“Su-Beoreg & Monta Factory, a tiny family-run business in the Armenian-American stronghold of north Pasadena, is about as far away from a factory than the mind can wander. Yerevan native Evelina Yegiazaryan makes almost every morsel of food by hand. The space hosts only three tables.
Husband Grant and son Jack are her only co-workers. Yet despite all the limitations, they make the situation work very well.
“In Armenia, this is every child’s favorite food,” Grant Yegiazaryan waxed poetic about monta, a specialty of his family at Su-Beoreg & Monta Factory in the Armenian hotbed of north Pasadena. “When you say monta, many customers start to shake.” It’s not like I started having convulsions when my tray of Sini-Monta ($8) arrived hot and steaming. However, it is accurate to say that these tiny beef dumplings caused me to enter a fit of joy.
Grant, wife Evelina, and Jack have made su-beoreg (cheese pies) and monta for the past decade, and the family added a grab-and-go option in the past year. The tiny space touts a red sign and houses a single half-moon-shaped table on the patio. The Yegiazaryans originally hail from Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. Monta is a popular comfort food in their homeland, but requires a lot of work. Grant said, “Mother never had time to make this, so grandma had to make it.”
Sini-Monta are tiny, open-topped, ship-shaped beef dumplings seasoned with sumac and red pepper that crisp at the edges during baking. When I ordered the dish, Evelina asked, ‘Would you like me to make it the way I like?’ Of course. That meant slathering the interconnected dumpling network with spicy pepper paste and pungent garlic cream sauce folded with yogurt. Delicious. It’s hard to imagine ordering monta another way moving forward.”
*Joshua Lurie created the Los Angeles-based website <http://www.foodgps.com/> Food GPS in 2005, and continues to showcase the best food and drink, regardless of price or cuisine, while sharing stories of people behind the flavors.