Thursday, 1 March 2012

Momo, Gloucester Green

The disappointment of the great dim sum debacle has left me all the more keen to find some decent dumplings. Oxford does boast a couple of restaurants that claim to do proper dim sum but, before I'd got round to going, a friend told me about a mysterious 'Chinese dumplings van' that used to be found at Gloucester Green market on certain days. Further investigations and some on-the-spot research revealed the truth: the dumplings - 'momos' - are actually Tibetan and Nepalese-style, and the van of the same name appears on market day - Wednesday.


Street food, or a slightly gentrified version of it, is a major foodie trend in London at the moment: grimy stripped-down surroundings and long queues are all the rage. Still, as we waited to be served from what looks like a burger van, surrounded by market stalls selling watch batteries and cheap carpets, and with the cries of fruit and vegetable salesfolk ringing in our ears (in central Oxford it's hard to get much more gritty and urban than that), it felt as if Momo's channelling of the zeitgeist was probably accidental.

Momos are traditionally filled with yak meat. At least one reason why is purely practical: according to this article, the karmic load that results when you slaughter a yak is the same as for a smaller animal, so you might as well kill something from which you'll get plenty of eating. Given the amount of attention Oxford has attracted from animal rights activists, it's probably fortunate that Momo merely offers a choice of chicken, pork and vegetable dumplings. £4 will buy you a styrofoam box of ten, drizzled with Nepalese chutney or a sauce that comes in 'mild' or 'hot' flavours. They also serve fried (meat or vegetable) basmati rice for £3.


I'd actually recommend you ask for five momos and a half portion of rice. The dumplings are steamed, so they aren't greasy at all. The outside is just the right side of stodgy and the filling is light and tasty (if you bite into one you can see its chopped component parts), but a whole boxful will sit rather heavily in the stomach all afternoon. The rice is clearly more than your standard restaurant 'special rice', with plenty of fresh vegetables and thick chunks of bacon, but mine was surprisingly underseasoned - it needed dumplings and sauce to make it palatable.

 Momo has its flaws - you will have to queue, for a start. On my first visit, they couldn't keep pace with the demand and even after a fifteen-minute wait pork dumplings weren't to be had; the second time, although the staff were wielding high tech steam thermometers to check the cooking temperature, my companions felt that their momos weren't mouth-searingly hot enough. But that's street food for you. Street food Oxford-style, anyway.



(according to the banner on the van, their website is steammomo.com, but I can't find it)


8/10

5 comments:

  1. ...................also now available on Thursday's Market

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  2. Food Poisoning Warning3 April 2014 at 09:24

    Had some thing from this Van, was quite ill afterwards and they were very greasy.
    Definitely one to avoid

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  3. very delicious and tasty compared with others...Just £3.50, you won't get that cheap anywhere else in oxford.

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  4. Best momo and fried rice ever had. Freshly cooked, no oily like other Chinese and Japanese. Oh ya, the sause is the best I ever had in my life. Must try.

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