#DYK Toronto is home to one of the world’s largest Tibetan expat communities? Head to west-end’s Parkdale to reap the culinary benefits.
With Queen Street West’s Little Tibet playing home to the largest expat Tibetan population outside of Asia, it should come as no surprise that it is also home to some extraordinary Tibetan eats.
Now there are a few differences, in that Tibetan chefs make use of local protein sources like goat, yak and mutton. Here in Toronto, Tibetan restaurants usually serve their meals up with meats like chicken or beef. But believe you me, nothing is lost when it comes to authentic flavours. And with culinary influences from neighbouring countries like India and Nepal, Tibetan food is like a world of flavours stretching as high and wide as the Himalayan mountains.
I was first introduced to Tibetan food a few years ago when I was invited on a momo crawl. “What is a momo crawl,” you ask? First off, let’s make sure you know what a momo is. A momo is a fried or steamed Tibetan dumpling filled with a meat- and/or vegetable-based stuffing. Now back to the crawl. A momo crawl is when you gather a bunch of food-loving friends and set out to eat as many momos as you can from as many great restaurants as possible!
But as incredible as they are, momos aren’t the only reason you should be excited about visiting Little Tibet, in the west-end’s Parkdale neighbourhood. Here are 5 spots to hit in Little Tibet and the menu items you must try.
Can’t-miss restaurant #1: Loga’s Corner
People love this place—I mean really love it. When your restaurant fans include TV personality/restaurateur Eddie Huang, then you’re doing something right. However, the biggest celeb at Loga’s Corner may be the owner, who gets as many rave reviews as the steamed or fried momos. Pro tip: add pickled daikon and extra hot sauce to your order. 216 Close Ave.
Can’t-miss restaurant #2: Little Tibet
Want an authentic taste of Tibet, alongside fusion influences from Hakka, Indian and Mongolian cuisines? Then Little Tibet is the spot for you. My recommendations for a unique and flavour-packed start to your meal are to order the gyuma (Tibetan blood sausage) and dropa-khasta (spicy beef tripe). They also have vegetarian options like sweet and spicy tofu or wok-fried eggplant in chili bean sauce. 1149A Queen St. W.
Can’t-miss restaurant #3: Himalayan Kitchen
At the beginning of this article I gave you an intro to momos. Now it’s the time to put that knowledge to use and decide on what kind of momo to eat first. Himalayan Kitchen has mo’ momos than most other places, with around 20 different options. They include chef’s special momos like honey chili, tikka, malai masala and Manchurian. This spot is practically a momo crawl in and of itself. 1526 Queen St. W.
Can’t-miss restaurant #4: Shangrila Tibetan & Asian Cuisine
Winters in Tibet can get a little rough, so it should come as no surprise that some of the best Tibetan dishes are hearty, soul-warming broths, soups and stews. Hit up Shangrila for traditional staples like aloo phingsha, which is made with beef, potatoes, vermicelli in a Tibetan gravy. Another must try is then-thuk, homemade hand-pulled noodles simmered in a thick broth flavoured with fresh herbs and spices. 1600 Queen St. W.
Can’t-miss restaurant #5: Tiny Cafe
I’m big on recommendations. Not only giving them (wink wink) but I love receiving them as well. So, when I hear “best momos in Toronto” almost every time I hear someone speak about Tiny Cafe, it goes to the top of my list—and needs to go onto yours as well! I’ve even heard someone say they dream about these momos. Tiny Cafe also sells frozen/uncooked momos to enjoy at home. So, after one of those dreams you can head to your own kitchen and cook some up. 10 Macdonell Ave.
Getting to Little Tibet, in Parkdale:
- Take the 501 Queen streetcar to the Lansdowne Avenue stop
- Or take the Bloor-Danforth subway line to Lansdowne station, and then the 47 Lansdowne bus southbound to Queen Street West