Twyla Campbell: Huma has 'genuine written all over it'
A new restaurant offering homemade, authentic Mexican food has opened on the corner of Argyll Road and 99th Street in south Edmonton.
Huma is owned by Humberto Hernandez and Mariel Montero Sena, a husband and wife team.
She does the cooking, he runs the front of the house.
Edmonton AM restaurant reviewer Twyla Campbell says Sena definitely has skills in the kitchen. She was a contestant on the cooking competition show Chopped Canada in 2014.
The couple came to Canada nine years ago. They worked in various places around town until landing at Expressionz Cafe where they started Mexican food pop-ups.
When Expressionz closed, Mariel and Humberto decided to open their own place.
The lunch menu features enchiladas, tortas, burrito, soups and chilaquiles, a dish which is a pile of chips topped with salsa, meat or fried eggs.
The dinner menu has these items and more. Wednesday is seafood night so there was ceviche, which is seafood marinated with citrus and seafood in pastry,
The salsas, sausage and sandwich buns are all made on-site.
On the table
Twyla said she went to Huma two days in a row, so she was able to try a wide variety of items.
- Tortas - Twyla tried two kinds of these sandwiches. One made with a generous amount of tender, pulled pork, the other with camarones, plump shrimp coated in pork rind batter. The dish is topped with pickled onion salad and avocado. You can choose from three different kinds of salsa: jalapeno garlic onion, tomatillo, and roasted tomato. The buns are very good and the tortas come with a basic iceberg and radish salad. While the tortas were fantastic, Twyla said the salad could use more "wow" factor. Maybe by adding some jicama, cilantro, or roasted corn, she suggested.
- Molletes - open face sandwich with marinated grilled meat, topped with cheese and pico de gallo. "It's this charred meat and melted cheese flavours with that fresh, bright acidity with the pico de gallo. Really different and I was really impressed with that."
- Molotes de pulpo - like a pizza pop made with corn dough and filled with tender braised octopus in tomato sauce. They are deep fried and topped with crema, Mexican sour cream. The item only appears occasionally on the supper menu. Twyla says that needs to change. "That dish was fantastic and they need to have that on the menu consistently."
- Ceviche - dish of basa fish, shrimp, and onion which is "cooked" in lime juice and served with homemade tortilla chips. "They do not skimp on the seafood," Twyla says. "Really fresh ingredients, bold flavour. I loved it"
- Fish tacos - they are made with deep-fried pieces of basa. The fish is nicely done, Twyla says, but she thinks the tacos have too much shredded lettuce and radish salad. "Instead, I would like to see that fish topped with a pico de gallo and maybe a small amount of shredded lettuce or cabbage," she said. "This chipotle mayo that they have in the restaurant would work well and would really make that taco stand out.
- Three-milk cake - a white cake made with regular milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk which "oozes with creaminess" and layered with peaches. "It's really rich, you might want to share it, but it was also refreshing at the same time," Twyla says.
From the bar
Huma is licensed. They have cocktails, wine and a great selection of Mexican beer. Twyla tried a full bodied ale called Red Pig. Huma also serves sangria and she saw some "wicked" margaritas being made.
The setting is very welcoming and feels like you're at someone's home. The walls are brightly coloured with Mexican art, luchador masks and tin star lights. There is even an upright piano that some customers have played.
The servers all speak Spanish.
"They're very friendly, very humble. It's like they just don't know how incredible they are," Twyla said. "I think Huma is going to be very busy.
"It's wonderful food, unpretentious setting. Genuine written all over it. This is really good for Edmonton."