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Tabla vs. Amaya

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I was planning to go to Amaya in a couple of weeks for dinner, but after looking through the board, I now think that I should go to Tabla instead.

For those of you who have been to both, which is better?

Thanks!

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  1. Not to confuse things too much, but I'd go with Jaipur Grille.
    http://www.jaipurgrille.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: Googs

      LOL.

      I haven't been to Amaya yet, but Tabla wasn't the be-all-end-all Indian I was expecting based on various raves on this board. For instance, the beef vindaloo was overpowered by one spice - clove, I believe. Peas with paneer were fresh with good texture but in a too-creamy sauce. However, their breads are to-die-for good. Instead of pappadum, they bring a comp basket of fresh, thin, flaky paratha. And the keema naan (stuffed with ground lamb) is terrific. Decent mango lassi, and terrific service (it's an upscale type of place).

      1. re: Food Tourist

        I don't know if "be all and end all" is a necessary criteria. By your own account, aside from the vindaloo, many of the dishes/items were "terrific", "to-die-for" and service was good. So I don't see a problem with praising it. It has good food for the value and is better than most Indian establishments I've been to in TO and the service is good.

    2. I went to Amaya once.
      I've been to Tabla around 10 times.

      1 Reply
      1. re: estufarian

        Tabla is a nicer room with more space, better service. Both have excellent food, though Amaya tends to be more fusion (duck, lamb shanks). If you fo to Tabla, definitely give the Indian wines a shot. Not world class, but very encouraging.

      2. if it's worth anything (which it probably isn't) james chatto didn't even mention tabla in his recent TO Life article on new indian (haute indian) in Toronto...but he raves about amaya. i think they're a bit different, and therefore both worth a try.

        3 Replies
        1. re: LemonLauren

          I have a slight insight on this 'anomaly'. The owners of Amaya have good 'contacts' with the Toronto press - doesn't guarantee a good review - but does help in getting a review.( I know several people in the food/beverage trade who are on the receiving end of publicity blurbs). I doubt whether Tabla has the same set of contacts. hence no reviews at all (whether it's good or bad).
          Note that both Amaya and Indus Junction received multiple reviews. What an amazing coincidence when Tabla receives zero!

          1. re: estufarian

            I haven't been to Amaya, however, I have read more varying reviews of it on here than of Tabla.

            1. re: estufarian

              Didn't one of the Amaya owners have something to do with Kamasutra on Bayview and Mantra on Elm. Never tried KS, but Mantra was some of the most inept "fusion" I've ever tried. One of the few times I've ever taken one bite and said no thanks. Ridiculously over-priced, too. It lasted about six months IIRC.

          2. Long time lurker, wanted to pipe in on this one.

            Given the positive reviews from the press (Amaya) and on the boards (Tabla), I was looking forward to both and gave them a try in December. In terms of food and service, Tabla would be my choice.

            The food at Amaya was decent but not worth the hype. As for Tabla, I LOVED the eggplant bharta..smokey and creamy, simply AMAZING. Excellent breads. Agree with Food Tourist about the Vindaloo. I would definitely return to Tabla.

            1. After reading all the glowing reviews on CH about Tabla, SO and I finally tried it last night. We weren't disappointed.

              The room is nice - upscale, warm decor and lots of space between the tables (facilitating private conversation). Service was almost impeccable, my only complaint being that we never got the water we ordered. However, this was not a big deal and (happily drinking our Kingfisher) we didn't really miss it, and never reminded them about it.

              The food, overall, was fantastic. Gluttons that we are, we ordered enough for close to four people, so we have loads of leftovers in our fridge - mmm... Our only complaint was the blackened calamari, which bordered on inedible. It was spongy and lacking in flavour; however, the sauce that accompanied it was flavourful. It was supposed to be served on a bed of mango/organic greens salad, but there were few greens and no mango that I could detect, other than a couple of dollops of what seemed to be a mango-based sauce. We also ordered the Chef's Platter (an appetizer platter for two). Our favourite item on it was the veggie pakoras; they were hot, tasty and not too greasy. The brie pakoras were also quite good, despite being very unorthodox.

