When Faisal Mutua tasted Lakpa Nubo’s momos the first time, he fell in love. Mutua, a nurse and coffee roaster, met Nubo through their day jobs, but both of them had their side passions: Mutua was roasting coffee from his family’s farm in Kenya, and Nubo made momos, or Himalayan filled dumplings, like the ones she made in her native Nepal. So, this year, the two came together for a single business: The Momo Master, a momo cart on NE Alberta, where Mutua could sell his coffee and Nubo’s dumplings. But as the two came together, the cart became a more integrated entity: The cart’s momos incorporate Kenyan flavors, from the Kenyan-style tomato curry served alongside the dumplings to the Impossible beef dumplings filled with cumin and parsley. “I love her dumplings, and we wanted to fuse our flavors,” he says.
The Momo Master’s menu changes per Nubo and Mutua’s whim, which is how they like it: When one of Mutua’s friends from California came to visit, for instance, he asked him to make his birria for a momo filling. Nubo also likes to pull inspiration from local farmers and producers, stuffing dumplings with Mama Lil’s peppers and Oregon and Washington-raised, grass-fed beef; Mutua says that all of the cart’s meat comes from a 20-mile radius of the cart. “We wanted to keep the money in the local economy,” he says.
While the momos change, however, the beverages generally stay the same, and mostly stick to Kenyan staples: Bissap, a hibiscus drink made with mint, mint lemonade, and coffee roasted by Mutua. That coffee is no joke: Abundancia Coffee, Mutua’s company, has won top marks from the Good Food Awards to Coffee Review.
The Momo Master is open for takeout within the Bantu Island pod, at 1533 NE Alberta Street.