As soon as we arrive at Tula, which has been open for a few weeks on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, we are told something that will influence our entire experience in this little Mile End restaurant: “In general, Indian dishes are already vegan”, says restaurant owner Abhishek Arun, who also opened two restaurants in Toronto and dreamed of bringing the flavors of his culture to Montreal, a city he loves.
If there is no shortage of Indian restaurants in the metropolis, most include animal products in their recipes. But at Tula, we believe in authentic cuisine without having to consume ingredients of animal origin. In rare cases, substitutes for the main protein are used (such as butter chicken, for example, a real delight!), but most dishes are faithful to those the owner says he has eaten his entire life with her family.
In the large open-plan room of the Tula, typical Indian flavors are promised, “as they are served at home”. Prepare to be surprised by some menu offerings. Establishments like this that offer two meal salads are rare. You don’t necessarily associate an Indian-flavoured dinner with a huge colorful salad; however, the ones served here are in no way out of step with the rest of the menu.
The salads are prepared like at the owner’s grandmother’s, who has taken her recipes for more authenticity. One, with lentils, cabbage and carrots, and seasoned with a special “grandma’s” beet dressing, is not only beautiful to look at, but also delicious to taste. The other, a spinach salad with coconut, pineapple and mustard vinaigrette, is refreshing, perfect for balancing a curry or other heartier dishes.
By the way, the Sanskrit word “tula” means “balance” in English. It is around this idea that the menu is detailed. No recipe feels heavy and the restaurant tries to keep its meals light, but without compromise. As is often the case when tasting Indian dishes, everything is in the sauces. At Tula, they are delicious every time, whether you try butter chicken, jackfruit biryani or tofu tikka masala. All of these meals cost no more than $18.
The space is welcoming. You can even sit in a more “typical” corner, adjacent to the main dining room, where you enjoy your dishes on cushions, logs serving as tables. Tula offers to organize private parties and will offer yoga classes on its premises. Yes, the restaurant has the potential to become a beloved neighborhood gathering spot.