Loga's Corner Interview

Loga

Loga

We went to Loga's Corner on the word of a Nepali friend of ours. The momos were as good as advertised, and then some. Easily some of the best in Parkdale, and the hot sauce was on another level. We knew we had to sit down with Loga himself, as his restaurant was off to a great start, and we could tell there was a great story behind it all.

AD: So ya. Thank you very much for doing this. So let me just ask you, how is business going?

Loga: Uhhh. Very good ya.

AD: Is it busy? Is it usually busy?

Loga: Not very very busy. Not very very slow. Middle. Ya. Because things I started last last year and I can't be very very good. Ya. (very good). This more than expect...expectation. This is more than my expectation. I never expect like that no. Because thing is...running small takeout business and then...most of the people like my dumpling.

AD: I like your dumplings

L: Ya ya. But that...that is more than I feel good. (Awesome). Whenever people come and then they come with a "You're dumplings are very good."

AD: So how long have you been doing this? How long have you been making Momos.

L: One year and something.

AD: In this restaurant?

L: Ya...in this restaurant.

AD: But overall, in your entire life before you started this restaurant? How long have you been making them?

L: No. In India, I used to make...I used to make a very little. Very little and then only...only...only...in family. Sometime I have to make dinner, lunch then I make my wife and me...make Momos. And this one is most Tibetan...they know how to make. Ya. There is nothing special in making this kind of Momo. This most special thing is to know you have to...the main thing is to you have to respect people, client and then uhh...serve little...good quality. Meat should be very good and onion, when you cut...you have to cut...uhh...i mean...little bit small and onion each when you mix you have to do a little hard work. That's all. Because the thing is I started last last year and I can't be very very good. Ya. (very good). This more than expect...expectation. This is more than my expectation. I never expect like that no. Because thing is...running small takeout business and then...most of the people like my dumpling.

Sometime I make a little Momo and I gave it to them and then most of them...most of people...yes, classmates, they said “Ohh. You make very good Momo” and then slowly ya, in Canada, you have to do something you know? And to find work is not easy.
— Loga

AD: I like your dumplings

L: Ya ya. But that...that is more than I feel good. (Awesome). Whenever people come and then they come with a "You're dumplings are very good. Ya

AD: So how long have you been doing this? How long have you been making Momos.

L: One year and something.

AD: In this restaurant?

L: Ya...in this restaurant.

AD: But overall, in your entire life before you started this restaurant? How long have you been making them?

L: No. In India, I used to make...I used to make a very little. Very little and then only...only...only...in family. Sometime I have to make dinner, lunch then I make my wife and me...make Momos. And this one is most Tibetan...they know how to make. Ya. There is nothing special in making this kind of Momo. This most special thing is to know you have to...the main thing is to you have to respect people, client and then uhh...serve little...good quality. Meat should be very good and onion, when you cut...you have to cut...uhh...i mean...little bit small and onion each when you mix you have to do a little hard work. That's all.

AD: And when did you start selling Momos? Because you said you were making them for your family once but then eventually you thought these Momos...

L: I came to Toronto in 2012, March. And then sometime in school. Sometime I make a little Momo and I gave it to them and then most of them...most of people...yes, classmates, they said "Ohh. You make very good Momo" and then slowly ya, in Canada, you have to do something you know? And to find work is not easy. To make money is not easy and then my wife...uhh keep on thinking that to make this money, and then she makes good money but she makes good momo and then we start someone is here setting... I mean...uhh...small takeout restaurant. And then I bought it from him. Like that...there is nothing special. Only a little hard work. Some people think..."ohh you have so many recipes... so many things. They just exaggerate. This one is very simple. Uh-huh. A little hard work. You need a little hard work. That's all.

AD: Before you opened this restaurant, my friend was telling me you used to sell Momos out of your apartment. How did people hear about your Momos.

L: Sometimes I do. I did about nearly about 6-7 months. I cannot because I cannot sell so many things you know. And sometime I do a little delivery...a little delivering. And then they say "Ohh, you're Momo is the best." And this why I thought.

AD: I remember looking through the menu because you said, you know you don't need so many recipes, you just need to keep it simple. I noticed with your menu it's very simple. (Ya, very simple). It's just a lot of Momos. So why that decision? Why didn't...I mean other places will have a lot of and serve a lot of things and your restaurant just serves Momos.

