Vegetarian or vegan? Then you’ll definitely know about Padmandi. Or Noorish. But how about Loma House? What if I told you that I think Loma House is the best vegetarian restaurant I’ve been to? Yea, go figure that a small restaurant in south Edmonton would outcook Padmanadi and Noorish.
It all started with Prasann Patel, a freelance photographer I met through my friend Kelvin at Avenue magazine’s “Best Restaurants in Edmonton” tasting event. After a few exchanges on Facebook, I met up with Prasann and his girlfriend Aasttha for dinner at Loma House, one of their favorite dining spots. Prasann took on the fun of photographing the food while I tried to remember what I thought about all the dishes! It was pretty exciting collaboration, a first for LET’S OM NOM. Kelvin was my date for the night although what I thought was going to be the four of us turned into a table of ten? Eleven? The more the merrier! It ended up being a fabulous night with great food and great conversations!
I’ll have to say that Prasann‘s main photography style is portraits and people. I’ve always admired that kind of photography versus any other. It took me months to get over the fact that some diners would look at me strangely when I pulled out a phone to take photos, or God forbid, a bigger camera now. I get crazy looks from people when they think I’m photographing them when really I’m just trying to get a photo of the restaurant! Photographing food is also not as time sensitive either. I can change a plate around, check out lighting, adjust settings, and that dish is still there. Kudos to Prasann for his work and it was so exciting to talk to him about his line of work!
Prasann, along with Aasttha and Kelvin, have also started up I Heart YEG, a project to initiate and stimulate conversation on why we love our city and to hopefully change negative or indifferent opinions on Edmonton. You might have seen them on Whyte Avenue and at the Whyte Avenue Art Walk with a large chalkboard with lines of “I heart YEG because _____”. I got a glimpse of their board after dinner and it was amazing to see how much love Edmonton was getting from its residents. I have no problem saying I heart YEG because of the food scene. It’s amazing at how people (especially Edmontonians) love food and are starting to pay attention to what they’re eating, where it’s coming from, and why they’re eating it. Check out their Twitter page (@iheartyeg) or the hashtag #iheartyeg to spread some love!
As much as getting to know everybody and talking about things we were passionate about, the food was equally noteworthy. Loma House serves up vegetarian (and vegan friendly) dishes, most of which is Malaysian or Indian inspired. I think everybody at the table ordered the “Daily Special” that night, a bargain at $13.50 which includes a soup, your choice of entree, and dessert. I was told the miso soup was delicious…
Other soup options include a vegetable soup or hot and sour. I personally ordered the hot and sour and it was one of the best soups I’ve ever had. So addicting and just enough heat to get your tummy going. Doesn’t even matter than it’s summer outside, this soup was amazing! Not too sour either, which becomes a bit of a problem for me.
A couple of people ordered the spicy beef, the “beef” made up of soy protein and mushroom stems. You’d be surprised at how much it actually tasted like beef. Texture usually is the biggest giveaway but not in this case. Best “beef” I’ve come across to date that didn’t taste like mashed up brown tofu. Mixed in with a stir fry of broccoli, baby corn, carrots, and bell peppers in a sweet and spicy sauce with a side of rice.
I ordered the curry vegetable with tofu entree, not thoroughly thinking it though that maybe I should have ordered a “beef” or “chicken” dish. But that’s okay, I got a bite of most people’s dishes (how kind!). My curry sauce was creamy and very Thai or Malaysian inspired, not Indian for those of you who are wondering. The tofu was of medium firmness, just the way I like it, and held its shape despite being stewed with the sauce. So delicious! I contemplated packing up the sauce to go and throwing in more vegetables and tofu at home but then I’d be the weirdo who took sauce home.
Other plates for the night: a curry fried rice (served with some soy nuggets) and curry vermicelli with satay kebab, a soy ham (seitan, wheat meat). Bold colours and flavors made both dishes a win for their respective diners. Both protein components also had completely different textures as well, which is awesome. Nothing worse than having the “beef” also taste like the “chicken” or the tofu.
Further down the table, one friend deviated from the combination meal and ordered the summer special, a curry udon bowl. It came out on this little contraption, fueled and heated to keep the cute bowl warm. Sharing a bowl seemed to be a bit difficult though, with a mesh spider and spoon to scoop things out. Probably ideal for just eating straight out of the hot bowl methinks.
And a meal isn’t complete without dessert and Loma House takes care of that as well. Ice cream for Prasann, although he’s pretty sure it just came from a grocery. This was the only option that wasn’t dairy free.
The star of desserts for me was the non-dairy (aka vegan friendly) chocolate pudding. Not too sweet, but rich and decadent, much like you’d expect of a full fledged chocolate pudding. And they came out in the cutest little cups!
The theme of cute plating continued with the fresh fruit plate, served with a side of glaze. There was a lot of “where did you get this?” for the owner that night! Adorable.
Overall? The meal was fantastic and greatly unexpected. The combo is a good value and everybody at our table left happy! We got to know the owner a little better and discovered why their restaurant was so successful in creating beautiful dishes, amazing flavors, and great “meat” products. With seven sister restaurants based in Ontario, and their own vegan products manufactured in Mississauga, Loma House was able to bring that over to Edmonton two years ago. The restaurant is modest in size, seating around 30 people. Three industrial refrigerators line the side wall with take out products for you to bring home, including the “beef” and “chicken” products. I’ll have to keep that in mind when I want to sub out meat for a meal! It would be great to experiment with their products. The owner, Jeff Kao, was so friendly and eager to answer all of our questions. Loved it! Google maps is highly recommended to find the space, as the storefront isn’t actually on the main 23 Ave but inside a strip mall with an inner road running parallel to 23 Ave. Can’t wait to come back to try their dim sum dishes or main stand alone dishes which would be perfect to share for a family meal.
Thanks Prasann for the photos and the amazing night with his friends and family! I had a ton of fun doing it and hope to work with him again in the near future. Make sure to check out his portfolio at his website, www.prasannpatel.com.Loma House
9143 – 23 Ave