"Food is often used as a means of retaining cultural identity. People from different cultural backgrounds eat different foods. It helps us to discover attitudes, practices, and rituals surrounding food..."
Street MoMo in Downtown Oshawa is the latest addition to the local culinary scene available in the core of Motor City. This Indian-Asian cuisine restaurant was opened by Ratna (Raj) Khatri at the beginning of 2022 and named after the most popular food in Nepal.
“I named this new restaurant Street MoMo because I wanted to represent my country’s food. Momo means dumpling in English; it is the most popular food in Nepal. On the corner of every street, they have the momo counter and I liked to eat it when I was a kid. It was so delicious,” remembers Raj.
Opening during a pandemic did give him pause, says Raj, but he trusted his instincts.
“Taking challenges in challenging times makes me stronger. I believe,” he mused.
Raj launched Street MoMo with the intention of showcasing the traditional dishes of his home country, Nepal, as well as featuring family recipes handed down to him by his mother.
“Cooking is my passion and I am inspired by my mom,” Raj continues. “I use some of her recipes in my dishes. All the spices I made are all from scratch in my kitchen. I like to serve fresh and real food to my customers. Customers’ satisfaction is my goal and happiness.”
Raj didn’t originally find a location in Oshawa when he first moved to Durham Region in 2019. The right spot wasn’t available to him, and although he thought the city was right for his vision—“a beautiful small city with population,”—he ultimately settled on Downtown Whitby, opening his Balti Indian restaurant there.
“The response from people was very good, but at the same time I was looking forward to expanding my business. Of course, Oshawa was still in my mind, and finally I got the right place, and I built a brand-new restaurant,” he says.
Brand new is not unfamiliar to Raj.
Raj immigrated to Canada in 2010, working in several Indian restaurants before opening his own restaurant called Vindaloo Indian Cuisine, in Scarborough. He ran it for five years before opening Vindaloo Express in Morningside offering take-out and delivery.
“My background and my experience is in Indian cuisine. I have more than 17 years of experience in this position in high-end hotels like Le Méridian, Sheraton and Hilton in Asia,” he says
All his experience, expertise and heritage fuses together in his menu offering at Oshawa’s Street MoMo.
“Besides momos, we serve authentic Indian cuisine and I added some Thai and Hakka on the side. The popular dishes such as chicken lababdar, butter chicken, lamb rogan josh, salmon curry chow mein, chilli chicken, tandoori grills, naan breads and many more vegetable dishes are in the menus,” he says.
The addition of dishes from other Asian nations is a way, he says, to both celebrate his own heritage and to see the similarities shared with other traditions.
Food can represent cultural expression and connects people to their memories, values and heritage. Exploring diverse foods is great way to better understand world history and culture.
Not just Street MoMo then, but street wisdom too.
Street MoMo is located at 19 Simcoe Street South Oshawa