Montclair Food Review: Uncle Momo is the Lebanese Pythagorean Theorem

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Published September 26, 2016
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The Montclarion
Beef shawarma with pita bread on top is a dish served at Uncle Momo, a Lebanese French bistro located in Montclair, N.J. Photo by Tunmise Odufuye
Beef shawarma with pita bread on top is a dish served at Uncle Momo, a Lebanese French bistro located in Montclair, N.J. Photo by Tunmise Odufuye

Beef shawarma with pita bread on top is a dish served at Uncle Momo, a Lebanese French bistro located in Montclair, N.J.
Photo by Tunmise Odufuye

The most beautiful girl that I have ever met, besides my mother, is Lebanese. Protected in a hijab, her face gave off a radiance that only God could construct. Or, maybe suppressing her beauty only makes it more gravitating to unlock. Either way, pure beauty came from this one.

Then I thought to myself: the correlation between the beauty of a culture and the beauty in the culture’s food may or may not be corresponding, but any great theory needs testing. The perfect time to test it soon came. Being that I have never tried Lebanese food, Uncle Momo, located in Montclair, New Jersey and just a few minutes away from Montclair State’s campus, would have to be the “b squared” in this equation.

As my godsister Asjia and I conversed about unwanted managerial positions and the problem with persistent men who act like high school boys, the owner of Uncle Momo, Wisam, approached us with such humility. Sincere and optimistic, I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that he owned the place ― it acually took me a Google search to find out this information.

Uncle Momo’s beef shawarma dish. Photo by Tunmise Odufuye

Uncle Momo’s beef shawarma dish.
Photo by Tunmise Odufuye

He gave us countless suggestions, detailing every item on the menu that made us indecisive. He even gave us two sample drinks to try out. One of them was loomi, a lime that had been dried in the sun for almost a year.

My skepticism got the best of me. I ordered the safe and traditional American drink, lemonade. I felt so ashamed once he came out with the sample of loomi. It was bitter, yet lovely.

When you drink a soft drink like soda, all the contents swish around your entire mouth. The high-fructose corn syrup caresses your enamel, the sugar clings to your gums and the “artificial and natural flavors” whatever those are, dance around your cheeks. However, with loomi, once I drank it, it went straight to my soul. It stole my heart, teasing me to order it, but the lemonade was already on the table ― a regret I will never forget.

The only thing that could save my sorry decision was the beef shawarma that would hit the table within the next few minutes. I was quite surprised by how fast the meal was prepared. It contained strips of marinated beef, roasted with tahini sauce, onions, tomatoes, parsley and pickles with basmati rice on the side. The meal was beautiful indeed, but all of its contents were masked with two warm and fluffy slices of pita bread. It was just like the Lebanese girl ― the pita playing the role of the hijab of course.

Raspberry sorbet is one out of the few dessert items made at Uncle Momo. Photo by Tunmise Odufuye

Raspberry sorbet is one out of the few dessert items made at Uncle Momo.
Photo by Tunmise Odufuye

As nasty as it sounds, I don’t taste humans. So folks, I don’t know how the girl tastes but I can tell you one thing: this meal was exquisite. The basmati rice was light on my stomach due to the absence of the stomach expander: starch. The beef strips were seasoned perfectly, containing just the right amount of salt and spice to keep the meal at equilibrium. The pita, covering all of this goodness, was devoured in seconds. Pita from ShopRite is usually tough and thick, but this pita bread was light and easy to tear through.

To finish off the trifecta, I had a raspberry sorbet with pistachio sprinkled on top. It was a needed conclusion of sweet goodness, missing an artificial taste and opting for an organic makeup. My hypothesis is true: Lebanese girl plus Lebanese food equals “c squared”.

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