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Hungry eye – Momotarou

Monday, February 28th, 2011
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If you know Jhamel, you’ll know Singma, the no-frills Singaporean-Malaysian eatery that’s now branched out into Bhatbhateni. And if you’ve exhausted that menu, head to its companion venue Momotarou, near Sanepa Chok. Itself a branch of an original in Thamel, Momotarou draws you with fairy lights past the chilly outdoor seating into a solidly residential building with an unpromising tube-lit interior. But never fear: as you warm up with some Japanese tea and a heater, the thumbnail menu will open up the possibilities.

The combination of Japanese, Chinese and Tharu cuisines may seem odd; the fact that the Tharu owner spent some time in Japan and opened Momotarou with Tharu employees from his own district goes some way to explaining this. Chances are you won’t combine the two in one sitting anyway. Our token attempt will be improved on in future sessions.

Faced with an array of Tharu thalis (chichar, poka and dhikari), we ordered the Haas ko Timura (below right). No prizes for guessing this is duck seasoned generously with timur. A bit bony, we thought, but tasty …this ain’t the land of the lardy Beijing Duck. haas ko timuraAnd so we moved on to the meat of the menu (Statutory warning: the following dishes were not consumed in a single sitting).

The Donburi dishes come highly recommended if you like your cheap eats hearty. For less than Rs 300, then, take your pick of a meal-in-a-bowl, with rice topped with the seasoned meat, veg and egg of your desire. My favourite has to be the Mabo Don: rice with mince pork and tofu. We steered clear of the sushi, as we didn’t fancy the mostly vegetarian offerings and tuna out of a can wrapped in fancy seaweed, but couldn’t resist a brace of udon soups. sukiyakiThe Suki Yaki (left) with raw egg on the side was humongous, with beef, greens, and tofu delicious in a sweetish broth. The Nabe Yaki (below right), with prawn tempura, mushrooms, and fried egg, looked promising but fell flat in a dull stock.

The Tofu Ankhake – tofu topped with mince chicken – looked pallid relative to its menu avatar, but lived up to its billing, while a variety of cold veggie pickles kept usnabeyakioccupied in between mains and cups of tea. We didn’t venture all that much into the Chinese menu dominated by glutinous looking splats, and the Takana to Butaniku Ankake slush of spinach and chunks of meat was, in sated retrospect, mediocre.

Momotarou will win no Michelins, but it’s sure to draw the masses for its pitch perfect presentation of price, taste, and variety. It’s too close to my sluggish kitchen for me to keep away.

From Sanepa Chowk, head towards Gyanodaya Bal Batika and screech to a halt halfway on the right.

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