Where the dumplings roam

Boulder is a bastion of diverse dough-wrapped pleasures, from momo and gyoza to gnocchi

Chiri Maharjan

Without exaggeration I can honestly say I’ve never met a dumpling I didn’t like, whether potstickers, pierogi, pelmeni, or chicken with dumplings. It pays to be open-minded when it comes to this epitome of warmth and soothing comfort. 

Knowing my taste, a reader kindly let me know about a new, bright red food cart on the Downtown Mall dishing hot momo. 

Chiri’s Momo Delights is set up next to the Boulder information kiosk in front of the courthouse lawn. Sanjay Nazir greets the curious lunch and early dinner crowd while Chiri Maharjan mans the window to dish their simple but winning menu of steamed chicken, vegetable, or beef momo. 

Momo are the beloved steamed dumplings from Tibet and Nepal. The duo makes them fresh in a local commercial kitchen. 

Chiri, who grew up in Kathmandu, and Sanjay—born in Kashmir—became friends when they started working at nearby downtown shops. According to Sanjay, every time they cooked the favorite foods from their homelands, family and friends raved and urged them to feed the public. They grabbed a cart spot on the Mall and opened three months ago. 

You can taste the herbs, masala spices, onions and green onions and minced meats in Chiri’s steaming, wheat-dough-wrapped bundles. Their orange chutney is set at medium, heat-wise. 

There was a time when Boulder was a virtual dumpling desert. Now there are dozens of eateries serving dumplings within a few blocks and miles of this cart. More momo are served nearby at Sherpa Restaurant and Tibet Kitchen. There are pan-fried potstickers available at Zoe Ma Ma and Supermoon, translucent shumai at Izakaya Amu and Osaka’s Restaurant, and sip-able xiao long bao soup dumplings at Flower Pepper Restaurant.  

What is and isn’t a dumpling is a subject that foodies love to debate. It’s doughy versus filled, steamed or fried? The global dumpling tent is expansive enough to welcome the oak-roasted potato gnocchi at OAK at 14th, the Italian potato gnocchi at Pastaio, the Czech-style gnocchi and Austrian-style spaetzle at Bohemian Biergarten. It embraces the matzo balls in the chicken soup at Rye Society in the Avanti food hall. What about all the spots—Italian and otherwise—dishing cheese, meat, and vegetable ravioli?

Meanwhile, Longmont’s Shinkyu-No: Dumpling Delivery service will drop off organic spinach, tofu, and water chestnut-crammed Japanese steamed dumplings at your house.

Farther afield, you can find wonton soup at Louisville’s Spice China and fruit-filled Polish pierogies at Westminster’s Cracovia Restaurant. The dumpling universe expands in Denver with pelmeni at Red Square Euro Bistro and Armenian meat-filled mante at the House of Bread. 

P.S. Visiting Chiri’s Momo Delights was a flashback for me. When the Downtown Mall was being built, I ran one of the first food carts—A La Cart—selling sandwiches and drinks on the eastern end of the 1300 block opposite the famous Rocky Mountain Records. In the late 1970s, that Boulder info kiosk was occupied by Mountain High Ice Cream, makers of a fantastic blueberry ice cream. 

Local food news

It looks like outdoor dining will be a significant part of Boulder’s restaurant experience this winter and beyond. Boulder County Public Health issued a Public Health Advisory because COVID cases and hospitalizations are rapidly increasing, putting a strain on ICU capacity. The agency is advising us to “move private gatherings outdoors” and wear a mask in crowded outdoor spaces. Sound familiar? . . . Decent Bagel, a new shop featuring scratch-made New York-style bagels, has opened at 95 E. 1st St. in Nederland . . . A land use change approved by the Boulder City Council paves the way for restaurants to operate in Boulder’s Valmont City Park, Flatirons Golf Course and at the Boulder Reservoir where controversy erupted after neighbors complained about its new Driftwind eatery. If you can eat and drink in the sacred Rocky Mountain National Park, it seems reasonable to allow foodservice for visitors and guests at Boulder’s largest parks . . . Bookcliff Vineyards has released its 2021 Boulder Star Bordeaux blend wine. A portion of the proceeds helps maintain the star, set to be lit again on Flagstaff Mountain on November 11. Bottles are  available at the winery’s Boulder tasting room . . . Boulder Weekly readers named Piripi in Erie as the Best New Restaurant in the fresh 2021 Best of East Boulder County survey. Find out which eateries, bakeries, and bars also earned kudos at boulderweekly.com.

Words to chew on

“And we eat until our souls rise up sighing and the most hidden virtues of our wretched humanity are renewed as that blessed soup seeps into our bones.”—Isabel Allende

John Lehndorff is the Food Editor of Boulder Weekly. He hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:20 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU (streaming at kgnu.org). 

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