Inching Back To The Norm At The North

Yesterday it was a brisk but bright day in Columbus. The B.A. Jersey Girl and I both had a hankering for some Momo Ghar dumplings and their killer sauce, so we decided to brave the stiff fall breeze and hike up to the North Market for lunch. It’s the first time we’ve been there since some distant time in the P.P. (Pre-Pandemic) Period.

I’m pleased to report that the North Market was bustling when we got there and decked out in its holiday finery. There were lots of shoppers downstairs, and diners like us looking for our lunches, and when we had purchased our dumplings and went upstairs to eat most of the tables in the large dining area were occupied. We grabbed one of the few open tables and proceeded to dig into our dumplings (which were exceptionally delicious, as always) and enjoy our lunch. Even when we left at about 1 p.m., and I snapped the above photo, there were still latecomers upstairs eating and lingering at their tables, and some shoppers downstairs, too.

I wouldn’t say the North Market is back to its normal, P.P. traffic and trade–yet–but I was heartened by the cars in the parking lot and the number of customers in the building. Of course, we wore masks when we were downstairs buying our lunch, in compliance with the order issued by Columbus’ mayor, but it was still great to see so many people out and about–Delta, Omicron, or other COVID-19 variants be damned. The North Market is a civic treasure and its businesses, like other Columbus small businesses, deserve our support. Yesterday’s experience suggests that other people share that feeling.

We’re gradually getting closer to the P.P. normal. And as more people get out and get back to their old habits like going to the North Market for lunch–and rediscover delights like Momo Ghar dumplings–the trend will grow stronger. It has been, and will be, a prolonged process, but we’re definitely getting closer.

Momo Ghar

Fruitful experience has taught me that Dr. Science knows all the best food places.  So when he suggested that we drive up to Morse Road yesterday, to try a place that serves authentic cuisine of Nepal and Tibet, I went along willingly.  And that’s how I discovered Momo Ghar, which promptly vaulted into my top 10 restaurants of Columbus list.

First, a word about the setting.  Momo Ghar is located in one of the endless number of strip malls on Morse Road, inside the Saraga international grocery store.  Momo Ghar is one of several independent food venues in the store, tucked into a tiny space back by the fresh fish section.  If you want to eat there, you need to arrive early or late, because there are only five or so counter seats and two tables.  Dr. Science and I got there a little after 1 p.m. and waited for a minute or two before seats at the counter opened up.

Momo Ghar’s menu is focused on dumplings, which are either served doused in sauce, as shown above, or on a platter with sauce for dipping.  The dumplings are steamed using contraptions on the stove, while the sauce merrily bubbles and simmers in the large pot located to the left of the cook in the photo above.  The proprietress said she makes the sauce every day.

We got three orders of dumplings — pork, chicken, and potato — and while we waited for them to steam up we gladly sat at the counter, taking in the sights and smells.  Three orders is a lot of food for two people, but Dr. Science was confident we could polish it off, and of course he was right.  We ate with greedy abandon and barely avoiding skewering each other with our forks as we shoveled the dumplings onto our plates.  The dumplings are fabulous — moist, savory, and delectable — but the sauce is a stone-cold killer that has to be tasted to be believed.  I’m not sure what’s in it, but it is an explosive combination of heat and flavor that bursts in your mouth like Fourth of July fireworks.  My heartfelt advice to anyone who goes to Momo Ghar is: for heaven’s sake, don’t scrimp on the sauce!

This food was spectacular, so I wasn’t surprised when Dr. Science said as we left that Momo Ghar has one of the highest Yelp ratings of any restaurant in Columbus.  And this morning I learned even better news — Momo Ghar is supposed to be opening up in the North Market some time this fall, within easy walking distance from the office.  Until then, I’ll be looking forward to introducing my office mates to the wonders of that fabulous sauce.