Eating the World

New Indian-Nepali Food Truck Twirls Dumplings in Greater Phoenix

Nepali momos from Everest Momo.
Nepali momos from Everest Momo. Chris Malloy
Before his dumpling-slinging, Valley-trekking truck, before he was a “culinologist” studying the science and art of food, before he managed restaurants and a corporate cafeteria, and before he was an Arizonan, Subash Yadav was a kid growing up in south Asia.

His dad comes from north India. His mom comes from Kathmandu, capital of Nepal. He's lived in both.

The dumplings his food truck serves, called momos, are cooked in both places. But they are more deeply entrenched in Himalayan countries, like his mom’s Nepal.

Momos are from the hilly, mountainous region that’s close to Tibet,” Yadav begins, taking a Nepali perspective. “And that’s how they started — Tibetan dumplings. But we’re close to India as well, so we [Nepal] kind of created our own dish that has influences from both counties.”

Though momos exist in diverse forms through many parts of South Asia, Yadav focuses on Nepali versions. He claims to be the first Nepali-style momo purveyor in metro Phoenix.

More broadly, the short menu of food he serves at his truck — a selection especially short in the summer — freely crosses the border between India and Nepal. His curry is in a north Indian style. He crisps garlic naan and blends mango lassi with cardamom and saffron. Admirably, he operates with elite local produce and environmental compassion. But in the end, the truck’s nucleus is pinned by its name: Everest Momo.

click to enlarge There are eight wrinkled dough pouches to a $10 order. - CHRIS MALLOY
There are eight wrinkled dough pouches to a $10 order.
Chris Malloy
Three months after opening, Yadav is “humbled” by how many people have turned out for his Himalayan dumplings.

They come as eight wrinkled dough pouches to a $10 order. They bulge under chopped cilantro, their sides packed so tightly they glue together a little. They arrive throat-burning hot. And they have the momo’s signature thick, chewy skins shaped like coin purses, twirled at the top, concealing richly spiced meats within.

As Yadav’s menu stands now, an order of momos features one of three fillings: beef, chicken, or vegetable.

Yadav’s current vegetable momo is vegan. For these and for his ground-meat momo fillings, he uses chopped local vegetables from places like Crooked Sky Farms and the vendors of the Uptown Farmers Market, where Everest Momo often parks on Saturdays.

Though his dough-enveloped fillings are rich, Yadav is quick to explain that he doesn’t add any extra fats to his momos, and that his Nepali nook of the greater dumpling taxonomy, though fast food in Kathmandu and from his truck, can be on the healthy side.

Yadav’s are partly blanketed in a dusky-spiced coarse orange sauce, which pools in the bottom of its long cardboard boat. He blends it from a roasted panoply that includes tomatoes, garlic, cumin, sesame seeds, jalapeños, and more — the precise components varying by season.

click to enlarge The Everest Momo ordering window. - CHRIS MALLOY
The Everest Momo ordering window.
Chris Malloy
“My goal was to serve food that’s better for you,” Yadav says. “We use a lot of ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon.”

Speaking of better for you: You can also opt to add chile sauce.

Crucially, Yadav takes steps to minimize his waste. He uses compostable utensils and bags. Sauces color dumplings rather than fill tiny plastic containers — the core logic being that this circumvents the need for wasteful containers a side sauce would require.

Yavdav plans to evolve to main vegetables beyond his current cabbage, onions, and mushrooms, moving with the seasons.

He plans to slide into other momo styles: crisped with peanut sauce, and “soup” momos like xiaolongbao.

He hopes that his truck will be a vehicle for dumplings, but also good.

Everest Momo.
Mobile; 480-269-0073.
See website for schedule of places and hours. 
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Chris Malloy, former food editor and current food critic at Phoenix New Times, has written for various local and national outlets. He has scrubbed pots in a restaurant kitchen, earned graduate credit for a class about cheese, harvested garlic in Le Marche, and rolled pastas like cappellacci stuffed with chicken liver. He writes reviews but also narrative stories on the food world's margins.
Contact: Chris Malloy