              We ordered three mains. My favourite was the Eggplant Bhartha, which had a glorious, smoky flavour. However, a close second was the Lamb Jhalfrezi -- the lamb was really tender and the sauce had a wonderful, complex flavour. We also ordered the Chicken Vindaloo, which was also very tasty, but my least favourite main. This is probably a product of it being slightly too hot for my taste (I enjoy hot, but not super-hot). I fully realize that Vindaloo is meant to be hot, and I suspected in advance that it might not be entirely to my liking, but I thought I'd order it anyway as it's gotten great praise from other CHers. My only other complaint about the Vindaloo is that (at least IMHO) it was a bit too heavy on the sauce/light on the meat.

              The naan was lovely - very light and flaky - though I found the roasted garlic flavour on the garlic naan to be a bit too pronounced (SO disagreed). The gulab jamun was a bit on the mushy side (I prefer it to be a bit firm/crispy on the outside), but was nonetheless quite tasty.

              Overall, we were most impressed with Tabla and will definitely be back. We've been to Amaya as well (only once, and quite a while ago) and would opt for Tabla over it. On a final note, I should comment that we didn't find Tabla to be as expensive as some would suggest.

              3 Replies
              1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                Very glad to see that Tabla is still very good. I went quite a few times last year and every experience was memorable. Even the friends that I took there loved everything.

                I haven't been to Amaya yet, and i don't trust the chummy chatto reviews, I'd rather find out for myself.

                1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                  I should have mentioned the calamari, in my earlier review.
                  It was bad...no other way of putting it.
                  Rubber comes to mind.
                  Hope they will read these reviews and either remove it, or get a new recipe, and possibly "plumper" squid.
                  This place has become a favourite go to, with Vegetarian guests.

                  1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                    I usually do the Chicken Jhalfrezi and the Lamb Vindaloo - I think the sauces work better that way around. The stronger flavour of the lamb balances with the Vindaloo.
                    Haven't had the Bhartha - I'm not a great eggplant fan - but your review highlights (for me) that the sauces here are distinctly different from each other, which is why I place Tabla ahead of most other Indian places (who seem to use a more generic sauce base). And I know I had a good fish dish - but it wasn't the calamari. I recall a coconut milk base but my mind has blanked out.
                    [EDIT] Of course as soon as I posted I recalled the fish dish - it was Xacutti.

                  2. Went to Tabla last night for the first time. I had fairly high expectations based on the opinions on here. I was happy, but I'd say it fell slightly below my expectations.

                    We arrived on time and were seated promptly. It then took 10+ mins for anyone to come to our table, and only after I gave our waiter a glance. He took our order quickly, mumbled and took off very quickly. (The place was busy, but far from full).

                    First our drinks came. My first complaint is that a "wine bar" should use proper glasses for wine. We were served white wine in a massive red wine glass. Seemed like they used the same huge glass for no matter what you order. (I'm no expert on this - am I wrong here?)

                    The food came out promptly. We had a chef's platter as an appetizer. Everything was excellent. Well balanced, good flavour, the right amount of spice. Then we were brought the mains, which were veg biriyani, chicken jhafrezi, channa masala and a plain naan. All was good. I'd never had a jhafrezi dish before, so was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a gravy type curry, but I guess that's what it is. I found the chicken to be a bit tough, overcooked. It was also a bit too sweet for me, but again perhaps that's just the way it is. Everything else was very good.

                    Including drinks, we paid $75 total (tax & tip included). Service was prompt, but far from friendly. The place was very nice, great atmosphere. Food was excellent and presentation was very nice. The reason I say it was slightly below my expectations is because when I compare it to others, such as The Host and Bombay Bhel, I can't say that the food was materially better. The service was a bit of a downer. Overall, I'm happy I tried it. But I think I'll stick with Bombay Bhel, as it's closer and more convenient.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: SMOG

                      Jhalfrezi means "hot fry" - and it's meant to be dry though not overcooked or sweet.

