As part of Tom Douglas’ recently opened trio of restaurants in the blossoming South Lake Union neighborhood, Ting Momo is a Tibetan dumpling house run by chef, Dekyi Thonden. While the adjacent Bravehorse Tavern is serving up pretzels, burgers, and beer and the downstairs neighbor Cuoco is whipping up Italian pasta dishes, Ting Momo is offering hungry Seattle restaurant goers something uniquely different.
Dekyi’s dumplings are a Tibetan delicacy in the style that has become a very popular street food. Dekyi’s unique combination of seasonings, tamarind, orange zest, soy and cumin will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more. These dumplings are hearty and aim to stay true to their Tibetan and Indian influences. The heart of Dekyi’s menu consists of momo, samo, and tingmo plates.
Momo are hearty steamed Tibetan dumplings with golden Colorado yak, star anise, bay leaf and cranberry.
Samo are flaky fried Tibetan dumplings with pork, cumin, coriander and apricot. A vegetarian samo with potato, English peas, oyster mushroom and orange zest is also available.
Tingmo are slightly larger Tibetan soft steamed bread dumplings that come in two vegetarian options.
Other menu items available are daily steamed buns with a rotating meat filling, hand-pulled noodles, soups, salads, and desserts. You order your food at the counter and wait for your name to be called. After placing my order, my name was called before I can even finish a lap around the small café.
My personal favorite was the samo. The flaky crunchiness of the fried dough surrendered itself to the savory and curry like flavor of the juicy pork. Just when I thought that this was one of the best bites of anything I’ve ever sunk my teeth into, the sweet tartness of the apricot shined through further escalating my state of bliss.
What’s even more unique than her food is Dekyi’s remarkable story as a Tibetan refugee and her journey that brought her to the United States. Since escaping Tibet, she has never been able to return to her home country. Every momo and dumpling that is made is a tribute to her homeland, journey, and father.
It would probably be the pinnacle of anyone’s career to cook for someone like the President of the United States, but Dekyi attained what many would consider a much higher honor: meeting and cooking for the Dali Lama. I had the privilege to chat with Dekyi Thonden and she shared with me what it was like meeting the religious leader.
A photo Adorning the walls at Ting Momo captures Dekyi Thonden in a rare photograph with the Dali Lama.
I’ve sought out restaurants featured on shows such as The Best Thing I Ever Ate or Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I’ve also tracked down chefs who were contestants on shows such as Top Chef and Iron Chef. But I’ve never felt as astonished as I did while walking away from Ting Momo and Dekyi Thondon’s story, life, and food.