By Lory Diaz
The Lower Ossington restaurant strip has a new neighbour: Hungry Amoo at 74 Ossington Avenue. Chef Houman Pourmarz’s restaurant, which roughly translates to ‘Hungry Uncle’, brings Middle-Eastern-inspired cuisine and some fresh flavours to this trendy Toronto area. Pourmanz’s many travels abroad have resulted in a vast catalogue of inspiration, which can be seen from the seasonal menu changes, as well as the use of modern approaches to traditional dishes, flavours, and techniques.
Hungry Amoo’s interior lends itself to a social night out with friends or a long, chatty family gathering: large communal tables at the front of the house, with an intimate dining area in the back. The building itself has a mini courtyard-like design feature allowing for natural light to pour into the dining area. Black and white posters of classic Hollywood stars decorate the area, as the windows are framed with copper bookshelves made in-house.
We sampled a handful of menu items, such as the seafood manti: a Turkish dumpling typically stuffed with spiced lamb or beef. Chef Pourmarz has chosen shrimp and crab instead, served in a tomato-based sauce, and topped with thinly sliced fennel. The flavours went well together, and the fresh fennel made this feel like a great spring or summer dish.
Next was the tamarind beef: brisket with cashews in a date sauce. This dish sounds incredibly simple, but it was delicious. I love the tanginess of tamarind, so I could have gone for a much stronger flavour, but the cashews contribute a delicious texture and creaminess that pairs well with this savoury dish. Consider this dish if you’re sharing, as it does come in quite a generous serving.
We then went for the whole roasted eggplant. This comes served atop lentils and mushrooms, and drizzled with a tahini yogurt sauce. The tahini flavour doesn’t quite punch through, but the roasted eggplant itself smells fantastic, and the lentil-mushroom combination tastes great. Nice to know that both omnivores and vegetarians can find items on this menu without compromising on flavour!
The menu at Hungry Amoo has recently changed, so the addition of the slow-cooked lamb rump caught our attention. This dish comes with roasted purple potatoes, rosemary mint jelly, and cucumber, and is served with soubise (onion béchamel sauce). The lamb is cooked to perfection, and incredibly juicy, while the cucumber retains some crunch, introducing vibrancy and freshness. This was an absolute favourite, and I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for an alternative to the classic steak dinner. Delicious!
Hungry Amoo is relatively new to Ossington, having only opened in the second half of 2016. The recent menu change clearly indicates that Chef Pourmarz is determined to keep things fresh though, adding a delicious new realm of flavour to this restaurant strip in downtown Toronto. If you’re looking for dinner before your night out, or want to challenge your family to some new flavours, definitely keep Hungry Amoo in mind!
Hungry Amoo, 74 Ossington Avenue, 647-352-7474
If you’re looking for other Middle Eastern restaurants in Toronto, check out Paramount Fine Foods at Shops at Don Mills.