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Dec 14, 2006 02:26 AM

Halal 786 Restaurant

In a not altogether altruistic fashion, I'd like to share with the folks of Hog Town that a superb Montreal Pakistani restaurant has opened up a location right here in Toronto (1330 Gerrard East).

I was an habitué of the Montreal location, and after having visited the new Gerrard location, I can assure you that it is every bit as delicious (the Montreal chef is here training the Toronto staff).

Of particular note are their Sarsoon ka saag, biryani and Lahori charga.

Do check them out. You won't be disappointed. (And I will be indebted to you for helping them to remain open.)

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  1. I've been wondering about this place since I live around the corner. Premises were previously occupied by another Pakistani place that NEVER had anybody in it, and got a few lashings on this board from those adventurous enough to go. So I do hope we have a great new addition to the strip.
    What, in your opinion, makes this place stand out from the other Pakistani places nearby?

    1. This is the NW corner of Highfield and Gerrard, BTW.

      1. Do you know if they do a weekend breakfast, and if so what time they open? Wondering if they do halwa-puri etc like some other Pakistani places in the city for breakfast. Or if sarson ka saag is accompanied by the traditional makki ki roti, made from chickpea flour, the quintessential Punjabi winter dish.

        Btw, I walked into the previous place, called 'Tribals' or some such name and claimed to offer Frontier cuisine, nothing of the kind, a very average menu in what was trying to be upmarket and just succeeded in being pretentious. After your post, have high hopes for 786.

        1. I'm not familiar with Pakistani cuisine, can you tell me the difference to Indian? I'm sure there are similarities, but what would I order?

          1. Difference is not so much of country as of region (since India and Pakistan are both Indian sub-continent as is Bangladesh - links with Sri Lankan cuisines and South India). Most of the humbler (and better) Pakistani restos serve Punjabi Muslim cuisine such as haleem (meat/cracked what stew), nihari (beef stew), along with dishes such as karahi gosht, tandoori chicken that are staples of restuarant food all over South Asia. This comes under the ambit of a broad range of North Indian food as oppposed to the South Indian places such as Udipi Palace that serve a very different kind of regional resto cooking, largely vegetarian, and with different spicing and ingredients (largely rice and lentil based) from the North Indian ones. But not correct to say all South Indians are veg, it is just that there are fewer egs of the non-veg South Indian regional places here, except for Maroli (Kerala), and Anjappar (Chettinad) - also the Sri Lankan places in Scarborough where u get both the veg and non-veg S Indian-type dishes. The vast variety of regional Indian/Pakistani cuisines like NW Frontier, Sindhi, Gujarati, Bengali etc one seldom get outside of homes except for specific locations.
            On Gerrard, quite a few of the Indian/Pakistani places have links to Lahore or Delhi which were two central urban/food cultures, quite closely related. Surati Sweets is run by Gujaratis and has a few snacks from that region as well as the more common pan-S Asian ones like burfis. In Scarborough, as I said, you can sample good Sri Lankan too in Hopper Hut and a a no of small joints. In Brampton, lots of Punjabi Hndus and Sikhs offer their own takes on sweet and savoury dishes - that is another variant on the Punjabi regional cuisine. I am not taking here about the bulk of the downtown Indian restos which are the standard resto cuisine you will find all over the world, a kind of homogenized 'Indian food scene.

            After my trip to 786, I'll post about the menu and what to order, but I'm sure from the first post, you can't really go wrong with a good place. Sometimes restos are a little unsure if non-S Asian customers will like haleem, or paya (trotter broth) etc but if you are an adventurous foodie, just insist. Ask for plain yoghurt on the side or sweet lassi if you need to cut the spice. Often the people there love takking about their own food if they see you are really interested, but they wont really knw much about it from the intellectual angle, so be warned. And North Indians/Pakistanis know nothing of South Indian and the same the other way around, often etc etc so not a good idea to ask Udupi about 786 and the reverse.
            There is a wonderful new Pakistani place called Mr Chillies that has just opened on Lawrence, I'll post about it soon - the onwer is very articulate and ethusiastic, and has a couple of dishes no one else makes, including one called khageena.

            2 Replies
            1. re: js288uk

              Thanks for a very enlightening post, js288uk. Please keep us informed after your visit to 786.

              1. re: Yongeman

                Sadly, we could not have breakfast or brunch there as they were closed when we dropped by today Sat around 11 am. Will try for dinner another day. The blurbs on the door seem to promise Lahori specialities of meat and fish, and also Peshawari kababs, which I have never had.