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take-out from Amaya Express- Yonge St location- not impressed

p
phoenikia Nov 14, 2009 03:28 PM

Decided to give Amaya Express a second try.

This time I ordered butter chicken, aloo gobi & rice.

The aloo gobi was a very wet, tomato based version I wasn't expecting- usually, in my experience, aloo gobi is more dry, and contains enough turmeric to make the dish a yellow colour. Mind you, since aloo gobi just means potato cauliflower, I'm sure various versions exist. Some of the flavours in this version were unpleasantly sharp in one bite, non-existent in the next.

The pieces of chicken in the butter chicken were dry, and the sauce was missing something, not sure what. Very tomatoey, very red version- not rich and creamy. The rice was fine.

During the summer, I ordered the dal makhani, mutter paneer and halibut ambotik. Not impressed enough by any of those dishes to give them another chance.

Am I just ordering badly? Or maybe Amaya's style just isn't to my taste? What dishes do you like at Amaya Express?

For Indian take-out north of Lawrence and south of Finch, I much prefer the food I've ordered at Cuisine of India.

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Amaya
1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

Cuisine of India
1992 Yonge St, Toronto, ON , CA

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  1. TorontoJo Nov 14, 2009 03:45 PM

    I like the chicken vindaloo, the beef masala and the chana masala.

    1. m
      ManAbout Nov 14, 2009 03:59 PM

      I have had the Chicken Tikka Masala and Saag Lamb. They are both the best versions of the dish I have tasted in Toronto. Also, the dry Aloo Gobi you mention is the Punjabi style. There are many versions of it. But, like you, I prefer the dry one.

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      Masala Restaurant
      205 Duke St, Dryden, ON P8N1G9, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: ManAbout
        TorontoJo Nov 14, 2009 04:08 PM

        Ooh, yes, the chicken tikka masala is very good.

      2. Charles Yu Nov 14, 2009 04:15 PM

        Tried both take-out and dine-in at both Amaya and Amaya Express a year ago. Like yourself was not impressed and found it over-rated. Food tasted very ordinary. Cuisine of India is definitely better but that too has gone downhill a bit, ever since they opened up a branch in Markham. Just cannot understand why quality of Indian food in Toronto is so mediocre when compared to say London or even Vancouver. We do have quite a huge South-Asian population!!

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        Amaya
        1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

        Cuisine of India
        1992 Yonge St, Toronto, ON , CA

        7 Replies
        1. re: Charles Yu
          m
          ManAbout Nov 14, 2009 04:36 PM

          While not every dish is a winner, people that know Indian food have high praise for the Amaya restaurants.

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          Amaya
          1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

          1. re: ManAbout
            Googs Nov 15, 2009 07:00 AM

            We're people who know Indian food and we don't.

            1. re: ManAbout
              j
              jakhtar Nov 16, 2009 09:19 AM

              I know Indian food (I'm Indian and grew up eating it almost every day). I don't have high praise for Amaya - it's overpriced, underflavoured (any flavour that does exist is one-note - no layers or complexity), and highly pretentious. Amaya = Epic fail. I just don't understand why people rave about it.

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              Amaya
              1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

              1. re: jakhtar
                e
                erly Nov 16, 2009 09:59 AM

                jakhtar
                For fine Indian Dining, what places do you recommend?
                We do go to Amaya, because they do very good Lamb.
                Their Tandoori Lamb is excellent.
                I have never been enamoured with their veggie choices.
                Would love an alternative.

                -----
                Amaya
                1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                1. re: erly
                  Charles Yu Nov 16, 2009 02:53 PM

                  It might not be called 'Fine Dining', but, on a good night 'Chauhan' on 323 Denison can dish out some really tasty dishes.

                  1. re: Charles Yu
                    j
                    jakhtar Nov 17, 2009 12:46 PM

                    I've heard good things about Chauhan. For fine dining, I think The Host in Yorkville is tops. When Indian people want good Indian food, they go to The Host. They're also the top choice for catering Indian weddings.

                    I've noticed that there is a big difference between what non-Indians classify as 'good Indian food' and what Indians classify as 'good Indian food'. I'm sure the reasons are worthy of some sort of sociological study.

                    1. re: jakhtar
                      e
                      erly Nov 17, 2009 01:25 PM

                      Thanks jakhtar
                      This is where I usually take my Indian guests, but was hoping for a change.
                      Even my guests from Bangalore like it there, although the "heat" is not anywhere near what it is at home.
                      The Host it will be.

