clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Wonderful Sesame-Doused Pork Momos — and Other Cheap Eats

Nepalese, Middle Eastern, and Guyanese offered for your delectation this week

The goat thali at Sumnima offers a mountain of basmati rice and many side dishes.
The goat thali at Sumnima offers a mountain of basmati rice and many side dishes.

Three Great Cheap is a weekly series from critic Robert Sietsema that seeks to find and popularize New York City’s most interesting and inexpensive food in the five boroughs and beyond. Find the back catalog here. Also consult the bigger cheap eats guide, with maps, walking tours, and other resources.


Sumnima Kitchen

Just off Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside
Just off Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside
Momo can be ordered in a sesame sauce.
Momo can be ordered in a sesame sauce.

There must be two dozen Nepalese cafes and carts in the swath of Queens that runs from Sunnyside to Jackson Heights. These places dispense a similar menu of momos, roast meats, and noodle stir fries and soups, along with Chinese and Indian dishes — or at least their unique interpretation of them. One of the newest establishments is located in the middle of this fertile Himalayan territory, in Woodside not far from the city’s most famous Thai restaurant, Sripraphai. Run by manager Shanti Sampang and chef Bhawani Rai, Sumnima Kitchen is also among the more modern Nepalese restaurants, with a handsome dining room of jumbled wood and brick in a modern design idiom.

The menu is ambitious, but not overly long. Momos come with the usual stuffings of chicken, pork, beef, or veggies, but they also come as jhol momo, immersed in a wonderful sesame gravy that makes them more of a meal. A pork rib roast comes grilled and detached from the bone in strips, and in a Tibetan section of the menu, find sha bhakleb, dough purses stuffed with a beef or chicken patty. Pour on the red or orange chile sauce.

A good snapshot of Nepalese cuisine is furnished by any thali — ten or so dishes presented on a round metal tray to furnish a full meal, with two types of dal, rice, papadum, pickles, condiments, and a main meat, fish, or poultry curry, with or without dhido, a ball of mashed millet. 39-04 64th St., at the corner of 39th Avenue, Woodside

Fle Fle Grill

Out of nowhere, Fle Fle Grill recently emerged at the corner of Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street, on the site of a closed bakery. A sign offering $4.95 falafels has drawn the public in, but this quick-service eatery with some raised counter seating has plenty more culinary attractions. Sandwiches, bowls, and trays provide context for a pair of shawarma cylinders, one chicken, one beef. But there are also Middle Eastern meatballs and grilled chicken breast in addition to that falafel. A series of tubs and squirt bottles offer garnishes, salad items, and condiments that go on the meals, most without additional charge. Don’t miss the white garlic sauce, brine pickles, or homemade jalapeño hot sauce. Most meals around $10 and under, and pastries are also available. 268 West 23rd St., at Eighth Avenue, Chelsea

Fle Fle offers bowls, trays, and pita sandwiches.
Fle Fle offers bowls, trays, and pita sandwiches.
The chicken shawarma comes heaped on rice with tahini and a side of hummus.
Chicken shawarma heaped on rice with tahini and hummus

P & S Bakery & Restaurant

P & S is a tiny establishment incorporating a Guyanese bakery and lunch counter in one storefront. It becomes exceedingly crowded at mealtimes, when the line stretches out the door. If the weather is bad and you feel like eating in, there are only two seats. And the reason one might endure these crowded conditions is to get one of the best chicken rotis in town. In the Guyanese style, the flatbread comes wadded on the side and it’s bigger than you think. The curry is mellow, until the chile heat hits you. If you want more heat, ask for Scotch bonnet sauce when you place your order at the window. To the left is a counter, where all sorts of sweet pastries are sold, but you won’t have any room for them given the size of the roti. Most highly recommended. 917 Utica Ave., between Church and Snyder avenues, East Flatbush

P & S lies at the crossroads of East Flatbush.
P & S lies at the crossroads of East Flatbush.
One of the city’s tastiest chicken rotis
One of the city’s tastiest chicken rotis

Flé Flé Grill

254 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011 Visit Website

P&S Bakery & Restaurant

917 Utica Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203 (718) 485-2020

Sumnima Kitchen

39-04 64th Street, New York, NY 11377 (917) 396-4202

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater New York newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world