Thinking of Indian or Chinese tonight? Stop — it’s time to break away from the usual, and shake things up. Variety is the spice of life, after all. As Little Tibet emerges in Parkdale as the latest culinary scene in Toronto’s multicultural food mecca, Vv Magazine takes a first-hand look at some of the neighbourhood’s already beloved Tibetan restaurants. Parkdale’s Little Tibet the latest culinary scene on the rise? We thought we’d eat our way to the answer…
Venture to Parkdale and take your palate on a Tibetan adventure. Are you are asking yourself, “What the heck is Tibetan cuisine?” Don’t worry, I asked myself the same thing. As I strolled down Queen West, I came across Om Restaurant, Le Tibet, and Tibet Kitchen, just to name a few, and I quickly realized that Tibetan cuisine has a prominent presence in Parkdale. In fact, Parkdale houses one of the largest Tibetan populations outside of Asia. Who knew?
The political situation in Tibet is complicated, but to give you a quick history lesson Tibet used to be an independent country until China invaded their land in 1951. The political turmoil forced many Tibetans to flee as refugees and since it is easier to claim refugee status in Canada as oppose to other western countries, many Tibetans made their way to the True North Strong and Free. They have been able to preserve their culture in their new home and have created a community in Parkdale that helps the newcomers adjust to life in Canada.
Enough of the serious stuff — let’s talk about the food. Traditionally, Tibetans did not have access to many ingredients and most refugees that immigrated to India and Nepal ate very simply with most meal consisting of bo cha (salty tea), barley, and yak meat. The cuisine that we enjoy today is much more elaborate and is a reflection of the evolution in Tibetan cuisine. Many dishes are influenced by its Indian, Chinese, and Nepalese neighbours and include ingredients that are unusual to the North American palate such as goat, yak, and muttonn. No need to be alarmed, if you give it a chance, Tibetan cuisine will warm your soul, please your senses, and not break your bank. A hearty meal for two can cost as little as $30.00.
The Dalai Lama once said, “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” Since food makes me happy, my action was to work my way through some of Tibet’s most popular dishes. Sacrificing myself for the sake of better understanding how these unusual ingredients come together was a task I was happy to take on.
Check out some of the must have Tibetan dishes…
What are some of your favourite hotspots in Parksdale’s emerging Little Tibet? If you’re familiar with Tibetan food, share with us your favourite restaurants and dishes in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.