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Aug 30, 2009 11:37 AM

Chef of India - Review... in a word, OUTSTANDING!!

I have eaten my share of meals out and my share of Indian meals out. This past Friday, husband and I went to Chef of India on E. side of Yonge St., just S. of St. Clair. This is the best Indian meal we have ever had.

A complimentary basket of pappadums and what husband defined as Indian bruschetta dip, was an unexpected and tasty tantallizers. These were sans cumin seed and though I prefer with, they were crispy and yummy.

We started off with the onion Bhajia which were remarkable. Gorgeous chunks of onion barely held together by the crispy batter, only as a courtesy. This was served with a sweet sauce - almost like a pureed chutney. Both of us agreed these were easily the best we've ever eaten.

We ordered 3 dishes: butter chicken (of course), shrimp biryani, eggplant barta. A basket of garlic naan was also in order to sop up all the velvety butter chicken sauce.

There is no butter chicken that can compare with C of I's version. Nice chunks of breast meat, ample portion and a sauce that made my taste buds explode with elation.

The biryani had 4 huge shrimp in it - and I mean jumbo. Most places add in, well... shrimpy shrimp. These were nice and meaty, requiring 2 bites. As well, my personal pet peeve is overcooked shrimp. Not a chance here. Perfectly done. The rice was delicately seasoned and buttery. It was a race to see who would get the last spoonful.

The barta had smoky roasted eggplant with tender peas and there wasn't the usual pool of oil for the peas to do a backstroke in. Deliciously seasoned with a nice finish.

The garlic naan was warm, not over-garlicky and sprinkled with parsley. Yuuum.

Husband had the rice pudding (delish) and I had the kulfi. He wanted an herbal tea - there were two selections, one of which was English breakfast (definitely not herbal).

Service was impeccable - attentive but not intrusive. Water glasses were kept full. Plates were brought to the table WARM!! As he placed the cutlery on either side, he polished it clean. Wow...

For all, without alcohol, with tax, tip, it was about $75.00.

I think it's strange there is another location nearby at Yonge and Eglinton but at least it'll give the uptowners an option when this phenomenal place starts to enjoy a line-up.

My only criticism is the unattractive hydrant yellow paint on the walls. A warm saffron reminiscent of the spice cabinets of India would be more inviting and give it the upscale look it's striving for.

So, my fellow foodies, run to this delightful and delish place and report back!

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  1. I'm glad to see this review. I've always loved the Chef of India near Yonge and Eglinton and haven't tried the new location yet. Thanks!

    1. Best butter chicken in TO?! May be you haven't tried Maroli's version?!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Charles Yu

        I haven't but rest assured, I will!!

        1. re: Mitzimouse

          I ordered from Maroli last night, and I have to say that the butter chicken was delicious. I also loved the mutton stew. The malabar chicken had an interesting taste, but was maybe a bit dry for my liking (although having it with the other saucy dishes made up for that). They don't have naan, but the roti was also delicious. All in all, a great meal.

      2. I've been to the lunch buffet at the Y & E location several times and thought it was just fabulous. Best Nan and Tandoori chicken I've had. And I've eaten at a few other places but at 27 and MG area.


        1. I ran when it first opened - and haven't even limped back.
          There's nothing wrong with it at all - to me it just seemed the same pre-prepared sauces with no layers of flavour - just 'hot'.
          Some of the textures were fine, but the onion bhajia was over-floured (the pieces were small, giving a high ratio of chickpea flour to onion. This made the dish very dry). However, to their credit, they did offer 3 different chutneys (although the strange dishes made it difficult to avoid spilling them on the tablecloth).

          Service was offhand, and the rice was obviously reheated (we went early evening and my guess was the rice was leftover from lunch).
          Mains were competent - but that's about it - and the price was 40-50% higher than for comparable meals elsewhere. And our Naan (admittedly hot) didn't arrive until we were 80% through the meal.
          My review would have been 'just another Indian restaurant' - except I usually attempt to give places a second try before reviewing. Here I never bothered to go back.

