One of the hardest parts about living away from home is making your own food. Time after time, no matter how hard you try to master your family recipes, it often feels like something’s missing. And no, don’t worry, I’m not going to say “love”.
Mohamud and Shemina “Sam” Thobani, the husband and wife duo behind Taro (formerly House of Games) have been cooking with passion since 2002. Almost 12 years ago when the student centre first opened, McMaster’s local bubble tea and curry hotspot opened its doors to the student community. And it’s the passion that they cook with that has kept them running strong for over a decade.
Up until the current school year, their student centre location in B118 was known as House of Games. Recently, along with a new renovation, the restaurant has been re-named as Taro.
“Games is no longer our primary concept, we re-branded ourselves to focus on bubble tea, halal and vegetarian foods,” says Sam.
“We chose Taro because it’s the number one selling bubble tea flavour across the world,” she adds.
In addition to offering the widely popular Taro flavour, the store continues to sell over 40 different bubble tea flavours that can be mixed and matched with tapioca or jelly. The restaurant is also well known for their flavourful and cost-efficient curries. With halal, vegetarian and vegan options, there’s a curry and tea for all tastes.
“It’s the first place I tried a bubble tea. I tried the crab apple – I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners, it’s very sweet – but all of their smoothies are great,” explains first year student and new Taro fan Daven Bigelow.
Working as chefs since 1988- previously in other Hamilton and Toronto establishments- managing their own restaurant has truly been an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
“The fact that I have a passion for cooking, and everyone comes back for more, it’s very rewarding. It’s my dream come true,” Sam explains.
And their passion for cooking is not just evident through their flavours and amazing meals, but also through the kindness and respect they treat customers with.
“We’re run through the MSU, so everything we do is about the students,” Sam says as she steps from behind the counter to assist a customer in choosing the best sauce accompaniment for their butter chicken.
Taro brings forth a warm and homey environment that many on-campus eateries lack. Their meals and drinks are reminiscent of home-cooked meals, and the effort they put into each of their dishes adds a unique and complete flavour. A passion for cooking may be their secret ingredient, but it’s the compassion they show for all of Mac’s students that keeps people coming back and wanting more.