It’s August 1st in Toronto. The Blue Jays are back home and patios have finally re-opened. We’re making up for lost time in our search for the best #lunchunder10bucks in town. Our travels recently brought us west to Parkdale; always a good ‘hood for cheap eats, Momo Café and Zomsa Bar (1498 Queen St W) is one of the most memorable meals we’ve had in a ages. Your dollar goes a real long way here, and that’s just how we like it.
If you’ve yet to be acquainted, momos are a kind of dumpling native to the Himalayas. Stuffed with veggies, lamb, beef or chicken, they’re typically steamed; however, deep-fried and pan-fried renditions are common. The filling is cooked inside the dumpling, giving everything a soupy texture. At Momo Café and Zomsa Bar, Buchung and his wife, mom & pop, are hand-crimping over a dozen varietals. Nothing’s ever frozen. Large and plump, they’re served in enormous portions of 10 along with with various sauces & accoutrements. The best part is that everything on the menu is only $6.99! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… this is our kinda place.
Their steamed momos come stuffed with the filling of your choice, served with a sidecar of sauce. I’m told steaming means the dumping is a little more delicate, so they’re meant for dipping. Our favorite are the Veggie Jhol momos. This is a tomato-based Bengali curry sauce with distinct flavors of cardamom, cinnamon and coriander. It’s not overly spicy but really packs a punch in the flavor department… so it’s perfect for dunking!
Deep fried momos are a little more robust, so they can be tossed or lathered in sauces with aplomb…
- Kurkure (first picture) are tossed in breadcrumbs before hitting the oil. Served dry, they have a wonderful textured crunch that holds in all that lamb broth.
- Buchung is also doing an elevated rendition of Chaat… a super-popular Indian street snack whose name derives from licking one’s fingers while eating. Onion, coriander, sev, masala, amchoor, cumin and various types of pepper are sprinkled atop the momos which then fuse with the hot oil. Everything gets finished with a drizzle of yogurt and tamarind before serving. Think Tibetan nachos, and order with confidence for sharsies on the patio.
- We’re told that Fried Chilli Chicken Momos are, by far, the most popular item on the menu. They come fully submerged in a nuclear red chilli gravy. Crunchy, spicy, soupy, cheap, delicious. What’s not to like?
Pan-fired momos are also on the menu. These are smaller in size but big on the texture (somehow chewy and crunchy at the same time). Served with cold salad items and a coriander hot sauce, these bad boys travel particularly well for takeout.
Momo Café and Zomsa Bar, also has a small hot table with a half-dozen meat and veggie options if a thali is more your speed. Combination plates are only $5.99!
Zomsa means “meeting place,” and this spot has a sweet side patio to meet for cheap eats and for awesome people watching (Parkdale edition). The same family owns Little Tibet across the street if you’re looking for finer dining come dinner time. Shaptak!!!