Sarkes Yegiazaryan would like to make manta a household term. These meat-filled, open-style dumplings look like tiny boats. They are made with thin layers of dough that wrap around a small meatball at the center. He and his family prepare thousands a day out of their restaurant in Glendale, and they’ve made introducing manta to the public their life’s work.
“I want people to remember manta,” he said. “The name hasn’t stuck yet. My mission is to make it stick.”
On this episode of “The Bucket List: Dumplings,” we’re featuring manta from Sarkes, his mother, Evelina; sister Francine and father, Grant, the family behind the Monta Factory. The Yegiazaryans, who emigrated from western Armenia in the early ‘90s, specialize in one style of manti, a term that encompasses dumplings from all over the world.
Manti can be found throughout the Caucusus, Turkey, Turkey, other parts, as well as South and East Asian countries, such as Pakistan, Mongolia, and Turkey. Manti can be referred to in many different ways across the globe. And they can be any size, baked, steamed or boiled depending on where they’re from.
Evelina learned how to make manta from her father’s cousin, who would prepare the dumplings during the holidays when she came to live with the family for a few months in the winter. Sarkes stated that manta is a wintertime dish and was made with many hands.
“The house is warm and the manta goes in and it comes out of the hot oven with the hot tomato sauce and you sit there in the cold weather and enjoy it,” he said.
“It’s when families come together and there’s more hands to help with pinching the monta,” Francine added.
The Yegiazaryans begin their day at 5:30 a.m. They prepare the manta dough using a large mixer. The dough is then rolled into a thin paper-thin layer, and then it’s spread along the length of the table at the center of the kitchen. Sarkes makes the filling by adding a “secret spice blend” to the ground beef and mixes it by hand. The dough is then cut into small squares. Francine, Evelina and a small group of staff begin to fill and fold the dumplings.
“You would get together with the grandparents to make it … it adds more flavor to it,” he said. “The fact that it’s family, it’s not a big company making it, it’s not a machine, it’s my mom, myself, my sister and my dad. It’s keeping the tradition alive.”
The manta are baked in foil trays until the center is just cooked. These manta are often described as the best bits of both a meatball (or a potsticker) and baked together in a bite-sized dumpling.
The Monta Factory serves the dumplings with a ladle of hot tomato sauce and creamy yogurt garlic sauce. You can choose whether the tomato sauce is more traditional or not, depending on whom you ask. You can choose whatever you feel is best for you. Both ends up working for me.
You can now find variations of manti at more than a few restaurants around town, but that wasn’t the case when I first wrote aboutIn 2016, the Yegiazaryans, their manta and their family. In 2016, the Yegiazaryans and their manta.
“Many families knew about the manta, but they don’t have time to make it,” Evelina said. “So parents would come … mothers were coming and buying for their kids to give them. To fulfill the tradition.”
It began as a small wholesale company, but it evolved to ready-to serve. The family now has a larger location in Glendale with a bigger kitchen and outdoor seating.
“I would love to find a family as crazy as we are, who sit there all day and make manta all day long,” Sarkes said. “I definitely want this to be a household name.”
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This article includes restaurants
Monta Factory, 1208 W Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, (818) 396-4445, montafactory.com
Su-Beoreg and Monta Factory 1531 E Washington Blvd. Pasadena (626) 398-1525
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