                    2. Went to Amaya recently and was very disappointed. We had the chef's so-called tasting menu, which comprised 2 appetisers, 3-4 mains, and a dessert. Everything was too rich and buttery, nothing stood out. I've been to Vij's in Vancouver (a couple of years ago) and can attest that Amaya is no Vij's.

                      Vij's is a truly new and creative take on Indian cuisine. Amaya is an upscale, overpriced, and too rich makeover on standard Indian restaurant fare. Save your money (and cholesterol count) and go to a decent "regular" Indian resto.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Todmorden

                        Vij's recipes, as printed in the Globe & Mail, all call for salt well in excess of a tablespoon. Even breaking them down into individual portions the salt seems incredibly high.

                        How did you find the food as prepared by the man himself?

                        1. re: Googs

                          I've eaten at Vij's several times and have cooked many recipes out of the cookbook, and haven't had any problems with the saltiness of any of the dishes. If anything, Vij's food comes off as much lighter and "brighter" in flavour than most Indian food we get here in Toronto. I think the big difference is the emphasis on using whole roasted and freshly ground spices, whenever possible making other building block elements yourself as opposed to buying them from the store (e.g., ghee, paneer, etc.) and using high quality ingredients (ideally, local and fresh produce and meats, even using non-traditional ones if fresh authentic ones aren't available). Relative to typical restaurant-made Indian cuisine in the GTA, I would also say there is much less dependence on butter to create richness in the dishes, and a much broader range of flavours.

                          If you can't make the trip to Vancouver ;-) , I highly recommend buying the cookbook and making a home-made meal from some of the recipes. Just make sure you stay faithful to the recommendations on sourcing and prepping your ingredients (it really does make a big difference) and you'll enjoy a better dinner at your house than anything you could get in a GTA Indian restaurant. The recipes may not always be purely authentic in their composition, but they're really delicious.

                          1. re: cybergod

                            "you'll enjoy a better dinner at your house than anything you could get in a GTA Indian restaurant."

                            Don't really agree with that! (and AmuseGirl is one of the more creative home cooks I've experienced). Mind you she doesn't have the time (or inclination) to cook the Vindaloo sauce for 2 days (as they do at Tabla).
                            We enjoyed Vij (in Vancouver) - but it's not Indian food - it's 'food cooked with Indian spices' . The same sort of thing that Xacutti was doing here (albeit Vij's version is more successful).
                            And who cares about salt anyway? Assuming one gives some credence to Darwin, we evolved from sea creatures - how likely is it that evolution would have favoured salt-intolerant branches? Especially if the food tastes "better" with salt.
                            Of course if it tastes too salty - I agree with any criticism - but that's another thread - I'll save it for the next praise of JKWB column.

                            1. re: cybergod

                              Maybe it's just me but I've been to Vij's a couple times over the last few years (when I've been in Vancouver) and it never really impressed me. I was quite disappointed too because of how great I'd heard the food was. Personally, I think there are quite a few decent Indian restaurants in Toronto (Tabla being one of them) though I'll agree that none are great. The Indian Rice Factory---it used to be great. Not so much now.

                            2. re: Googs

                              My family and I ate there a couple of years ago. Every dish was special. The food was not too salty. I take issue with the view that Vij's food is not really Indian. I'm not sure what people mean by that, since "real" Indian food is pretty much always the same stuff. Imagine saying "it's not real" about a creative approach to French, Italian, or Chinese food.

                              Mind you, my Montreal-born mother always used to say that Toronto bagels aren't real bagels...

