After four years of living in New York City, my good friend Marcin Wójcik, 32, returned home to Krakow, Poland, last summer to work as a blogger for his Web venture, Krakoff.info. In Poland’s second-biggest city, population circa 800,000, he lives with his girlfriend in an apartment so compact and efficient, the bathroom and the kitchen are in the same room. We skipped our costly Scandinavian route and made a detour to visit him. Tonight we drive downtown to dine at one of his favorite eateries, Momo, one of only four vegetarian restaurants in Krakow, according to Marcin.
The restaurant has an Indian and Tibetan motif (tapestries, sitar tunes), and its menu features dosa pancakes, rice pilafs, and lentils aplenty. (There is an English version of the menu, helping us avoid the indignity of pointing at mysterious words like toddlers.)
We order “Tibetan dumplings” (a.k.a. Momo), stuffed whole-grain crêpes, sambar (a lentil and coconut soup), and a selection of cold salads.
The dumplings are disappointing doughy sacks stuffed with vegetables.
“At least the sauce is spicy and great,” Andrew says, dipping a dumpling in a tiny lake of crushed peppers, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
The crêpes are light and springy, packed with heaps of fresh steamed spinach and minced tofu. The chunky peanut-sauce topping is Thai in origin, and makes me appreciate globalization. So does the lentil-and-veggie-loaded sambar, which would never fly in Mumbai, but “is warming and comforting, with a perfect amount of coconut sweetness,” as Andrew says.
We finish with a slice of vegan chocolate-carrot cake, topped with sunflower seeds. It’s a touch dry, but it sates our collective sweet tooth.
“This wasn’t the best vegetarian meal I’ve ever had,” Andrew says, “but I feel like I’ve finally gotten some nutrients.”