Back in July, American basketball player Stephen Curry shared a YouTube video where he ended the video by having some momos alongside Nispey Hussle. Today, I have with me the story behind that particular video and the MOMOlicious journey since they hit the road last year introducing and taking momos to a whole new demographic. Their food truck happens to be the first to sell jhol momos and offer a variety in the San Francisco Bay Area! The team express the challenges that come with selling food in different locations and the uphill task of offering authentic Nepali dishes, moving away from Indian dishes that’s better known in the West. It has definitely been a ride for MOMOlicious food truck but Hey, that’s why the wheels come in handy.
LEX: You’ve been on the road since 2017 with MOMOlicious – how has the journey been so far?
MOMOlicious: Talking about our start, we faced a lot of challenges with decision-makings to financials. The first challenge was what to sell. Nepali cuisine is very new to the “Bay Area”. There are a lot of restaurants with Nepali names but hardly any of them sell authentic Nepali food. The menu consists of large variety of Indian food and very few Nepali food that does not present Nepali flavour to the world. We wanted to take the risk and provide authentic Nepali flavours and put the name out there. We did not know if we would succeed in doing so but we took the risk.
Secondly, finance was also an issue. It looks like a very simple business, that we cook food in a small truck and move around. But it can be as costly as opening a brick and mortar. Third challenge was getting permits to operate. For brick and mortar all you need is one city and one county permit. But with food trucks that operate in different cities, it has to comply with every city and county where they operate.
After we completed all the process mentioned above the main challenge was how we would educate people about Nepali cuisine. Nepali cuisine has influences from north and the south so that was one of the approaches we took. In the beginning we really had a hard time selling momos because people were hesitant in spending money on something they did not know or had tasted before. So we handed out free samples to each and everyone passing by or reading the menu. We had passed out samples for atleast 6 months before people really got to know what momo were. The good side of it was 99% of people loved the sample and immediately ordered momos. People get amazed that this kind of food also exists in the world.
The sad part of the Food Truck is the business is very slow in the winter season due to the weather. It rains and gets cold so people do not come out. Some of the owners tend to take vacation during this time. Some struggling trucks sell their business.
It took us 1 year, a lot of patience, and commitment for idea to operation.
LEX: MOMOlicious seems like it has a pretty busy schedule! Can you share any exciting moments with people or their experiences of having momos?
MOMOlicious: People really started noticing us at the beginning of 2018. We currently work in around 10 cities across 4 counties in the Bay Area. We have a lot of customers telling us that they really love our food. There was an older couple that told us that they travelled 20 miles just to eat momos from us. Some customers have come up to us just to say that “Your momo was the best I have ever had”. Another customer said that he dreamt about our food and was there the very next day to eat our food. These are some of the stories shared by our customers. There are more on our Yelp! page.
LEX: How much momos are you selling on average?
MOMOlicious: On a busy dinner shift we serve around 300 people on a 4 hours window with half of them being momos and other half chowmein & curry. Lunches are of 3 hours and the number varies from 50-150 depending upon location.
LEX: That certainly sounds good! How much are the momos being sold for?
MOMOlicious: Our junior size has 5 pieces and price ranges from $6-$7 depending on the variety. Regular size is traditional 10 pieces price ranging from $10-$12.
LEX: What’s the best selling item from the food truck menu?
MOMOlicious: People love our combo menu items the most. Chicken curry with 4 pieces of momos and chowmein with 4 pieces of momos are the most popular value item. Besides that, kothay and fiery spicy momos are the most popular among non-Nepali customers. Nepalese prefer the classic Jhol Momo.
LEX: Who actually makes the momo?
MOMOlicious: As of now we make momos ourselves along with few staffs.
LEX: Of course, I have to ask about MOMOlicious feature on a popular youtube video with Stephen Curry – how did that come about?
MOMOlicious: Stephen Curry was one of the best things that happened to us yet. He was shooting for his YouTube series “5 minutes from Home” and we were invited by his team for one of the episodes in the 5 episode series. I must say both the guests enjoyed momos as they had it for the first time in their lives. We felt very proud to have introduced Nepal to them and the world. We have had many customers come to us after the video.
LEX: That’s incredible! What a moment aye! With the year slowly coming to an end, how has 2018 been for MOMOlicious overall?
MOMOlicious: 2018 has been a great year so far and we still have the holiday season coming ahead. “OFF The Grid” who manages food trucks in the Bay Area and has more than 100 trucks in their network told us that we are among the top 15 trucks for 2018. They do not publish the data or the names though. That was very exciting news for us.
LEX: Congratulations! That’s a nice high for 2018. Listen, I’m going to have to thank you for your time and dash for some momos now! All the best!