                              1. re: Todmorden

                                Are 'lamb popsicles' real Indian food? They taste good - would be even better if the lamb was higher quality. They also serve them at Amaya - but what entitles them to the description of 'Indian Food'? Similarly the 'Naanini' at Tabla.
                                I also likened the food to that of Xacutti - which I still believe to be the closest in style - but nobody has rushed to their defence stating that they were "Indian".
                                I hesitate to use the word 'Fusion' as it's been overworked and not particularly descriptive. But so be it - it's 'fusion" . And you'll find hundreds of other uses of that word in connection with French (in particular) and Italian - less so with Chinese, but again, "Chinese" is a pretty useless word when it comes to food - there are so many separate cuisines there (EXACTLY as with India) that it just doesn't really define what's served. You never (OK rarely) hear people saying they're going out for 'European' food (as they do with Indian and Chinese) because it's just not helpful in describing the cuisine. Yet both India and China cover a larger area (and population) than Europe!
                                Just using Indian spices doesn't make me an Indian cook. Similarly using a flatbread covered with chicken, chili peppers, peanut butter and cilantro and calling it 'Thai Pizza' doesn't make it Thai or a Pizza, neither am I an Italian or Thai cook. But it still can taste great. Which of course is the ultimate test.
                                But if you enjoyed Vij (which you did) and travel ANYWHERE and ask for directions to the best "Indian" restaurant - what do you think your chances are of finding something similar?

                                1. re: Todmorden

                                  Vij and his wife Meeru openly acknowledge that many of the dishes served at the restaurant are not "authentic" in the sense of adhering to traditional recipes or ingredients lists. Their philosophy is to use traditional Indian spices and cooking techniques from across the sub-continent, but to source local and seasonal meats, seafood and produce, and to continue to experiment and evolve their cuisine.

                                  Just to clarify: when I made the comment about making a meal at home vs. eating out in Indian restaurants in T.O. I wasn't intending to pass any kind of judgement over the merits of authentic vs. fusion approaches, or to gloss over the considerable amount of work it takes to DYI ;-). Personal preferences obviously play a big part in what we all enjoy (and don't), and whether or not cooking for several hours to make dinner is something to look forward to (or avoid!).

                                  I suppose I could sum up my feelings on the subject as follows: it would be great to be able to find an Indian restaurant in Toronto that, regardless of whether they have a modern or traditional approach, takes as much time and care to source the quality of ingredients and prepare their dishes as Vij's does, as consistently as they do (which is not to say that I haven't had a few things at Vij's that haven't missed the mark for me either), and that showcases such a wide range of dishes and flavours. You'd think from eating at most Toronto Indian restaurants that Indian cuisine was made up of less than a couple dozen "mother" recipes, when in actual fact Indian food is so vast in its variety and range of flavours.

                                  1. re: cybergod

                                    I think we're both on the same page.
                                    Now, if only we had the 'great' Indian place we hope for in Toronto.
                                    Until then I'll still patronize Tabla - which is where this whole thread started.

                                    1. re: cybergod

                                      At the risk of taking this thread way off course, I would add that I would love to see a Toronto restaurant that entertains its waiting patrons the way Vij's does. Why worry about a "no reservations" policy when you can hang out in a cool, crowded bar area, sipping drinks and nibbling on complimentary hors d'oeuvres? It's a brilliant concept and I find it adds to the Vij's experience. I wish JKWB did this. And while I'm lamenting some of Vancouver's haves to Toronto's have-nots, let me once again state my desperate plea for the mini Guu empire (izakaya) to expand to Toronto - ah, but now I really digress...:)

                                      1. re: peppermint pate

                                        Totally forgot to mention that! It's one of the weirdest, coolest things about Vij's. I mean, where else but Vij's would one not only tolerate but actually enjoy the typical 1+ hour wait for a table after 6-6:30? There have been several times where just hanging out in the lounge or on the patio while waiting for a table that we've had a great time drinking wine by the glass, chatting with total strangers, while Vij runs around with platters of free snacky bits to keep everyone rolling.