          Incidentally, a general comment that applies to MANY restaurants. This place had an 'opening special' of 20% off (with coupon). But I didn't have a coupon (they were handed out on street). Yet I saw other patrons using them. But I didn't get a 20% credit - why wouldn't they have given me a 20% off voucher 'for my next visit'? If someone has made the effort to come by, then try and lure them back.

          11 Replies
          1. re: estufarian

            Estu, I completely agree with you.

            The food at Chef of India is lacklustre.

            1. re: Fwagra

              Was this even the same place? Our experience was a complete 180. We even chatted with other diners who also felt like we did. Maybe they've refined their act?

              1. re: Mitzimouse

                Well, I don't know.

                I started going to this place very frequently when it opened some time ago. I went too often, actually. I just loved it so much.

                Then, my office moved. I expanded my Indian restaurant repetoire to include Maroli, King Palace, Trimurti, Amaya, Anjappar Chettinad, Saravana Bhavan, and Lahore Tikka House to name a few. That's when I realized that Chef is/was not that great. In fact, it pales in comparison to all of those places. To put it bluntly, when compared with those places, Chef stinks.

                That's my take on it.

                That being said, a few weeks ago, my friend suggested we go to Chef of India. He loves it.

                I was appalled. The food was nothing but their reheated buffet food. Their buffet food is mediocre to begin with, compared to other buffets. They charged outrageous prices.

                I will not return of Chef of India. Thankfully, one does not have tolerate such poor Indian cuisine in this great city.

                1. re: Fwagra

                  Did you try the butter chicken at anjappar, its so good, at the brampton location.

                  1. re: chillihigh

                    Hell, yes! That's the location I go to. And, man, that food is gosh darn fabulous. Honestly, not to belabour the point (to late for that I suppose) but Anajappar makes Chef of India look like McDonald's.

                    1. re: Fwagra

                      Have you tried the Eglinton Anjappar? Is there a difference? One of my best Indian meals of all time was at the one on Eglinton.

                      1. re: Snarf

                        I have not tried it. Only the Brampton location. Love it.

                  2. re: Fwagra

                    I would also add Savera at St. Clair and Christie to the list of excellent Indian takeout - it's fabulous. Very different from most of the other Indian food I have had in the city - they use little if any ghee or cream (something I find other restaurants tend to load up on as a substitute for good spicing and ingredients) - their food is beautifully spiced. It's my favourite.

                  3. re: Mitzimouse

                    Just a thought - other threads have noted that the 'original' on Eglinton has gone downhill recently. Posssibly they moved the chef to the Yonge & St Clair location. Maybe I'll give it another try (if I can find the 20% off voucher).

                    1. re: estufarian

                      Give it another try. It was really good. I think the chef IS there - according to the waiter.

                      1. re: Mitzimouse

                        Well, I promised to try it again – and it was a great improvement. Not perfect – but certainly I’m willing to try for a third time.

                        The ‘sweet’ limeade was perfect for the meal. More tart than sweet (which is what I prefer anyway). The pappadum (complimentary) was just OK. Crisp, not greasy, but overall quite bland. And the Onion Bhajia was an improvement over the pitiful version last time. The pieces were larger (and fewer) so the balance of onion and flour was much better. The two dips were both excellent. But the dish itself was slightly greasy (IU still finished it).

                        This time the service was superb – some of the best I’ve had at Indian restaurants in Toronto. Right through from welcome to delivery of the bill. (and the server was different from my previous visit).

                        The rice was a bit bland (had the pilau) but well-cooked, possibly a little too moist, but that’s personal preference (last time it was dried-out – definitely not a preference).
                        Mains were Chicken Korma, and Lamb Madras. Both very good, but a little bland for my palate. Again this was personal preference as I think many customers prefer less-spicy.

                        So, overall much improved. Plus they gave me the 10% discount this time, so the pricing was fair.

              2. Unless things dramatiscally changed (and I'd like to get details about the improvements) I am not going there. I posted not so long ago about Chef of India on Eglinton East. : Warm white wine, inept servers, slow service. I tried lunch, supper and 'All-you-can-Eat'. Enough to inspire me not to go again.