Last fall I wrote with a broken heart about the loss of the local Indian-Nepalese restaurant, Mount Everest Momo, to a raging fire. In November of 2014 an electrical problem sparked a fire in the strip mall that housed the Momo shop. That fire smoldered through the hidden ramparts of the building till it reached the state liquor store where the sparks exploded with volcanic force. The liquor store and the shops on either side of it were obliterated. Mount Everest Momo was located two doors from the liquor store. Its walls remained, but the space was a wreck. The beautiful hand-painted murals were obliterated by charcoal soot.
Coming, just before Christmas, I worried terribly about the outcome for owner Raj Shrestha. Would he have enough capital to recover his losses? Would insurance be enough to carry him and his family through the lack of business? Initially, he posted an optimistic sign stating that he’d reopen in a month. I feared that legal entanglements would hinder reopening in this site for years to come. But Raj is a man of incredible drive and persistence. He has done the impossible! On May 1st, just six months after the conflagration, Mount Everest Momo will reopen in its original location at 2144 Broadway Avenue in Boise.Not only is the Momo shop reopening in record time, but Raj made Momos out of bricks. While the lawyers haggled over liability and insurance payments, Raj returned to Nepal to and enrolled in professional cooking school. You see, Mr. Shrestha is a trained engineer, not a trained cook. “Never in my wildest dreams,” he says, “did I ever imagine I’d be cooking for a living!” What he knew about cooking, he learned after coming to the states. Of course, he had the help of his wife’s family recipes, but cooking for a family and cooking for a restaurant are two completely different beasts. Raj is eager to show off his newly refined techniques in an expanded menu and tweaked Momo preparation.
The reopening, coming as it does, on the heels of the disastrous earthquake in Raj’s hometown of Katmandu, seems especially poignant. Ask him, and he will show you some heartbreaking before and after photos from home. I’m wishing Raj and his family great success the second time around and can’t wait to visit the restaurant!