                                        His nearly all-BC, all-the-time wine program is also great. I always get to try a glass or two of something local and interesting before we get seated, and then ask for the hard-to-find bottles of Blue Mountain sparkling wine (the rosé is fantastic) that they usually have off-list, but in the fridge...

                              2. Is there any relation between Tabla New York and the one here? I missed out in NY and was hoping to try a Naanini while I was there...

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: gsjameson

                                  No relation!
                                  By the way, last time I was at the Toronto Tabla, the Naanini wasn't on the menu. But just ask for it - they make them fresh.

                                  1. re: estufarian

                                    If you are talking about what I think you are, they are called Keema Naan.

                                    1. re: Apprentice

                                      That's why I missed them on the menu!
                                      I guess that sounds more 'Indian'!

                                      1. re: estufarian

                                        Estufarian / Apprentice - Thanks! I'll have to get some Keema Naan then..

                                        1. re: gsjameson

                                          I enjoy it and the mango sauce they serve it with is a different touch. IMO it's best enjoyed as an appetizer or on it's own as a snack or for breakfast. I don't find it complentary with curries.

                                2. Dined at Tabla over the weekend. Consistent with my previous experiences their mutter paneer is excellent. Tried all new dishes otherwise. Chicken Biriyani was passable, not the best I've eaten in the city, but warranting a second try. Their Channa Masala had a distict flavour that I couldn't place, almost artifical orange/citric-like, that did not complement the dish. I will not order that again. Finally I really enjoyed their Xacutti. It is a bit different than I'm used to; less spicy, but creamier and "heavier handed" with the cocunut (which is a good thing IMO). Naans were good. This restaurant is officially on my "Indian rotation", lol.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Apprentice

                                    Hi Apprentice,

                                    I would be interested in knowing what else is on your "indian rotation"?

                                    Thanks!

                                    1. re: csmk

                                      Sure.

                                      When I crave some "bang for buck" Indian I usually go to Bombay Bhel richmond hill (they seem the most consisent vs. the other ones across the city) and I particularly enjoy a couple of their vegetarian dishes - Vegetable Biriyani and "Chan" a.k.a. Channa Masala with an oily Bhatura - it is oily!! Make sure you get raita with the Biriyani. My SO loves their butter chicken, it's good enough for me but I'm not a "butter chicken guy".

                                      Anjappar Chettinad in Brampton makes a darn good crab curry.

                                      I haven't had a dosa in years, not exactly sure why, but when I did eat them often I would go to Madras Palace in Scarborough. CH's and friends confirm it's good.

                                      1. re: Apprentice

                                        Thanks..I'll be sure to give them a try!

                                        1. re: Apprentice

                                          I've been to Bombay Bhel in North York and it about the worst Indian food that I've had in Toronto. The place is basically the Indian version of Spring Roll.

                                    2. I've been to Amaya and Tabla several times each and I'd choose Amaya. Their service is a bit spotty, but their food is light years ahead of Tabla.

                                      Tabla is a standard curry house - a 10 sauces, 5 meats sort of menu but they do have a few interesting items - the Malabar Fish and Eggplant Bharta among the better. Brie Pakoras sound interesting but are hard and dry and the Naan is always greasy. Chai at $3 a cup is some hot water and a teabag. For some reason there's penne on the menu in the rice section. Mango Lhasis stain the tablecloth a weird fluorescent orange and taste artificial. Service is prompt and friendly without being overbearing.

                                      Amaya has a higher price tag and far more interesting food. Avoid the duck, though - it's a play on duck a l'orange that just doesn't work. The eggplant steak, tandoori tenderloin, paneer and chaat are excellent, as is the dessert sampler. Service is a combination of haughty wait staff and bumbling runners.

                                      Amaya's take-out, just down the road from the restaurant is a disappointment. It's expensive and unexceptional. I always go to Iqbal off Thornecliff for their excellent biryanis, butter chicken and kebabs.

                                      1. Never been to Tabla, but Amaya was underwhelming in the extreme. I'd never e ven consider going there again, even if their prices weren't so high.