“You will never find this flavour anywhere on earth,” says Archana Dellala of her Nepalese dumplings. It’s a grand claim, but it’s technically true.
The co-owner of Momo Bar in Manly developed each of her filling recipes from scratch. They’re based on traditional momo, Nepalese dumplings, adjusted for a Sydney palate. “They’re like my little babies. I get quite emotional about them,” she says.
Archana and her staff make around 10,000 dumplings every week. In Nepal, buffalo momos are common, but for Manly, Archana makes five fillings: chicken, pork, lamb, organic lentil and mixed vegetable.
Spooned over a trio of chicken dumplings is a flavourful chicken broth with paprika butter. A dollop of yoghurt takes the broth from clear to creamy. The dumpling skins are thin, chewy and steamed to translucent like Chinese xiao long bao. The filling has complex flavours of curry and coriander.
Archana’s poke bowls are pretty and simple. Colours and shapes are arranged thoughtfully in the bowl: a pile of crisp green edamame sits next to bright curls of peeled carrot and rosy pink raw salmon. There are three a-la-carte bowls to try – Volcano, Tiki and Aloha. There’s also the option to build your own.
The combination of such diverse cuisines seems incongruous at first. “We got told by someone in the business to just do one, but we ignored that advice and just went for it,” says Damian Dellala, co-owner and Archana’s husband. “It’s working really well. People share momo as a starter and then have their own poke bowls as a main.”
Momo Bar is next to a handful of cafes and eateries in a bustling laneway. Even though it’s just around the corner, the area feels far from the touristy Corso that leads from the ferry to the main beach.
All the action happens inside a tiny kitchen that’s elevated above the service counter. There’s a long timber bench to sit and wait for your order at, and outdoor tables are adorned simply with sprigs of flowers and greenery. Heat lamps and colourful wool blankets ward off winter, and in the summer, the shady lane will be a welcome respite from the heat.
28 Market Lane, Manly