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Sandy Noto

The Momo World

Written by
Sandy Noto

Ask a parent which kid is their favorite, and unless they’re a psychopath, they know the acceptable response is that they don’t have one. We never trusted that line as kids, but after visiting The Momo World in University Village, we now know what it’s like to love everything equally. In fact, when it comes to the food at this small counter-service Nepali restaurant, our favorite is whatever’s in front of us at the moment, convincing us it’s the most important thing on the table.

See the full list of Chicago’s Best Restaurants Of 2019.

While we can’t imagine our lives without the entire menu here, the delicious, spicy momos are like the kid who always carries the groceries, asks us about our day, and fills up the tank before returning the car. These are (in a not shocking plot twist) The Momo World’s specialty. And they’re all great, whether you go with the simple steamed dumplings filled with chicken, pork, or vegetables, or the jhol, with the same steamed variety in a tomato soup. We also love the sadeko momo, pan-fried and covered in a thick sesame sauce. Some are more fusion-y, like the excellent tandoori or chaat momos, and there are always a few daily specials worth getting. Whatever you choose will be spicy and perfectly chewy, and you’ll want to give it your undivided attention.

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After you’ve eaten your way out of your fortress of dumplings, you can shift your focus to the many great non-momo options, which all deserve love too. The spicy aloo cauliflower with potatoes and peas stands out, as well as the must-order pork chili - a slightly sweet mixture of meat and peppers in a thick chili sauce. And while the chalkboard menu is long and can feel overwhelming, there’s really no wrong move there, either. The only wrong move is accidentally leaving your leftovers in the backseat of a taxi on your way home.

When it comes to the affordable, delicious food at The Momo World, the dumplings are a little like the oldest child. Since they’re what you experience first, you’ll love them just a little bit longer - but not more - than everything that follows. You can’t pick a favorite. And you don’t have to.

Food Rundown

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Steamed Momo

These are the most straightforward momos: steamed and spicy, with a choice of ground chicken, pork, vegetables, or paneer. The dumpling wrappers are thick (in a good way), and the tomato and sesame dipping sauces add even more flavor and heat. We love these momos as much as we love the jhol ones.

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Jhol Momo

These steamed momos come in a thin and spicy tomato-based soup. The thick wrappers are able to sit in the broth without disintegrating, and the whole dish feels like the perfect antidote to a Chicago winter. Or at least as perfect as the sadeko momos.

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Sadeko Momo

We said we didn’t have a favorite, but this might actually be our favorite. The fried momos, covered in a thick and spicy sesame sauce, somehow manage to stay crispy under the gravy.

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Momo Chaat

On second thought, this is our favorite. The fried momos sit in a creamy tomato-based soup with vegetables, rice crackers, sev, and dollops of yogurt that cool everything down. If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is. And it’s wonderful. As wonderful as the Tandoori, that is.

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Tandoori Momo

These colorful momos are the most noticeable of the dumplings. The steamed-then-fried wrapper has a great chewy texture, and the smoky tandoori goes well with any of the fillings. We’re also really into both the tamarind and cilantro dipping sauces.

Pork Chili

The “bowl” section of the menu is anything that comes with rice and bread, and out of all the bowls, the pork chili is the most delicious, thanks to the slightly sweet chili sauce covering everything.

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Aloo Cauliflower And Peas

We lied. This is the best of the non-momo dishes. It’s a stew made with cauliflower, peas, potatoes, and Szechuan peppers, served with rice and roti. It’s also incredibly spicy, just in case you want to have your ass kicked by some cauliflower.

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The sekuwa is your choice of marinated meat (chicken or pork), paneer, peppers, and onions. Mix it with basmati rice or make little wraps out of it with roti. Either method is the very best.

Himalayan Biryani

If you like big piles of masala rice, get an order of biryani with either chicken, paneer, or pork. It’s very tasty, but probably not necessary if you get any of the other dishes with basmati. (Does this make us a bad parent?)

Chicken Masala

This is one thing we’ll tell you to go ahead and skip. It’s not bad, it’s just a little boring compared to all the complex flavors and spices found in the other dishes. But then again, if we had to pick a kid to sit next to on an airplane, it would be this one.

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