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.
OmAddress: 4382 St .LaurentPhone Number: (514) 287-3553Price range: $15-20 per person