L: Because the thing is most...I mean...black, white, green, everybody like, everybody knows that what is Momo. And every country they have same sort of like Momo. And different...different name. Different little I mean. Different ingredients. And that my one and so many black people come and they say "Ohh good." So many Indian people came to my place and then "they are good." And then white people. They like. I know that they like my dumpling. That's why. And I make 2-3 items and potato ball. In Canada, so many people like potato. And that to make potato. You have to...you have to...I never add so many spices. Spicy. Simple. Very simple. And that potato should be cooked well. So that it can mash very easily. Like that.

AD: Ok. Very very simple. So why don't you tell me a little about you are making food, since you were very very young. You've talked about making food in India. You came here and you still make a lot of food. Did you ever intend to be a chef or a cook? Did you ever intend to own a restaurant?

L: Uhh. No because in India you need a lot of money. A lot of money and then you need back support. I have no like that no. Ah-ha. And I'm not rich...rich person. Poor person and then to own a restaurant in India, you need a lot of money. And here, so many people are supporting and most of my friend, my Tibetan friends they lend me $5000, $6000, $5000 like ya. Like that, no? I have few good friends. Uh-huh. And then they trust me and they come to know me. I'm a good man and then they lend me $5000, $5000, $6000, $3000 like that.

AD: That's really nice of your friends. They do that.

L: And most of my friend, they inspired me by. "Come on Loga, you have to do that. Don't...uhh...you know." When it start from the scratch, it little bit difficult. Ya. And then everything will be ok. And then I thought there is only 9 chairs. And then 9 chairs and 2 tables small. Very small. And I did a little math. If I make. If one table, one chair makes $1...I mean $10 everyday, uhh...forget about wear and tears. Tax. Each and everything. Rent. For example, if I take out that, profit I can make 1 chair $10. and 9 each is 270. That means $2700 for one month. Then I thought this a good money. I calculate like that no? And then I start.

AD: And each chair makes more than $10 right?

L: Ya and then slowly, my business, what do you call...spread.

AD: So tell me about what is your favourite thing to eat...you know like you made Momos and you make all these other Tibetan things but is there something that is your favourite thing in the world to eat?

L: There's. I mean. Nothing favourite.

AD: Nothing is your favourite?

L: Nothing favourite in my mind. All food is same but especially in India. To I mean...for example, you won't get everything. Momo. Because things in Momo, you have to buy meat, you have to spend. You have to invest a lot of time. Couple of hours making. And there is no, what do you there call? Uhh...you have to cut down. You have to cut down. You can't grind. And someone will help you to grind. There is no such like that. You have to all and then you...lot of work. Maybe one year, three Momos. Five Momo like that. Ya. And then whole family gather and we sit and eat. And here, we have a lot of beef. Very cheap. Onion. Very cheap. And then, beef. They'll grind you and give it to you. Onions you have to mix. Very little work.

AD: And then tell me about business. You said that business is going pretty good right but was it always well? Like you mentioned earlier it was very challenging to start so why don't you just talk about what was when you started like what was very challenging bout the restaurant business?

L: Challenging. Because things in my day. It keeps on, making. Most people. They think only "What is Momo?" They don't know. And then, again have to do like that no. I'll have to show what is Momo. I gift them a free. For example, 1 Momo and then 1 potato. Nobody knows potato. This one is home-made. Maybe white people never saw it like that no? Maybe, who...I mean went to India. They saw that design. This first, maybe first time in Canada. Potato ball like that. Ya. I just. I mean. Name it potato ballf. Because it looks like a ball and mashed potato and then you'll have a very simple ingredient. Cumin and little bit of tamarind. A little bit...but you have to...I mean fry a little bit and then mix. And then make dough. Light dough. And put that you have to make ball and deep fry. That one maybe. You won't find that in Canada. I don't know.

AD: So the hard part was telling people (ya ya ya ya) about this food?

L: And then most...I mean...most people...Chinese people they know what is dumpling. And then Chinese they never...maybe some...some people know what is Momo. Momo means Tibetan word for "wrap." Spaghetti. Wrap Momo. Momo means wrap. They don't know what is Momo. And then when I say it....uhh...tell them it is dumpling. And then they'll say "ohh." And then they don't want. I have to give them a taste. "Can you taste? I won't charge for it. Free. And then uhh for about 5 or 6 months, I keep...I kept doing like that no? This is taste of dumpling. I give one or two free. And most of the Tibetan they know. They know what is dumpling and they most youngsters they come here and they...I don't have to advertise. (laugh). They did commercial. "Oh yeah Momo is very this and that."

