A “loomi” is the Oman word for a sun-dried lime: a Middle Eastern spice that is used as a souring agent. It is quite small — about the size of a key lime with black, pebbly skin — yet looming and distinct in flavor without being overbearing. While originating from Oman, loomi limes are used throughout the Middle East. You will find some loomi limes providing bright but subdued acidity in Persian stews and soups, a rounded sweetness to many Iraqi meat stuffings and a voluptous funk to many Arabic fish dishes.
While Loomi Cafe may not always use its eponymous spice within its rotating menu, the flavors often present in the food are as playful as a loomi lime — titillating spices play behind a foreground of (usually citric) acidity.
Loomi Cafe is situated in a small diner-like space across from Monahan’s Fish Market inside the Kerrytown Market & Shops. Long time residents of the neighborhood may recall that Loomi Cafe now stands in the space formerly occupied by Kosmo’s Bop Shop, which has since moved to a new location next to Fleetwood Diner. Unlike its predecessor, Loomi Cafe defies an ethnographic label on the theme of food that might be served; A Peruvian pork or a Hyderabadi chicken dish presented one day may very well be replaced by a Nashville hot cauliflower dish a few days later.
You’ll find comfort and perhaps a sense of relief when you learn that all of these entrees have something in common: Every entree is always served with your choice of fresh in-house pita bread, roasted (well, griddled) potatoes or white rice. Each choice of starch has its own unique, tantalizing voice. The pita bread sings in its toasty, sweet and near charred aroma, amidst its chewy texture backing track. The potatoes shatter with their glass-like crust yielding into wet but fluffy interiors. The rice is a most agreeable “fluffy bunny” companion to Loomi’s entrees — you lean toward the rice on the days you crave a subdued, yet fuller meal (probably on a rainy or snowy day).
If you find the generous portion sizes of Loomi’s entrees challenging, and perhaps would only like to consume a small amount of food, consider Loomi’s pupusas: a griddled, puck-like Salvadorean snack made out of ground corn oozing with delicious fillings. An analogue of the Korean bindaetteok, it resembles an amalgamation of a tortilla and a Hot Pocket. The pupusas at Loomi’s provide a satisfying toasted crisp exterior that explodes with the hot, often fatty, juices hiding within. While the pork and cheese pupusa served last year contained juicy chunks of pork with intermittent salty globs of cheese, the current chicken and beans pupusa served recently shows a more delicate, fluffier interior. A good pupusa is always handmade to order; the pat-pat-pat of the cook preparing your pupusa comforts you as you settle in at the counter, salivating in anticipation.
After multiple visits, you find clarity in the theme and vision among Loomi’s food. Each starch option (whether pita, potato, rice or masa) is like an Avenger: It possesses its own delicious superpowers and characteristics uniquely catered to different palates. Loomi Cafe, therefore, is the Avenger’s Tower: all forms of starches assemble at the counter to save your day.
Loomi Cafe is located at 407 N 5th Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.