Huma (pronounced ooma) is the lovechild of Humberto Hernandez Cordova and Mariel Montero Sena. The Puebla, Mexico natives opened the doors to their restaurant two months ago after hosting pop-ups at the now closed Expressionz Cafe. Some may remember Mariel as a contender on Chopped Canada 2014. She made it through the first round with the judges caution ringing in her ears: unleash the big bold flavours of her culture and do not temper the foods for the Canadian palate. She vowed to ‘go for it’!
At Huma, you can find Mariel and a host of Mexican ladies whipping up enchiladas, sopas, tortas, ceviche and other Mexican dishes in the kitchen while Humberto stays out front taking orders and greeting people who obviously have been fans of the couples’ food for a long time.
The ambience here is different than the other three Latino contenders in town: El Cortez, Tres Carnales and Rostizado. Humo is down-home and family-friendly—as in you don’t have to worry about naked women dancing on whatever TV show is playing on the big-screen TV (ahem, El Cortez).
The decor is living room-meets-fiesta with brightly coloured walls, tin star lighting pendants, and a few Día de los Muertos knick knacks. On my two visits, I saw a couple of fellas that were quasi-hipster, and the music was so unaffecting, that I can’t even recall what it was. But, that’s okay; the food made up for it (for the most part).
On my first visit, I grabbed items for take-out.
These Molletes feature a grilled, marinated beef on a homemade open-faced bun spread with fried beans, topped with cheese and pico de gallo. It was unique enough to grab my attention and filling enough to justify the $14.00.
I do love a good enchilada. These, however, were lacking personality and needed a heaping helping of some tomatillo salsa (which was provided in a separate container). That feeble, shredded lettuce and radish mix makes an unfortunate appearance in many dishes.
The pulled pork was fantástico and the sandwich was bursting at the seams with a mound of savoury meat. I found out later that you do have an option to have either salad or soup and had I known about the soup, I would’ve had that instead of the lacklustre lettuce and radish salad.
The ceviche is bright and lively with lime, onion, cilantro and tomato and abundant with seafood. Freshly made tortilla chips are served on the side. This and a Mexican beer or margarita? Si, por favor!
Another unique dish is the molotes de pulpa, a deep-fried pocket of corn dough stuffed with tender octopus in a tomato sauce, and served with a drizzle of crema. Apparently this dish is only offered every now and then but it should definitely be a permanent item. This is one thing that would keep me coming back.
The shrimp in this sandwich are breaded in a pork rind coating, deep fried and nestled amongst fried beans, chipotle mayo, pickled onion salad and avocado. That dreaded salad makes another appearance here, although this time with red onions on top. The sandwich was great, made even better with a spoonful of jalapeño/onion/garlic salsa.
Under that mountain of SALAD are four basa tacos, but Mariel is selling her talents short here. Edmontonians have been baptized by the Taco Gods from Tres Carnales, whose success is largely due to their refusal to pander to the wimpy North American. Huma would do well to up the fish content, throw away that shredded lettuce, and add ingredients with big flavour.
I loved the genuineness of the people and the food, but I’d like to see (and taste) a bit more of the bam!
My CBC Edmonton AM web article and audio file of Huma can be found here.