AD: Ya that's awesome to hear. Umm.

L: And also I'm very lucky.

AD: Lucky? How are you so lucky?

L: Lucky because thing is that lucky. I'm...uhh... was looking for...I mean small restaurant and then there's one restaurant about to collapse and then I ask the owner to sell. He's asking $70, 000. And then there is another one. Glory of India. It was before "foreign's grid." And then they ask that Indian guy. He say $90, 000. I have no that much money. And then I took two months relax and I was like coming from library. I saw this one is on sale. And then I check inside. And then the owner of the lady. She sick. She's having arthritis. And this one guy...his name is...uhh...Lasale. He's alone and he's a little bit mad. "I have to work like animal and this and that." He's too tired and business is not that much good. He sells about 200 - 300 like that no? All looks very very dirty. And then I went one time, two time. And let. I'll bring you tea....

AD: Oh you were talking about umm how you stumbled upon this place when you were leaving the library.

We make hot sauce. Most of white people, they saying my hot sauce is one of the best hot sauce in Parkdale area. Ya when I heard like that, I feel very good...ya...I’m doing something...something nice.
— Loga

L: And then come back. And so, he's a little mad. And I say, LaSalle, how are you? Hey boss, how are you? And he keeps. We kept on talking for 15 minutes. and then he's too tired and then he's telling me a lot of problems. His wife, his kid and...and himself. And then we talked. 15-20 minutes. And then...(interruption, speaking Tibetan with his wife). And I said, "hey boss, you want to sell that?" "Ya, I thought of selling that."

L: And he said ya ok I'll sell it. He said, he spent 35 thousand. 35 thousand and then I said I cannot afford to. I came to Canada in 2012 and then I have nothing in my pocket. Whatever money all comes from welfare. "So...make a little discount." And he said "Tsk. Ya I can give you 25." He keeps on saying like that. And then I said, "Can you please give me some time?" and I give him 500. 500 deposit. And then I went to uhh I mean say to my friend. Some lend me...$2000. Some $5000. Some $3000. And then I went to the welfare. Before I talk to them, I thought of "I'm not...I mean good in education but can work very hard. And then I'm little very good at connection. Connecting people. And my wife...she's good in cooking. Not only...I'm not talking about other food. Only good at cooking...making dumpling. And we can make rice and that, no? And the taste will be Tibetan taste? So many Tibetans will come. And then I'm not sure about the white and black. Most of Tibetan, they prefer...I mean very simple. Very simple food. And then one item. I show you and you want to I mean make a good dumpling. I said, "It's ok. Ya?" And she said...she said...I mean I told them about financial. And she says "Any chance of helping some financial from government." They said, "No! Before, it used to be...uhh...I mean lots of supporting and now everything. Ya when people borrow it, they never give it back... to the government." And then I said...I said..."I'll try my best. Try to lend some money from a friend." And then they said they need written papers. For example, "Loga. My name is Loga and I'm lending...lending...Mr. Loga X $5000." And signature and telephone number, piece of paper. And then I collect all this and they...they...my friend lend me. Lend me about $25000. I got $25000 like that no? And then I start with $25000. $25000 and first and last month included in that. And then I use all it. Store very, very dirty. Very, very old. Old fridge. Ohh. Very dirty. Very old. And slowly...slowly I change fridge. Slowly I change stove. Now I have a new...one year...uhh...six months. And then I bought these ones. Chairs. Tables.

AD: Looks very nice.

L: Ya ya. Slowly...it's coming back.

AD: So let me ask you, what is your favorite part about this job? Like owning a restaurant here. Like what is your favorite part?

L: Umm...

AD: Like the part you like the most? You wake up and you think "I love this job. I am going to come into work because this makes me happy."

L: Oh ya. Uhh...when there is little rush. Otherwise, it's very boring. Ya ya. Morning. I have to wake up. 10 o'clock and I stay up till 11 o'clock. When there is little rush and my friends come. And then that time is only very good. I'm all...my hand is no good. I can't cook. My wife is cooking. And I have to be here at counter. All the time. When people come, then it's...I don't know how to say.

And most of my friend, they keep on saying “Come to Canada. Canada is the best. You won’t find like Canada. You won’t face any problem.” Food. And peoples, Black, white, green, yellow. All stay in one place. In India, you’ll find...Indian...in one restaurant...they make one group...and Tibetan they make one group. In India there is so many...I mean so many different types of Punjabi. They have...turban. They live and eat in one group. And here, you won’t find like that. All I see. Tim Horton. Just go to Tim Horton. You find black, white, green, yellow. All a mix.
— Loga

AD: Do you mean you like it when people come?

