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Babu Indian Take out - slow burn (+ photos)

Just got back from putting out a fire... in my mouth! Wow, talk about heat! I tried Babu after reading about it elsewhere on Chowhound today, and boy, were they right when they said that it was a bit spicy. I think I'm typically more accustomed to more tame Indian dishes, hence this was quite a shock to the taste buds. I'm sure it was quite authentic though - I went around 9PM and it was PACKED with clients. Unlike others' experiences, I had an easy time conversing with the staff and he was patient enough to explain the different types of curries to me (even when I asked him to repeat a couple of dishes because his voice was being lost over the drone of the crowd). I tried the curried crab (super spicy, but nice curry - not a fan of the crab so much though. The texture was a bit mushy.) and the mutton curry on biryani. Each came with about 2-3 veggie curries and a soup/salad/coleslaw. The soup and coleslaw were interesting, but I found the soup to be a bit too vinegar-y for my tastes. I was never a fan of coleslaw, so it was bound to disappoint anyway. The chick pea curry was my favourite as it was the tamest of the bunch in that the heat was bearable for me. I would definitely return to try this dish alongside another selection. The price cannot be beat - dinner for two (with leftovers for lunch for each of us) came out to $12. And that included the most expensive dish (crab) at $6.50 or so. There was so much food - but it could have been because the spice caused us to feel full a bit earlier than usual. I truthfully could not tell if it was actually a good curry because I could not taste anything beyond the heat - my body has not adapted to this spice level, just yet. Thoughts from others that have tried it would be appreciated?

Would I go again? Maybe - but I think it's a bit out of my comfort zone with respect to heat. Would I recommend it to others? If you can handle the burn, and the amazing price, I think you'll fare quite well.

Dinner for 2 (or 4?): http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
Curry Selections: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
Spiced Shrimp: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...

Cheers and Happy Eating!

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  1. Where is this place? Crab curry, even though you say the texture was iffy, included in $12 total is amazing.

    I had a most awful experience last night. Was working late, got a craving for indian and did the buffet at Skylark on Gerrard. Brutal.

    9 Replies
    1. re: grandgourmand

      BokChoi, I really enjoy all your photos. They’re great. Keep them coming!

      (Your reviews are good too!)

      1. re: magic

        Thanks so much, Magic! I'll definitely keep posting up my food finds.

        With respect to location, Babu is located in the back of a little strip mall in Scarborough, just east of McCowan (on Sheppard): 4800 Sheppard Ave E # 201 (about 3 minutes north of Scarborough Town Centre).

        I would not say that the food is great, but I Indian food is not one of my fortes when it comes to judging what is authentic or good. I would like to hear if someone else has tried it and their thoughts. I honestly though it was just too spicy for me to tell. But it appears someone sure likes it - if it finds itself packed to the rim at 9PM on a Tuesday... so I don't want to discount it completely.

        It's purely a take-out joint. It reminds me a bit of McD's - with the red and yellow colour-schemed outfits.

        Caveat Emptor - the only thing I can comment on is that the price is good and the value for what you get is great. All I can say is you get what you pay for. Please don't be upset if it's not on the same level as the more gourmet restos out there...

        Cheers and Happy Eating!

        1. re: BokChoi

          The ladle in the chana masala looks inedibly greasy to me. So I appreciate the pics too!

          1. re: pescatarian

            I find pics help too - you know what you like and what you're looking for. Glad they helped.

            1. re: BokChoi

              Thanks. Have you tried Tabla? It's a bit pricier than the buffet type places, but it's delicious, balanced flavours, not greasy.

              Also, in terms of buffets, Siddartha on Gerrard tends to be pretty fresh.

              I like spicy, but I had an off the charts spicy experience at Ali's Curry House on Queen East. We ordered the tandoori beef, which is supposed to be spicy, but it was so firey hot, we were both sweating and couldn't taste anything else - and I swear I can handle heat. That kind of heat takes away from the experience anyways, because you don't get any other flavour experience.

              1. re: pescatarian

                No I have not tried them. I will definitely try to make my way over - I tend to avoid buffets though because I find the quality to be not as good as a la carte (plus the temperature is always a bit off). Would you say this is not the case with the places you recommended? Tabla sounds promising...

                1. re: BokChoi

                  Tabla is not a buffet. It's the best I've had in Toronto (well besides the homemade stuff that one of my Indian friends makes).

                  1. re: pescatarian

                    Great, sounds like it fits the bill. Thanks for the rec.

            2. re: pescatarian

              pescatarian, all I see is a ladle that should be replaced with a clean one. And this happens all the time on steam tables.

      2. I've just discovered Indian food (believe it or not). Don't know why I waited this long to try it? Now, I can't get enough of it!! The best so far, was Litttle India where we had a lunch buffet on Civic Monday (I posted a review on the forums).

        Last night, there was not time to go out, so I made Chicken Korma at home and bought some vegetable samosas from a nearby store! Hitting the scales has not been amusing lately, so I think I'd better cut down on the curries and naan.

        I don't think I could take the spiciness of the dishes you mentioned, but they sure sound good. Is this place a buffet or did you get take-out? I looked at the pictures and saw take-out containers, so I'm not sure. I didn't like the coleslaw at Little India, it was too sweet, but I don't mind the vinagrette type. The chickpea curry sounds very good!

