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Om: a taste of Tibet

February 10, 2010

Warm up with traditional Tibetan cuisine
Carolyn Gregoire
McGill Tribune (Canada)
February 9, 2010

Montreal -- The prospect of a big, steaming bowl
of noodle soup was what originally drew me to Om
Tibetan restaurant on St. Laurent - a friend of
mine boasted that he had found the best bowl of
soup in the city. Initially sceptical, I finally
tried it for myself and have many times since
gone back for more. Hands down the most delicious
soup I've ever had, Om's thenthuk - a hearty
concoction traditionally made to keep Tibetan
nomads warm during long Himalayan winters - is
perfect for a cold February night. A delightfully
spiced, hearty broth with juicy chicken or beef,
bok choy, and thick squares of homemade pasta,
the thenthuk arrives in a huge bowl containing at
least three servings - and you'll have leftovers the next day.

Om serves authentic Tibetan and Indian food at
reasonable prices in a zen-like, ambient setting.
Befitting of a restaurant named after an Indian
prayer chant and symbol of peace, harmony and
bliss, Om immediately makes its visitors feel
relaxed and welcome. Crimson walls, photos of the
Dalai Lama, colourful Tibetan prayer flags and
photos of the Tibetan countryside adorn the
walls, ushering you from the busyness of St.
Laurent into a serene dining enclave. Since I'm
lucky enough to live just a block away, I've been
to Om many times. I always try to bring a group
of friends so we can sample as many dishes as
possible. The service is friendly and always
fast, but chances are you'll want to linger.

A traditional Tibetan specialty on the menu is
the momos, doughy Himalayan dim sum-style
dumplings. The soft dough (tsampsa) is made from
barley flour, a Tibetan staple, and filled with a
meat, potato, or cheese mixture. A traditional
delicacy in Tibet and popular Nepalese street
food, they're a must-try if you truly want to get
the Tibetan culinary experience. If dumplings
aren't your ideal appetizer, try the pakoras - a
delicious plate of assorted veggies fried in a
homemade batter that's perfect for sharing. Om
also has the best butter chicken I've had in
Montreal (with the notable exception of Le Taj on
Stanley). The chicken is perfectly cooked and
never overdone, the sauce-to-chicken ratio is
perfect, and the sauce itself has a wonderfully
unique blend of spices and herbs that sets it
apart from other varieties. There's also a
delicious butter tofu dish on the menu for
vegetarians. That being said, I recommend you try
some of the Tibetan items on the menu that can't
be found at solely Indian restaurants.

No matter how full you are, don't leave without
trying the Tibetan sweet bread. Reminiscent of
funnel cake, it's a fried, doughy, sweet mound
that's somewhere between a dinner roll and a
donut. Though intended as a side dish, it also
makes a great desert when accompanied by a cup of
Tibetan butter tea (po cha). Dessert is the only
part of the experience that left something to be
desired. The Dha - sweet rice with yogurt - is
little more than a slightly sweet bowl of rice with raisins.

So, next time it's cold, snowy, and you're
looking for some distinctive and delectable
Tibetan cuisine and a super-serene atmosphere, just say Om.

Address: 4382 St .Laurent
Phone Number: (514) 287-3553
Price range: $15-20 per person
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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