L: Ya ya.

AD: Do you happen to have any stories of people who come over and over again or favorite customers?

L: Ya ya. So many.

AD: Any interesting stories? Liek what do they say about your food?

L: They are always saying very good about my food. Sometimes I feel very doubtful. Are they exaggerating or are they telling the truth? When...my family gathers in India, we make beef. And at that time, food in India, you won't get abundance. Not a lot of facility. And then meat...some time...you won't get beef. I live in special...I mean Northern part of India, where most of the Hindus live. Hindus worship beef. And there you won't get beef. And goat...very thin. You won't find good meat there. And then...trash...sometime they put trash liver...not liver...intestine and mix with meat. From that...we make...and we feel...ohh only good taste with hot sauce. We make hot sauce. Most of white people, they saying my hot sauce is one of the best hot sauce in Parkdale area. Ya when I heard like that, I feel very good...ya..I'm doing something...something nice. Ya...I'm trying my best to do..what you call it...add more flavour...and when making dumpling, I make very hard word to mix good water. Juice won't come by itself. You have to do a lot of hard work. You put water and mix. Beef...meat...is the one that absorb...one and put it like that and then maybe mixing five or six time. And then when it cook in stove and you find it juicy inside. Sometime, so many people...I used to tell them "Be careful. So many juices."

AD: Ya they are very juicy.

L: Very juicy ya. And that kind of juice, you won't find in other Tibetan restaurants. So many people are saying like "Not meat." And then there is something special. I mean feeling when someone "Your momo is the best and your hot sauce is best."

AD: We want to interview people who came to this country and sometimes their English is not the best. They started something and we hear the story. They had trouble finding work and so they start a restaurant so thank you for telling us all this so far. I wanted to go back, so before you said you came here in 2012. Why did you come to Toronto?

L: To make some living. Toronto...Canada is the best place. I heard from India. We thought of...before I thought of going to America. And then in America, they slow. I mean so many...Health. If you get sick, you face so many problems. And most of my friend, they keep on saying "Come to Canada. Canada is the best. You won't find like Canada. You won't face any problem. Food. And peoples, Black, white, green, yellow. All stay in one place. In India, you'll find...Indian...in one restaurant...they make one group...and Tibetan they make one group. In India there is so many...I mean so many different types of Punjabi. They have...turban. They live and eat in one group. And here, you won't find like that. All I see. Tim Horton. Just go to Tim Horton. You find black, white, green, yellow. All a mix. That means everybody you know "You respect me, I respect you." Canada is the one that makes...that makes this kind of feeling. In India, you won't find like that no?

AD: so is that your favorite part about Canada and Toronto?

L: Oh. This is favorite. There are so many favorites. So many favorites.

AD: What are other things you like about Toronto or Canada. Or even Parkdale. I see that you have a sticker here that says you are proud to be part of Parkdale.

“Necessity is the mother creator of something.” If you work hard, you’ll create something. If you stay like that, no? Then you will get Dunlop disease.
— Loga (on giving advice)

L: Kids here. They have free education. You won't find that in India. And Library. Just in small case. So many books. So many...cities....you don't have to pay anything. Books. So many expensive books. You don't have to pay anything. You sure can't. Ohh so many good, good things. In India, it's very tough life no? We live in age of survival. Whatever you make today, you have to spend tomorrow. You have to safe a little for the day after tomorrow. Oh I don't know. And then people. For example, I have one friend. She's she came...maybe last year. She's suffering from cancer, and she did lot of operation. Free operation. If you are in...if she's in India...she's dead already. Ya...two months. Maybe one month or two month. She had to go to chemotherapy. Chemotherapy in India, you can't afford to. And the doctor will say. "Huh. now you having cancer and whatever, whatever days you live, you just spend that. Spend it...the days with your family." That means, they won't go after medication. Go and you have to die...and look at people...they don't let people to die. I have so many friends. They keep on drinking, keep on drinking. Goes like a hobo. And then when they fall down and police come, and then pick him up to go to the hospital. All medication in free. In India, "motherfucker." They'll say like that. "Let him die on the street." (Really?) Ya. This is world. Beggars. Why do beggars become beggars? Because lazy. They don't do work. In India, beggar. They afraid of people. Here beggars. "Hey motherfucker! Fuck you!" They keep on. I found this part very strange.

