Manchester's diversity delivers Nepal's cuisine
The Manchester Mirror, March 23, 2006
by Heather Matthews
Bhalo Pandey has done it all. He's an artist and a musician. He practiced law, taught meditation, worked as
a computer programmer, and ran a small catering business, providing Nepalese cuisine for private parties.
In 2004, Pandy decided to add another line to his vitae, and leap into the restaurant business full-time.
"The restaurant business is always a big risk, but I took that risk," he said. And it has paid off.
Since opening, his small restaurant, Cafe Momo, has been constantly at the center of attention. To date,
Cafe Momo is the most reviewed restaurant in New Hampshire. The 30-seat restaurant has been featured in
the press 14 times in 14 months. It was also voted "Best Hot and Spicy Appetizers and Entrees" in New
Hampshire's 2005 Best of New Hampshire competition.
Part of the appeal is Cafe Momo is the only Nepalese restaurant in New Hampshire, and New England. Pandey
said he thinks his cafe may be the only restaurant serving authentic Nepalese cuisine on the East Coast.
Pandey is often asked to describe Nepalese cuisine, and that's one of the toughest orders he receives. The
cuisine is heavily influenced by the nations that border the small country. "(Nepalese) food is more
flavorful than Tibetan, and less greasy than Indian," said Pandey. "But, it's a very different style than
Indian cooking. Most vegetables in Indian food are overcooked, and they use a lot of chikcen, and a lot of
He said many people are surprised that he chose to open in Manchester, rather than the more-cosmopolitan
Boston, but he thought Manchester made much more sense. "It's so central," he said, "To go to Boston it
only takes 40 minutes. To go to the mountains it only takes an hour, to go to the beach it only takes an
hour. We are so centered here."
So far, Manchester has been good to Cafe Momo. In the last year, Pandey said his sales have doubled, and
in January he added a second dining room to his Hanover Street location. While Manchester may seem a
little too far out of the larger metropolitan area of Boston to many business owners, Pandey believes
within the next several years Manchester will experience a "big boom in real estate and business."
He has already witnessed tremendous growth in the city's diversity. When Pandy first started his
restaurant, there were the standards in ethnic cuisine sprinkled throughout the city, with Mexican,
Chinese and Japanse restaurants being the most common. Today, Manchester is the home to Thai, Vietnamese,
Spanish, Korean, and Indian restaurants. "It's so positive here," he said. "Manchester's not turing into
a city like Lawrence, or Lowell. We are vibrant, like a West Coast city, with so many people of different
backgrounds. There's a really nice thing happening here." In April, Pandy plans on offering cooking
classes at Cafe Momo. He said he also hopes to hold an aucton of his artwork to benefit displaced people
in Nepal, record an album and write a cookbook. Although an ambitious undertaking, he said it is just a
matter of time before he accomplishes everything he hopes to. "You don't control time. Time controls you,"
Cafe Momo is located at 1064 Hanover Street, in Manchester. For information, call 603-623-3733