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Recommendations for Little India

Well, we've toured Little Portgual. And have asked fellow chowhounders for advice on Kensington Market. Next on my list is Little India.

I've already tried Indian and Pakistan mangoes this summer. What is good in Little India? Which foodie places (dining) or takeout places should I try? What grocery stores should we visit and what food items should I buy?

We are not big on supersweet desserts. Have always loved authentic butter chicken, curries, naan and samosas. Are there any special Indian ices, drinks or icecream? Don't care much for Indian / Chinese Hakka food such as Lin Garden.

We typically go to the Host, Bombay Bhel, Dhaba and Samosa King and shop at Bombay Bazaar on Kennedy in Markham. How do we (a Chinese family) get an authentic taste of Indian food without travelling to India?

Or are we better off sticking to Markham in general. Thanks, everyone.

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  1. I highly recommend a visit to Udipi palace. Its a vegetarian place that specializes in south indian cuisine, such as dosas, Uttapams etc. The joint is nice and clean, service friendly and the dishes are exceptionally good value.
    I have also heard the Moti Mahal is good too, but yet to have venture there.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Satish Patel

      I highly, highly recommend Moti Mahal. All the dishes have very distinct and different flavours, something that you may not get at one of the buffets, and the price is very reasonable. We usually get take-out from there, but there are some tables inside -- it's a little grungy, though, but if you don't mind that, it's serviceable. Also, Moti Mahal is very reasonably priced, compared to some of the other, less worthy, options.

      1. re: Full tummy

        Seconded in all aspects. Formica covered tables, polystyrene plates and plastic utensils, get-your-own-water, mall-like food and plate disposal. But the food itself is really quite good. There are pictures of the dishes on the wall while you wait to place your order. You will find that helpful if you are fairly new to this scene.
        The Lahore Tikka is an experience, especially al fresco dining on a nice day. Steer clear of the buffets. That's the Indian equivalent of a Chinese-Canadian restaurant.

        1. re: Paulustrious

          3rd Moti Mahal. Really like the food there.

          1. re: TOchowgal

            Except one time we ordered lamb on a skewer and they microwaved it right in front of us and mom found it really dry.

            1. re: Teep

              I have never eaten that particular dish, but you are right that they are not making their food à la minute. I think this is not practical with the curries they serve, at their price points, but a lamb skewer...

              So, avoid the lamb skewer, I guess...

              1. re: Full tummy

                I have always enjoyed their kebabs; goat, lamb and chicken. (IIRC)

                1. re: Paulustrious

                  Good to know. Were yours warmed up in the microwave too?

      2. re: Satish Patel

        I love Udupi!!!! It's vegetarian but it's great... yum.
        Also - very clean!!

      3. I will add a vote for Udupi Palace.

        1. For a different experience of India, try visiting the beautiful temple and museum at 427 and Finch, also visit the restaurant right outside and across the temple for delicious indian food, very unlike that served in the north indian restaurants.. Only thing being a temple, food is all vegetarian

          3 Replies
          1. re: chillihigh

            I was at the temple last summer but did not notice a restaurant. Is this new and could you tell us more?

            1. re: Zengarden

              hi there,
              the restaurant is outside the temple gates, across the road, a little bit ahead, it is called sayona, the food is prepared and served by the volunteers. Best samosas in toronto, and the food is gujarati style, from western India, which is where im from, so it hits the spot for me. There is a small area at the back of the restaurant where you can sit and eat

              1. re: chillihigh

                Thanks for letting me know. I think that it's a neat idea for temples to have food service. I plan to go to the Chinese temple in Mississauga which has a tea house on site. I'm Buddhist and haven't made it to this one yet and am intrigued, especially after reading about it in the Star. Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

          2. 786 for Pakistani. The whole fried fish, whole roasted chicken, the nihari special on Saturdays, all amazing.

            4 Replies
            1. re: childofthestorm

              is 786 in Little India? Can you tell me where it is located?

              My family and I have been going to Lahore Tikka House and love the food there but I am still looking to try authentic Pakistani biryani. I wouldn't know how it tastes like as I am not from Pakistan and have never been there but all my South Asian friends tell me that I have to try it if I ever get the chance.

              1. re: TOchowgal

                It's actually right across the street from Lahore Tikka.

                FYI my wife's family is South Asian (specifically North India and Pakistan) and they LOVE the place, every time anyone visits it's their first stop. But their have been reports that 786 "dumbs down" the spicing for non- South Asians so YMMV. I would ask them to make it all as they would eat it spice-wise.

                1. re: childofthestorm

                  Thanks childofthestorm.

                  I am South Asian. I definitely have to try this place and ask them to not dumb down the spice level ;)

                  What are some of your and your family's favourites there?

                  1. re: TOchowgal

                    They have a nihari special on Saturday so that is when we always go, it is so good. We also like the whole Lahori fried fish, the Lahori charga whole chicken, the boneless chicken tikka and seekh kebabs, the mutton korma...oh and we tried the butter chicken when my family was with us and it was very good and very different.

                    I love the place. Just don't expect any ambience whatsoever.

            2. My vote goes for Udipi Palace too. The restaurant atmosphere is basic, but service is quick and attentive. I liked their mango lassi and madras masala dosa. I also tried their stuffed potato uttapa which I didn't care for much.
              For Indian sweets, I liked Mahar. When I asked for a 'not too sweet' item they suggested I try something they had on their counter. I am not sure of the name, but it looks crumbly and is brownish in color. I also ordered some samosas, which were very tasty and fresh.

              1. I see there's already plenty of recommendation for restaurants so I'll try to put in a different spin. Personally, when I visit a neighbourhood, I like to do the grazing/snacking thing.

                Probably not the thing for summer. However, one thing I enjoy when visiting Little India is a hot cup of pink Kashmiri Chai (Liberty Paan Corner, 1430 Gerrard St. E., Toronto).

                Another fun snack is chaat in all shapes and forms. I love the contrast of flavour and texture in these street snacks (tanginess from different sauces, creamy yogurt, crunchiness from poori, and aloo and chickpeas too). You can usually buy them from the front counter of little stores.

                Someone in the thread mentioned a crumbly not-too-sweet mithai. It sounds like milk cake to me. I love the hint of caramelization in this sweet too.

                Since it's summer, if I go to Little India myself, I will keep my eyes open for places selling falooda and kulfi too.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ComeUndone

                  Faloodas are delicious! There are a couple of places there that sell them because I've gotten them there, but I can't give you names because I don't remember.

                  1. re: Pincus

                    I had to wikirate to discover what they. In the entry it says...

                    In Canada it is becoming increasingly popular due to the efforts of ROYAL PAAN which has branches in Mississauga, Toronto and Brampton.[3] The Canadian version, made out of soft ice cream, is extremely delicious[4]

                    One suspects this entry is not quite at arm's length.

                2. I live in the neighbourhhod and agree that thali and dosai are great at Udupi Palace. The atmosphere and tandoor-cooked dishes at Lahore Tikka House are lots of fun. The street food (including BBQ corn rubbed with hot spices) is messy but also good fun and definitely a wakeup for the tastebuds. I'm also a fan of Mahar and Moti Mahal. But leave room for kulfi - ice cream on a stick. Usually the paan houses (street snack spots) have the homemade kind that they have to unmold from a tin mold for you. Very yummy, as long as you're not allergic to nuts.

                  1. I recently ate at "The Famous Indian Cuisine" at 1437 Gerrard St W. The buffet is quite good, and is around $10.99 a person. It's worth a try if you want to eat in that area.