AD: That's really interesting to hear. Wow. I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying Toronto and Canada. So last two questions, because I know we had a very long conversation but why don't we start with this? So when you started to open this restaurant, you probably got a lot of advice from you friends, your family and what not. What was the most important piece of advice that you heard, the thing that you rememebr, piece of wisdom or advice?

L: Uhh...piece of wisdom?

AD: Yes. The most important thing that you heard when you started your restaurant. Like...did anyone tell you any tips?

L: Ya!

AD: Do you mind sharing what those tips or pieces of advice were? What was it that people said that you needed to do?

L: uhh. My friend. They are saying, most people are saying. Should be honest, and respectful. And then, whenever people comes, never tell lies. And then business will automatically come. This is one.

AD: So be honest with people.

L: Ya. And work hard.

AD: And if someone were to start a restaurant today, let's say me. What would you tell them?

L: Ya I'll tell them that everything is possible if you work hard. Ya. Everything is possible. Whatever dreams in your mind and heart. You have to go forward. And then things that...(laughter).

AD: So just work hard?

L: Ya work hard. That's all. Everything is ok. Uhh there is one quotation "Necessity is the mother creator of something." If you work hard, you'll create something. If you stay like that, no? Then you will get Dunlop disease.

AD: I am not familiar with that.

L: It means you stay in couch. Dunlop is soft ya. You stay in the couch lying and this hand and one hand here, one hand here, one leg here. And slowly you become very big. And you'll become. And this one will become like that. And this one is called Dunlop disease. And then you walk like this. (limps around). If you work hard, then you'll create something. Otehrwise, you keep on depending on welfare. That's not good no. This is someone's blood and sweat. right? (Yes) For example, if you can't help this community. Don't harm. That's all. So many people are there and selfish. "Argh! Late." Sometime. So many people, they do like that no? "Why TTC is late 5 minute?" 5 minutes. What do you want to do with 5 minutes? Even my friends, I told them "Come on, Don't do like that no." In India, you have to sometime wait 3 hour, 4 hours like that. Ya. And then he said, "I have work." And then if you have work, then you have to set you time. You are already late. Right? You are already late. And how things will move, you have to come maybe 5 to 10 minute earlier. All setting. You have to set. And blaming TTC. That's not good, no? In here...every 10 minute...you'll have TTC. Every 15 minute...you'll have something. Something is there. In India, you have to wait maybe 2 hours. 3 hours like that. Sometime. I mean bus is all full. They won't stop you. You'll have to do like that. Wait for another bus.

AD: Well that's all the questions I have. So thank you very very much for that interview. It's...I learned a lot. And for the record, I think you speak English quite well.

L: My English. Sometimes it comes very good. In India, in Tibetan school, I did up to matriculation 10 class. And that school me, not English medium. Tibetan medium. And also one of the best thing here. If you want to do something, someone is always behind you to push. You won't find that in India. You won't find that over the world. Only you will find in Canada.

AD: So a community of people believing in you.

L: Ya ya. Beliving in you. You have to believe yourself and stand up and do something.

AD: That was fantastic.

L: And people like you. Come on. You have to also work. You feel like sleeping in. Sunday, you feel like sleeping. Little bit late. But you come early. And then people like you come here to spend time with me to inspire me.

AD: Ya well I appreciate it. You are very welcome.

L: And most time, I was a little bit busy and then I have to say like that. Sometime people want to help you and you are not ready. These things happen. If you want to do something, so many people, they want to help you. They will ignite you. And especially in Canada, somebody work hard...everyone says "Oh he's a good man. He works hard." In India, jealousy tendencies are there. "Oh that motherfucker is making a lot of money. Oh hey, nice TV. She's not doing anything." Ya. All the time is like that. Not moving. If someone is moving, then "why is she moving so hard?" Ya, these kind of things you find in India. And here, they don't do like that. They say "Do something, I'll help you! I'll give you ideas. I'll give you tips."

AD: That's great to hear. I didn't even know about that.

L: Never heard. Even my relatives, even though they are rich, they won't show you tips. "You have to do this and that." They won't say it. This is one of the best things I found in Canada.

AD: So that people are willing to give you a hand.

L: Hand. Embrace. Give idea.

AD: Well thank you for sharing all of that.

L: Ya.


Loga's Corner
216 Close Ave.
(647) 761-0965