Luke Skywalker’s father was that angsty guy with the chic all-black outfit. And if you play Pink Floyd’s “Empty Spaces” backwards, you’ll hear, “Congratulations. You have just discovered the secret message.” Maybe you know about these things, and maybe you didn’t before right now. Either way, they’re pretty well-known “secrets” you should probably be aware of, and Lhasa Fast Food is another.
Lhasa Fast Food is a tiny restaurant hidden behind a cell phone store on a busy stretch of 74th Street in Jackson Heights. But despite the limited signage out front, it’s pretty much always crowded. And that’s because it serves some very good Tibetan food.
To get here, you enter the one-story building at 37-50 74th Street, take an immediate right, then walk down a narrow, florescent-lit hallway. At the end, you’ll find a little room with orange walls, a dresser that functions as a beverage station, and a little kitchen in the back. There are also exactly five tables, and if you want to claim one, you’ll probably have to wait 10 minutes or so.
The menu is about 20 items long, and the momos are the clear standouts. The chicken momos are always a good choice, but the ones stuffed with coarsely chopped beef are even better, and the beef and chive variety are some of the best dumplings you’ll find in the entire neighborhood (which is a significant accomplishment). You want some of those, and at least one noodle or soup dish, like the cold beef noodles with crunchy bits of carrot and cabbage or the beef thenthuk with chunks of hand-ripped noodles that melt on contact with your mouth. And if you want to make any of these already-excellent things even better, add the housemade hot sauce (in squeeze bottles on every table).
Yes, this place is located at the back of what’s essentially a strip mall, but it’s not exactly an undiscovered gem. People know about Lhasa Fast Food, because it’s a great spot for a quick sit-down meal that probably won’t cost more than $20. If you didn’t know about it until today, you should stop by for some momos in the very near future. Consider this place essential knowledge - like the fact that Darth Vader used to be a podracer with a pretty nice bowl cut. And if you haven’t seen Star Wars yet, we apologize for all the spoilers.
Ten times out of ten, we’ll have these on our table - and most other people here will probably be eating them as well. Take this as a sign that you too should become the proud owner of eight beef momos, and be sure to use the hot sauce you’ll find on every table.
There are a lot of places serving momos in Jackson Heights, but you won’t find many dumplings of the beef and chive variety. That’s reason enough to get an order of these - and if you need another reason, they also happen to be excellent.
If you don’t eat red meat, or if you came here with a few other people and you want a variety of momos on your table, get these chicken momos. They aren’t quite as exciting as the beef ones, but they’re still very good.
Our favorite noodle dish at Lhasa Fast Food. These cold beef noodles are chewy and just a little bit spicy, with added texture from some thinly sliced vegetables. Split an order with someone.
There’s nothing wrong with this chow mein, but there’s a better version across the street at Phayul. Get the cold beef noodles instead.
Did you have a long day? Is it cold outside? Or do you just really like soup? Get some of this thenthuk with beefy broth and plenty of pieces of ripped up hand-pulled noodles.
This is a plate of thick, gummy noodles wrapped around little pieces of bread. In terms of flavor, they don’t have a whole lot going on, but we like the spice and texture. If you’re trying to decide between this and more momos, though, we suggest more momos.