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ShangriLa Tibetan street cart in Jackson Heights

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Apologies if there has already been a discussion about this place, but I couldn't find anything with a search...

I have to post about this place! For the past 6 weeks, I have been haunted by the amazing beef momo coming out of the small cart located on the north side of Broadway between 73rd and 74th streets. They are like Chinese soup dumplings, but with beef - very gently spiced, with a nice broth that will dribble all over your shirt if you are not careful when taking a bite. $5 for 8 is a bargain in my book.

They sometimes have shabalay, which is basically a patty of the dumpling filling encased in pastry for a turnover. They sometimes don't have shabalay and you occasionally have to wait a long time for the momo, which is a drag, but I think they are improving this.

They also do rice platters with meat, but I prefer Sammy's across the way for those.

The dumplings, though, are spectacular - even with a 30-minute wait.

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  1. I noticed the cart a few days ago. I plan to stop by tomorrow for the beef momo's. I haven't tried Sammy's but will. I've been to KAHN's cart (next to Sammy's) several times for the chicken kebab on a stick. You get two sticks cut up with thick sliced fresh onion slightly cooked. It's served with basmati rice and salad. I have it with both the white and hot sauce. So very good and just $5. What do you get at Sammy's?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mike V

      I always get the gyro platter at Sammy's - with white sauce, hot sauce and their green sauce if they have it.

      I spoke with the Tibetan guy who runs ShangriLa about hours - he said they are hoping to do the lunch shift in Manhattan because JH is pretty quiet for them at midday and then come back to JH for the dinner/evening hours. I'm trying to convince him to set up near my office in Manhattan - then I could have momos twice a day!

    2. Must concur Jules. This cart is awesome. I love their momos which are fried to order--not sitting in a steam table getting soggy. I'll gladdly wait for these. They even have a little counter on one side so you can order "for here." I also like their Tibetan Chicken with rice as something a little different from Sammy's. Their home-made chile sauce is good on everything. Just wish they were there when I left for work in the morning--I think they get there at 11.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dave_G

        I just finished the momos and my mouth is burning from that chile sauce! The momos are distinctively good in two ways: the skin is very loose and buttery; the chile sauce is like fire. Tonight, a cup of chicken soup came with my momos--it was heavenly. It tasted subtly like chicken soup, was infused with ginger, and not at all oily. The soup was complementary but I would've gladly paid for it.

      2. I took home an order of beef momo's (dumplings) this evening and I was not impressed. The 8 dumplings were dry with a bland beef filling and did not have a nice broth that was discribed by Jules NYC. When I think of outstanding dumpling (Momo's) I think of Fresh Pork & Chives Dumplings from Lao Fei Fang Dumpling House in Elmhurst. Toss these dumplings in rapidly boiling water for 10 minutes and you have an outstanding dumpling experience. No, the dumplings at the Tibetian Cart are not outstanding and neither is the bland chicken soup.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Mike V

          My experience tonight was similar to Mike's. There was no wait for the momos, which I guess was a bad sign (they were sitting around). The momos were very thick-skinned and taut rather than "loose and buttery" as described by congee (I do actually prefer my momos thick-skinned, but these had begun to dry out a bit). They were also steamed and not fried, contrary Dave G's experience. The filling was not like "soup dumplings" as described by Jules, and rather underseasoned. Half of them still had a little bit of fatty juice within, but the other half had meat which was already starting to dessicate. While the sauce was plenty hot, it was also very one-dimensional, containing none of the acidity, garlic, ginger nor numbness (from Sichuan peppercorns) of a good fire-roasted tomato-based momo sauce.

          I consider myself a momo aficionado, having been raised on the stuff. I've even daydreamed of opening a momo cart myself. But once I think about the logistics, I realize that the perfect steamed dumpling is all about timing. It is best right after being in the steamer for 12 or so minutes when the internal temperature is around 150-160F, and then deteriorates exponentially whether held in a steamer or at ambient temperature. That's why I would never operate a momo cart; either there would always be a long wait (street food is supposed to be quick) or I would be dishing out subpar parcels. Of course, this wouldn't be a problem if there was always a line of devotees, but Shangri La is not on that level.

          I will probably give this cart another shot if I know that I'll be getting fresh momos, but $5 for 8 is too high (even if it is the best version I've had in Jackson Heights). For comparison, one can get consistently great (because they're fresh) Chinese dumplings at Lao Bei Fang or the stall in the basement of the Golden shopping mall in Flushing for $2 for 8 or 10.

          I also didn't get any chicken soup with my order. Looks like they seem to be having consistency issues throughout.

          1. re: Joe MacBu

            I had momos on the brain today and went around 4:30 for my fix - they were as good as ever at that time. They have had lines of devotees at peak times (hence the 30 minute waits I have endured) - maybe they are away for the holiday?
            I can see how they could wither if you don't get them right out of the steamer though. And I don't like the sauce either - I think it's too harsh and overpowers the dumplings. But without the sauce, I think they are excellent.

            1. re: JulesNYC

              Well, the sauce is not for the faint of heart, Jules. (I kid) You gotta like a little pain with your pleasure. As I type now, beads of sweat are running down my face from last of the days momos and chile sauce that is considerably more concentrated than earlier in the day. Lovin' it.

              1. re: JulesNYC

                Jules: In case you're not aware you can purchase momos at Merit Kebab Palace at 37-67 74th St. I haven't been but someone a few weeks ago mentioned they were good. Merit Farms is Bangladeshi, Pakistani & Indian but in the rear you'll find Tibetan cuisine including Momo's. They have beef & chicken and you can probably order a combination.