Katmandu Momo in Conway officially opened its doors Monday, starting with lunch service from 11 to 2 and dinner from 5 to 9. The expansion, in the center of downtown Conway on 1018 Oak St., represents so much more than just a new restaurant for Katmandu Momo.
With more than 30 items on the Conway menu and four more variations on their signature Nepalese dumplings—Jhol Momo (soup), Khotay Momo (pan-seared), Deep-Fried Momo, and Chili Momo (stir-fried in a sweet-and-spicy sauce)—this restaurant represents the hopes and dreams of husband-and-wife owners Kyler Nordeck and Saroza Shrestha.
“It was always the goal for us, to do a sit-down restaurant. That was the idea behind it all,” Nordeck said after a packed soft-opening on Saturday. “We initially wanted to introduce this food type [in 2014 with the food truck] to see if it would fly in the Little Rock area. However, when we came up to Conway with the food truck, Conway was very receptive. We were always crazy busy if we came up here for lunch.”
After a few events in Conway, Shrestha insisted that when they opened a restaurant, they would open in Conway.
“She really wanted to do a restaurant here!” said Nordeck.
Shrestha mentioned she was excited to cook more traditional foods to her Newari heritage, a group of people living in the Katmandu area, like Chatamari and Thakali Kahana.
“Chatamari is like a crepe made with rice flour, so it is gluten-free,” said Shrestha. “On top goes ground pork or chicken that’s been marinated, and then we crack an egg on it. This is a traditional dish from the Newari people. I’m a member of the Newari group, so chatamari is something special to me.”
The Thakali Kahana, Nordeck mentions, is something that the Newari people eat once or twice a day, every day. “It’s a traditional Nepali rice dish and is small portions of meat, vegetables, and sauce with rice.”
For those who haven’t experienced Nepalese food, Nordeck discusses the big differences and influences on Nepalese food culture. “Nepal is located between China and India, so they use a lot of Chinese techniques with Indian spices. However, if you sit down and try both Indian food and Nepalese food side by side, they are totally different.”
Nordeck also mentions there are many different types of food within Nepal, so their take on Nepalese food is very different from what you’d find in a different city.
“My wife is from Katmandu and the food we are serving is very specific to Katmandu. The Newari love food. There are festivals in Katmandu and when they cook for festivals, they go over the top.”
With something for everyone (including plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options), Katmandu Momo is a great addition to the burgeoning Conway food scene.