“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, they start to shake.” It’s not like I started having convulsions when my tray of Sini-Monta ($8) arrived hot and steaming. However, it’s accurate to say that these tiny beef dumplings caused me to enter a fit of joy.
Grant Yegiazaryan, wife Evelina and son Sarkis (aka “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 Yegiazaryan 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 Yegiazaryan 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.