Ever tried a Nepalese dumpling? They’re called momos, and you can find some of the best pudgy little pork pockets on the Northern Beaches at Momo Bar Manly. Seems simple, right? Wrong. This little Market Lane kitchen is also doing poke bowls. Yes, the Hawaiian fish salad. Stay with us, because somehow Nepalese-Japanese-Hawaiian-via-the-Northern Beaches works an absolute treat.
Locals know it – a small queue snakes out of the shop front and virtually every table is taken up on a Friday lunch time. What looks like a simple salad bar (only with the heaving patronage of a trending cafe) is in fact hiding a bounty worth queuing for. That queue isn’t swift but it’s easy to see why. Even though the menu hinges on two dishes – poke and momos – the combinations for each are countless. You pick your protein (salmon, king fish, tuna or tofu) base (cabbage, brown rice, or half and half), and five toppings – go wild with shredded nori, jalapeños, pickled ginger, radish and avo (they don’t even charge extra for nature’s butter).
‘Instagramable’ food is often all style and no substance, but your bowl here is the antidote to every bullshit rainbow bagel. Bright green edamame, violet cabbage, soft hunks of ultra fresh salmon and shreds of orange carrot come topped with sweet toasted sesame dressing and fried shallots for crunch. It’s nourishing, fresh and filling, and maybe the best poke bowl we’ve had in Sydney.
It’s a 37 hours flight from Honolulu to Kathmandu, but here you’re jumping from island vibes to Himalayan comfort food in a Vin Diesel-approved culinary handbrake turn. The dumplings come filled with pork, chicken, lamb, lentils or veggies. 'Manly style' means they come with a slosh of yoghurt, paprika and warming, soupy chicken broth. The dumpling skin is thin but sturdy enough to hold a generous nub of juicy lamb, which is complemented by the garlicky yogurt.The single thing we’re missing is a big spoon to capture the momo’s broth when it’s pierced, but it's added to the bowl of broth that remains, spiked with the rich paprika butter.
Don’t turn your nose up at the lentil dumplings. The texture of the little dotty legumes may be unusual in a dumpling, but they are hearty and earthy, and as a bonus for plant-based eaters they make them vegan too.
Sure, Nepalese dumplings and poke is a surprising combo, but we swear it's a trans-seasonal winner. Everyone loves to jump on an Instaworthy bandwagon before you can say unicorn latte – but Momo is a true tasty unicorn – rare, colourful and magical, making it well worth a venture to sunny Manly.