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Oct 25, 2011 10:01 PM

The veggie options at Tawa's Nepali Hut rock

I've seen reviews raving about Tawa's chicken momos ( and other meat options. Well, the veggie options at this homey Indian/Nepali joint are equally awesome.

We tried the aloo (potato) kati roll and an order of veggie momos with daikon pickle. The potato was mildly spiced -- nothing special, but totally unoily, which is always hard to find. The real flavor came from the bits of chopped green pepper and red onion cooked into the aloo on the grill (aka, the tava -- in Hindi) and the huge dose of tangy homemade mint chutney spooned into the kati roll. The whole package was amazingly zesty and flavorful -- or as one would say in India: chatpata!

The parantha was quite nice, too -- surprisingly unoily and very thin, delicate. They make their own paranthas (and rotis, chapatis) in-house, so that's not a huge surprise, though.

We were disappointed to find that the paneer momos have been discontinued (we've never seen those anywhere else!), but our veggie momos were superb. They contained an amazingly flavorful mix of spiced cabbage and carrots and were served with a very spicy chutney and tangy Nepali daikon pickle. The flavors were similar to Indian, but DISTINCT -- a different combination of spices than my Punjabi mom-in-law would select for her cooking.

I've tried a few veggie momos in Jax Heights (e.g., from Merit Kebab and Bombay Chaat) and this is by far the most flavorful one. My only complaint -- it seems like they use the store-issue wonton wrappers. I prefer dough (as at Bombay Chaat -- though their dough is a bit too thick!).

The owner was amazingly friendly, too. (Granted, we were speaking Hindi -- which seemed to ease the way a bit.) Though it was past closing time, he happily whipped up fresh chai on the spot for us (made properly -- boiled w/milk in a pot on the stove!) and offered thorough storage/steaming tips for the two bags of frozen momos we took home with us.

Tawa Food
37-38 72nd St, Queens, NY 11372

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  1. Hit this place today with the kids. totally enjoyed it. Loved the samae baji (we got it vegetarian for my veg daughter) and the chicken kati roll, which was amazing--a very tender fresh paratha wrapped around chopped up chicken sauteed with chilis, cilantro, and other delicious things. We also had the masala dosa (enjoyed it, but not much like a real south indian dosa) and the chicken and veggie momos. The momos were very good, but I realized today that momos don't excite me that much. (unless I'm in northern india, where they're a nice change from indian food.) I think I always kind of compare them to chinese dumplings in my mind and they come up wanting.
    The owners/guy who cooks were super nice and we had a lovely time.
    I would recommend people stop by for the samae baji and chicken kati roll, two excellent and cheap items.

    Tawa Food
    37-38 72nd St, Queens, NY 11372

    1 Reply
    1. re: missmasala

      Just touting this place again. Went back yesterday and the chicken kati roll was as good as ever. The samae baji was also good, but all the curries were served cold--it was better last time.
      This time we also had the chai, which, as cityspoonful noted, was delicious and authentic--like my aunties--boiling hot, sweet, and milky.
      The new discovery this time was that if you order a paratha to eat in, you receive a delicious, freshly-made behemoth that is easily twice the size of the ones packaged to go. (or at least that's what we got.) We ordered potato but someone else got the chicken one, which also looked v tasty. We brought some regular-sized chicken parathas home and these were also v good.
      The great food is only enhanced by the friendly people running the place and by the fact that it's all very inexpensive.

      Tawa Food
      37-38 72nd St, Queens, NY 11372

    2. Based on this two-year-old writeup, I visited Tawa today. I had a most enjoyable experience, but I need to give the updated information that they are offering Nepalese fare only. No more kati rolls or dosas. What the do have are veg, chicken and beef momos (of course), goat and chicken curry, six versions of thali platters, chicken, beef, goat and fish Dhendo (I am not familiar with this and have not tried it yet) and 14 appertizers (Aloo dum, Bhutun, Chana bhuteko, Chhola beef, Chhola chicken, Chana chapate, Chicken chili, Fried fish, Frid jibro, Samay baji, Sandheko waiwai, Sel roti, Sukuti and Sandheko bhatmas). A couple of my first choices were not available, so I advise that you don't go with your heart set on any particular dish in advance.

      I had the chicken momos and an order of chhola beef (dried beef in a moderately spicy stew that comes with flattened rice). The chhola was extremely good and the rice krispies stood up to the sauce and remained crunchy to the end. The momos were good, though not as moist and soup-dumpling-like as those I have had a couple of blocks away at Phayul. They brought a caddy containing 3 very distinctly different sauces and these made up for the somewhat gummy wrapper and mildly seasoned filling. I would be interested in hearing from a native of the region just what they are called and what is in them. None of them are especially fiery hot (at least not to my jaded palate), though a couple of them seemed to have some sort of chili base. There was a yellow one that almost tasted like it contained pickle brine.

      The ambiance of the place is worth the price of admission, so to speak. The entire place is about the size of two adjacent parking spaces and there is absolutely no division between where the cooking and the eating takes place. All around me were women intently working over dough and passing around seasonings and spices.

      Very friendly service and I had no problem communicating, other than one additional appetizer that I thought I had ordered never showed up. This was all for the best since the momos and chhola left me plenty stuffed on their own.

      The tab: $13 plus tip

      I'll be back.

      6 Replies
      1. re: punto

        >> 'No more kati rolls' <<

        Is the aluminum storm door still in the entryway ??
        I'd wait near the door and watch my kati roll(s) being made.

        1. re: Cheese Boy

          Pretty sure the storm door is still there. I do know that someone sitting at the table closest to it was pretty much literally in the doorway. The seats and tables are squeezed in what feels like a random manner and not in any one separate area.

          Seems as though the Nepalis were originally sub-tenants but now occupy the whole space (what little there is of it).

          1. re: punto

            Interesting; as of earlier this month the Pakistani bread ladies were still at work in the back of the space. You could buy their wares from a table laden with paratha, roti etc. and pay at a separate cash register at the rear of the dining area.

            The intrepid Joe DiStefano even got the Nepali kitchen to make him a spicy hybrid wrap using a freshly made roti from the bakers ...

            1. re: squid kun

              The breads are still there, all packaged and apparently for sale, so maybe the dough kneading that I observed was associated with their manufacture. I could not tell at a glance if the kneaders were Pakistani, Nepali or anything else. Still, the menu I was handed makes no mention of anything other than Nepali. In fact, when I, in my ignorance, tried to order a kati roll, the woman flatly said "Nepal food only". Maybe someone more able to sweet talk them might find them more flexible. I may even try it the next time myself.

              1. re: punto

                That's right, the Dhaulagiri Kitchen menu refers only to what comes out of the tiny kitchen up front next to the door, not from the bread operation in the rear (visible in the background of the Chopsticks and Marrow photo).

                Here's more on the Nepali menu: ...

              2. re: squid kun

                In the past, when they used to offer "kati rolls" they would do exactly what Joe DiStefano asked for: the ladies in back would hand a freshly made paratha to the people up front, who would fill it with chicken or egg. The combo of the fresh paratha and tasty meat is what made them so good. Glad to know one can still get these, and now, it appears, with an even bigger variety of fillings.
                Also, can you still order the parathas to eat in from the back. These used to cost $2 and were twice as big as the packaged ones—and delicious as they came fresh, hot and blistered off the grill.
                We had stopped going to Tawa because for a few months there they seemed disorganized and the atmosphere was a little tense--like the back and the front hadn't quite figured out how to work with each other. But now it seems like its running smoothly again.