Everyone knows that the best parties always end in the kitchen. Meet Lhundup Gyatso, owner of TC Tibetan Momo, a Toronto-based eatery specializing in momos, that he runs with his wife, owner and momo-maker Tsewang Chodon.
TC TIBETAN MOMO
What led you to open a momo business?
TC Tibetan Momo started back in 2012 when a voluntary group started selling momos at Wychwood Barn. From there, we slowly started our own business by going to different farmers’ markets in Toronto.
We chose momos because they are very popular in Tibetan communities. In Nepal, and some of the Himalayan regions, momos have become very famous, so common, they’re now known as a popular street food. So obviously in our community, we were born with momos, but it was important to us to share our Tibetan cuisine with the GTA. Toronto is such a beautiful, multicultural city, that has so many types of communities. The beauty of Toronto is that the people that live here have no hesitation trying new dishes.
Do you have a favorite momo?
Yes! I love beef momos. I’ve been eating momos for over 30 years, but I never get tired of them. I don’t have them every day, because momos are not normally an everyday food. They are more like a festival or event food. Since momos have become a street food in India and Nepal, they can be eaten often, but traditionally they are for festivities.
What’s your drink of choice?
So normally, Tibetan people love Tibetan butter tea. This is a typical Tibetan hot tea that is a mixture of butter, milk, and salt. It’s so common; we bring it to the market once in a while, and people love it, but I am not into it. I love coffee. I love Americano!
Do you have a favorite ingredient to cook with?
Garlic and ginger. We use them a lot. We use them in a lot of our momos, in all of our momo sauces, and in pickles, like kimchi, pickled cabbage, and daikon pickle. Garlic is also great because Tibetan people believe that garlic acts as an antibiotic, it’s used as a medicine.
What is a dish that you enjoy eating at home?
I love momo, but my favorite dish is pork curry. I don’t cook it a lot because most of the time I’m already in my kitchen, so I typically make it once in a month. Honestly though, any dish related to pork is a dish that I’m a fan of, whether it’s marinated pork, or in a curry, whatever form pork comes in, I love it!
I am of Tibetan origin but was born and raised in Nepal. What people often do in Nepal is just cook the whole pork, then marinate it, and then keep it in the freezer. It’s so good, so so tender, and you can just cut it in half, and put it in between bread like a sandwich.
What do you enjoy doing outside of your restaurant life?
I really like to be social. I go to gatherings, big gatherings, and talk to people. Most weekends I’m at farmers’ markets – one of my favorite places to go. I enjoy being there, because I see a lot of different people, from a lot of different backgrounds, and we try to share information about our food, our background, our culture. I enjoy it! I love to talk, I’m very open.
What is the best part of working with Ontario food?
Connecting with producers. We are a small business that wants to support other local businesses. Helping Ontarians is a big part of our life, and using Ontario products helps producers, and our business, because it helps growers to grow more, and helps small businesses to offer a bit more. Sometimes you’re paying a little bit more, but you’re getting really good food.
Why is Feast On important to you and your restaurant?
Being part of Feast On means that we are supporting the products that are grown and made in Ontario, which helps farmers, food activists, and so many others. We are proud to be associated with a community like Feast On.
What does your perfect weekend in Toronto look like?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m a social guy. I love going out. I’m really eager to go to a big show, like a soccer match, or maybe a concert or something like that. I like to go and get a couple glasses of beer at breweries at places like Henderson Brewing Co. and go out with friends, that’s really it.