A true-blue foodie would agree that the tastiest of cuisines are often hidden in the shabbiest of corners. We recently uncovered yet another hidden gem, this time in the heart of Karama (Dubai), a block or so behind West Zone Supermarket. This is Real Momos, a tiny little restaurant the size of a cafeteria you’d honk down for tea at.
The cafeteria/restaurant can be spotted a block away thanks to its bright yellow signage. The interiors are sparsely decorated, and have three small tables with makeshift chairs.
In another corner, by the door of the kitchen sits Mr. Charan Kanwal Jit Singh, the very congenial turbaned owner hailing from Jaipur, India. Mr. Singh has only been in Dubai for the past 2 years. He ran a successful Chinese restaurant in his native town, and decided to pack up and move here along with his entire entourage of staff and chefs.
This special group included the restaurant’s manager, Mr. Sarvesh Pandey, who has known Mr. Singh since he was a mere school boy and went to school with Mr. Singh’s son. Rarely have I come across such a close-knitted team in a restaurant business before!
We were hosted by Mr. Pandey, and you can tell by his enthusiasm how much he loves his job… and knows his Indo-Chinese cuisine!
The menu here is varied yet compact. They have a special menu for breakfast, and the rest focuses on Indo-Chinese appetizers and mains. The restaurant’s main business comes from deliveries around the 5 km radius, and we saw quite a few parcels being sent out as we awaited our orders.
We started off with very ‘desi’, very refreshing Masala Cola and Masala Limca. These are basically cola and lemon soda that has been spiced up with Indian masala.
Then came Real Momo’s signature starter, the Chinese Bhel. This dish consists of crunchy noodles coated in very enticingly delicious spicy Chinese sauce. Such an addictive flavor! This was my favorite dish from the night, and I surely will be back for more.
The other appetizer on our table was Real Momo’s Crispy Chicken with Crackling Spinach. This appetizer comes with decadently coated chicken bites served with a side of crisp, deep-fried spinach. You have to dip the chicken bits into the spinach with very forkful. Loved the flavor combination here, and even loved having the spinach on its own.
Coming back to the momos, you get to choose vegetarian or chicken. We went for the later, and had it in all three varieties offered: steamed, tandoored and Schezwaned.
My husband hails from Shillong (Meghalaya, India) where the migrant community of Nepal have made momos an intrinsic part of street-food culture in that region. My husband is therefore a seasoned momo critic, and he absolutely loved the steamed chicken momos here. The casing was beautifully soft, the filling hit the right spice notes and had more chicken than vegetable buffering, and the fiery hot chili paste on the side was the cherry on the cake.
The tandoor-style momos are the restaurant’s own invention. These look so photogenic, and so patriotic in the Indian tri-color. The green ones are called Hariyali Momos (the coating has a mix of coriander and mint), the orange are the Achari Momos (‘achar’ is pickle in Indian), and the pale yellow are the Malai Momos (‘malai’ is cream in Indian).
These momos have been basted with the three different spice coatings, and finished off in the traditional Indian clay oven. The momos have a smokey after-taste, and the baking has dried the outer casing a little. It’s a clever little take on Indian-fusion, but I personally still prefer the traditional steamed variety.
The third style of momos here is the Garlic Schezwan Sauce Momos where the steamed momos have been coated in a deliciously spicy Chinese coating. If you like it spicy, these momos are a real treat, and the enticing sauce makes this version a more filling option to boot.
Three servings of Momos later, we were already satiated, but ofcourse we had to try out their much talked about noodles and chicken sides. We went for the Chicken Chili Garlic Noodles, and had this with Schezwan Chicken.
The noodles were absolutely delicious! Packed with the hit of garlic and chili and generously loaded with chicken bites, this is a dish I’d love to indulge in on a cold winter’s day… right infront on the tele watching my current favorite sitcom, ‘Big Little Lies’. We actually packed up leftovers and did just that!
The Schezwan Chicken is an extension of the last round of Momos we had. The sauce is identical, and instead of Momos we ad boneless chicken. At AED 20 with a portion size easily sufficient for two, this is one great value for money dinner option!
I am so glad we’ve discovered Real Momos! This wee diner is everything that constitutes a ‘hidden gem’. The humble interiors are a facade for flavors that really hit the spot. I know we will be driving down for takeaways quite often now!