        1. Who is this Babu you recommend...never heard of him...somewhere in the burbs?...Marimba!

          1. I thought it was Sri Lankan, as is was recommended to me by a Sri Lankan colleague. Does it sell hoppers?


            1. Chowhounds will br reading this and us Heathounds will I suspect be checking it out.I to suspect it is Sri Lankan, not Indian. The low prices are a bit of a hint, but the fact is Sri Lankan food does not look as good as Indian. I have seen a few Sri Lankan places in the Eglinton, Birchmount, Midland, Kennedy Rd. area and the food appears on the less attractive side.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jar

                Terribly sorry if I was incorrect. You both could be right. My apologies.

              2. I'm presuming from your previous posts, this is Babu in Scarboro you're discussing and not Babur on Queen West?

                1 Reply
                1. I've had some good lunches at Babu and some bad ones. I figure at that price and the fact that it is buffet style, you take the good with the bad. If you're in that area and want something more consistently good, spend the extra 3 bucks or so and have the non-veg thali at Tandoori Pearl (McCowan and Nugget in the strip mall) It's very good!!!

                  1. Hey...I'm glad people are finally trying Babu out as I've mentioned it in a few previous posts.

                    The times I've been there, I've found the service to be friendly and accomodating. For newbies feel free to ask them questions as they are patient and there are many different options available.

                    You can always add on veggie or meat curries in small containers to any combo for a small cost (like $0.75-$2.00) and there are plenty of NON-spicy curries available (just ask which ones).

                    Also be sure to order a square or round roti or some naan. They're actually pretty good.

                    When I last went I ordered a veggie biryani + butter chicken + muttar paneer (peas with cubed pressed cheese) + 2 or 3 other curries + a square roti it came to only $7. The servers often dont charge for extras.

                    Also BokChoi LOL - the 'coleslaw' you got was raita - it's a yogourt sauce to put on the rice - it cools down the spices.
                    The 'soup' is probably a curry sauce to put on the rice or eat with roti.

                    And even though the Pakistani restaurant - Silver Spoon - is right across from Babu, it's never busy at all. Babu is a Sri Lankan restaurant so there are Tamil specialties there as well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pakmode

                      LOL, thank you pakmode for clarifying that! Maybe the 'coleslaw' will be helpful for me next time. It was unlike any raita I'd ever had before - strange. This one had cabbage bits in it (and the bulk outweighed the liquid signficantly - it was solid chunks of cabbage. I think you can see it from the photos)... so that is why I thought it was coleslaw. The raita I normally have is just the yogurt. This one had more of a mayo flavour. The 'soup' was also unlike any curry I'd ever seen before - it was really watery. I'll try it with rice though next time. I should really get them to explain everything to me...great service. The one serving me was really helpful.

                      I think I'd go back - I just finished the $12 meal today for lunch and it was still really good. Now that I have amortized the cost to the # of meals I have eaten, it works out to about $1.75 per meal! It cannot be beat at that price. The leftovers taste great with the rice - which is nice and firm. Basmati rice has such great texture.

                      I also noticed Silver Spoon - felt bad for them. I take it they're not very good..?

                    2. Late to the party - tried Babu last week. Value for money, this place definitely hits it. $40 of food fed 2 people to bursting and left enough leftovers for the rest of the week. The following is a paste from my site. Unlike the OP, I found most of the dishes mild and even the spiciest to be comfortably spicy. Possibly that's the selection of dishes - I'm not a huge heat fan.

                      Chicken Tikka, breast meat looked dry and was. $1.50/piece
                      Mutton Masala curry was very tasty but a bit tough.. $3.95
                      Mutton rolls, deep fried wrapped rolls, similar to spring rolls, were interesting but I'd rather try other stuff next time. $1

                      Goat Masala curry had the same spiciness as the mutton, but added that yummy goat flavor. $3.95
                      Basmati rice was enough for 3 generous portions and just $2.45

                      OMG-will get every time:
                      Large tandoori chicken quarters were moister than I've had before (cooked in a clay oven, stripped of skin and slashed to let the seasonings penetrate, they're usually somewhat dry). @2.50/quarter
                      Veggie samosas had a non-traditional wrapper that I liked much better than spring roll wrappers that you sometimes find but not as much as traditional heavy pastry, but the stuffing was especially savory, even though quite mild. Super cheap at $1/3 pieces
                      Kadai Chicken curry was SUPER good, tender boneess chicken thighs in a rich mild sauce. $4.45

                      Babu Catering and Takeout
                      4800 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON , CA

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: randomthoughts

                        Our family tradition is never pass by the Bur Oak location without buying samosas. We eat them hot/warm in the car.
                        We find that $20 feeds 4. Lamprie (?) with butter chicken, briyiani (?), samosas, etc. Especially if we use the coupons that we get in the flyers. Then we have dinner for 4 with lunch for next day. The only thing is there is no seating so we usually have to wait til we get home and reheat. Bummer.

                        1. re: caitlink

                          I went prepared with styrofoam ice boxes in the car, so things were still hot when I got back. It's a good thing the samosas were also in the back, because none of them would've made it home otherwise.

                      2. I've seen Babu up on McCowan, north of 16th Avenue. I wondered if it was the same as the Scarborough location you mentioned, and indeed their website confirms this: http://babudelivery.ca/index.php

                        They say they serve Tamil Eelam food, thus it is different (and spicier) than the more common North Indian food. Prices do seem to be quite reasonable. Have not tried Tamil food before, but looks interesting.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: canmark

                          Hm, interesting, that's a bit closer to where I live... I'll have to try that location - thanks.