Restaurants & Bars

The momo duel begins at De Namaste in Plumstead - London

JFores | Dec 4, 201204:41 PM     24

Hello all,

I've got a bit of a review back log but dinner tonight was so incredible that it is leap frogging 4 other places that I need to write up.

I just got back from the Nepalese equivalent of Thattukada. If that doesn't sound immediately arresting and appealing from a South Asian culinary perspective then the fact that I have a list of at least four other Nepalese restaurants in the immediate vicinity that I need to try should get people trekking out here. I was going to do a crawl with two friends and the Nepalese bartender at my local pub (seriously, I got this place off him) but he bailed last second. We ended up hunkering down in De Namaste, ordering 1/4 of the menu and skipping the crawl until it's warmer (or at least lighter outside. I'll try to redo it next week.)

Upon entering D'Namaste (on the menu, De Namaste on its allinlondon listing), you will find yourself in a tiny takeaway like room. I immediately thought "wow this is small, but it looks packed and really good." Turns out there are also three rooms upstairs. Two of them are for large parties while a third serves as the sitting "on the floor with your shoes off equivalent" of four top Thattukada. The setting in the room is legit. A friend who joined me for the meal lived in Nepal for four months and agreed wholeheartedly when I said the room and the environment (huge number of customers who were 100% Nepalese all night) would pass for Nepal with ease if you couldn't see two British electrical plugs in a corner.

The food in this place and its environment are what make me say it is a Nepalese version of Thattukada. The menu is heavily geared towards drinking food, but even more homely dishes like the full thali were exceptional. They have a full bar and most of the other customers were drinking though we abstained.

We ordered:

Mutton momo and chicken momo - At 4.25 for 12, these momo are a steal. I have only had momo at 3 places in England, but they were all mediocre or worse. New York has an immense number of Nepalese and Tibetan restaurants so I have become very accustomed to momo. These were incredibly good and would be within the top 3 or top 5 of what I can name from New York. Homemade dipping sauce (although I've had better) with perfect juicy fillings. The dumpling skins were superior to many places in New York and while I found the filling delicious, I know for a fact that I have experienced deeper stronger spiced flavors at one or two other places. Tawa in Queens edges them ever so slightly on their chicken momo, but these are hands down the best in London if other places in Plumstead fail to blow me away.

Hyakula - Exceptionally crispy lamb ribs which are fried and served with onions, other raw vegetables and a dry powdered dipping sauce which tasted of achar. Excellent with crisp delicious meat. Very tasty.

Taas - An interesting platter which combines a cold potato curry/stew and a tangy achar-like serving of courgette with exceptionally well grilled mutton. Delicious with a good char and a strong meaty flavor. Like the hyakula, it was simple, but delicious. Served with puffed rice topped with crispy fried garlic. The entire dish is like a thali with puffed rice where you can mix and match the different items before eating your next piece of succulent rich mutton.

Mixed Thukpa - Thukpa is Nepal's answer to laksa. A thick noodle soup with a strongly spiced broth that still had an intense flavor of chicken which hinted towards a slowly brewed quality stock 9/10 broth. The "mixed" in the name denotes chicken, pork and mutton all of which pre-grilled. This dish was a meaty delight and it was the single best bowl of noodle soup I've had since pho in Paris (and my best before that was the Indonesian mie bakso place near Charing Cross.) This is an incredible dish particularly in today's weather. The single best version I've had and I have had it at a number of places in New York. My one complaint is that they used pre-made noodles here whereas most places in New York make their own hand pulled noodles and then proceed to murder the meats, accompaniments and broth.

Thakali Thali or Nepali Khana... Literally Nepali Eat or Nepali Thali - This is basically their one dish meal. Another thali is offered and I will pre order it for a return visit ASAP. At 9 pounds for something like a 3.50-4.00 Thattukada meal, it was expensive. The thali itself was excellent though. The vegetables given with the dish were extremely authentic to Nepal, as noted by my companion who lived there. The family she stayed with served both the bak choi like vegetable dish and a cauliflower curry which came in the thali almost daily. The mutton curry had a thin more tangy broth while the meat was shockingly tender. Perfectly cooked. One of the best mutton curries I could name at any restaurant I go to in London. Solid Nepalese dal (extremely thin like Bengali dal.)

This entire feast came to 37 pounds between three people and we were all very full. That price includes two mango lassi which were freshly made.

Apologies for the length of the post, but I felt that this place deserves attention. It undoubtedly does enough business (it was doing a lot for a Tuesday night) but more people need to try this place. It is hidden away in the under-visited center of London's Nepalese community and it is surrounded by other exciting restaurants. This place is amazing and I have not been this excited about a first meal at a random restaurant since Neerob in the Bronx or Silk Road in London.

De Namaste
158 Plumstead Road
London, SE18 7DY

020 8333 2232

Pictured are the taas and the thukpa, but more pics may follow. This is just the beginning of a larger momo duel across Plumstead.

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