A tantalising taste of Tibet, The Momo Shack in Dalston

16 Dec 2016

Nearly every day, I discover word of brilliant food stalls, markets dedicated to taste and new pop ups blossoming into life – and that’s what I love so much about this glittering city I call home. The best thing about these enterprises is the stories behind them, from the traveler inspired by the perfect pad Thai dish sampled in Asia, to those who’ve grown up with revered family recipes they now want to share with the world.

Every new business has a story to tell and one of the city’s brightest new stars is Alex Lobsang, the charismatic 29 year old behind The Momo Shack, which has promised to bring a taste of Tibet to London. Taught and inspired by his Tibetan father, Alex’s story is truly inspiring and reminded me just how diverse and eclectic the London food scene is. As a refugee fleeing Tibet, Alex’s father was brought to the UK to be rehomed by a charity working for the country’s cause. As such, Alex’s father was keen to teach him about his Tibetan roots, and what better way to do that than through the sensory experience of cooking and eating?

So, what is a momo? As far as I could work out, it is a dim sum by another name – not that I intend that to sound reductive in any way. Much like its cousin, momo is a type of steamed dumpling that can be filled with a variety of different ingredients. A traditional delicacy in Tibet, this is one of the most popular fast foods in the region. Having spent his early years crafting, practicing and perfecting his momo recipe, Alex is now almost at the end of his first year running The Momo Shack. Quitting his job as an Account Manager for a start-up, he is successfully realising his dream of bringing the finest steamed dumplings to the UK’s public, and gaining a loyal following as he does it.

A shout out must go to Dom, Alex’s ‘blood brother’ who was manning the kitchen at the Brunswick East Café in Dalston on our visit. This dynamic duo share an unbreakable bond, growing up closely together after their fathers were both brought to the UK as part of the same refugee operation. Together, Dom and Alex presented us with a very simple menu, offering up their handmade lamb, chicken and vegetable steamed momos served with a side of perfectly al dente mixed vegetable stir fry and a deliciously (drinkable) handmade spicy tomato salsa. And the momos themselves? Complete perfection.

We started with a variety of five, crispy momos (£4), fried for extra bite, followed by…more momos. A selection of six will cost you £7. Steamed this time, an explosion of flavour presented itself in the form of onion, garlic, ginger, Indian masala and fresh coriander. This isn’t any old steamed dumpling; every inch of each ingredient shines through mouthful after mouthful, from the robust lamb to the crunchy cabbage. We washed our momos down with an impeccable craft bar and an organic red rioja. The bar also serves a selection of Tibetan-themed cocktails.

The Momo Shack is nearing the end of its awesome six week run at this location, but I’ve no doubt in my mind this pop up is destined for big things. Get down there before the 24th but a warning – you are likely to ignite a momo obsession you never knew you had…


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