the standout.
I’ve dined at other Nepalese restaurants and at times haven’t found much difference between Nepalese and Indian cuisines. At Mo:Mo’s however the distinction was made clear, and it was interesting and enjoyable to sample what we felt was authentic Nepalese food. Our congenial host assured us that they stick to their food origins and reproduce the food that they grew up with in Nepal. Our experience was positive and we would have loved to sample a few more dishes if only we could fit them in. It’s pity about the desserts as we all felt that each one could be sensational if made a bit sweeter. We were told by our lovely host that “these aren’t the same as Indian desserts”, so maybe Mo:Mo’s is keen to highlight the differences in not just the savoury, but the sweet dishes as well. In any event, it’s really not always about desserts, and the delicious range of savoury food is enough to compensate.
This cosy suburban restaurant has many things going for it, and once again proves that you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a good meal. You can BYO alcohol, sample a range of dishes, and enjoy the hospitality of the staff. Mo:Mo’s is also in the Entertainment Book, although we really didn’t need the discount as we felt the food was reasonably priced anyway. If you’re a newbie to Nepalese cuisine Mo:Mo’s is the perfect introduction for you.