          2. miketoronto Nov 15, 2009 09:36 AM

            I went to Bread Bar a few weeks ago and had a solid meal. The best naan I've had in the city so far bar none. Their onion bhaji was excellent too. Our meat dishes were good but not great - lean meats like chicken almost always get overcooked in my Indian restaurant travels anyway so I didn't criticize too harshly (why I often opt for lamb).

            Once in their life, everyone needs to go to Kingston for Curry Original - by far the reigning butter chicken champions in my book. It's one of the only non tomato based butter chickens I've had, and it's unbelievable.

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            Curry Original
            278A Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L1B5, CA

            1. s
              swissmissy Nov 15, 2009 10:57 AM

              I was also very unimpressed with the butter chicken from Amaya. I do their vindaloos though. I suppose it is a matter of taste though because I have a few friends who swear that Amaya's butter chicken is the best.

              1. s
                Snarf Nov 15, 2009 12:47 PM

                Maybe it might be worth trying a few dishes at the table, as take-out is always a few rungs below. I have tried Bread Bar's food at the table, very good; Amaya, hit and miss with some dishes that just don't work. There are two locations of Amaya express, and the one on Bayview has it's own dedicated kitchen. Quality has been inconsistent since Two Doors South closed, so maybe they had to let go of a chef.

                As for what your ordered, was it the spicing, or was there a greasiness to it? I'm afeared of ordering fish in a takeout dish. Halibut's 15 seconds of fame leads quickly to nasty placs.

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                Amaya
                1701 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4G 2C1, CA

                8 Replies
                1. re: Snarf
                  p
                  phoenikia Nov 15, 2009 01:02 PM

                  The spicing seemed to be off in most of the dishes- the flavours hadn't married. Sort of a whack of sour, then a whack of spicy. They also seem to be heavy on a certain spice- maybe mustard seeds? Not sure if it was from speedy cooking? I don't know. I'm certainly not any sort of Indian cuisine expert ;-P !

                  Actually, Amaya Express is ungreasy for Indian take-out.

                  I realize dining in would likely result in more skilled cooking, but I didn't feel like the whole sit-down experience the other night- taking the water order, then the meal order, waiting for the bill, etc.

                  Also, not sure how comfortable I'd feel dining in the Bread Bar if I showed up in sweatpants & running shoes ;-)

                  Thanks for all your suggestions of vindaloos, ctm, channa masala, lamb saag, etc. Have circled them on the menu for future visits, should I not want to trek up to Cuisine of India for my take-out.

                  -----
                  Amaya
                  1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                  1. re: phoenikia
                    s
                    Snarf Nov 15, 2009 05:19 PM

                    Please post if you find anything else decent in the area for takeout. After Tabla's closure it's been hell trying to find an alternative. Debu's good, but a bit pricey. I haven't tried Jaipur in eons, and Mela's not in an area I generally think about.

                    1. re: Snarf
                      f
                      FresserGuy Nov 15, 2009 07:05 PM

                      I also found Amaya's takeout to be not so fantastic. But the other night, we had takeout from Banjara - I've always enjoyed their food at their Bloor st restaurant (at Christie), but now they have opened a second location, on Eglinton between Mt. Pleasant and Yonge. All the dishes were very tasty, the portions were a good size, and each dish had a different, unique taste.

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                      Banjara
                      796 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L7, CA

                      Amaya
                      1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                      1. re: Snarf
                        g
                        garfield Nov 15, 2009 09:29 PM

                        Jaipur Grille has been up to the mark the three times I have tried it. Any particular reason you stopped visiting?

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                        Jaipur Grille
                        2066 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A3, CA

                        1. re: garfield
                          s
                          Snarf Nov 16, 2009 08:06 AM

                          No particular reason specific to them. I thought it might have been a bit pricey when it opened, then I stopped ordering takeout for a few years, until all of a sudden, Tabla and Chakra were so close that I didn't think of it. Any comments I might have on the experience should probably be printed on a black and white website.

                          -----
                          Chakra
                          2497 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P2H6, CA

                    2. re: Snarf
                      p
                      phoenikia Jan 12, 2011 06:30 PM

                      So, I returned to Amaya Bread Bar tonight, but dined in, rather than getting take-out, and I was pleasantly surprised. The food inside the restaurant was much tastier and more inspired than the take-out I've ordered in the past. Soon after we arrived, a small amuse bouche of chicken bruschetta arrived at the table- sort of a fusiony naan with chutney. We ordered the $25 prix fixe, which came with moist chicken tikka, a samosa and pakora to start, followed by 2 meats (we chose the fish xacutti ($4 surcharge for fish) and lamb vindaloo- tangier than expected, but interesting) and 2 veg (eggplant and mutter paneer), rice, naan and dessert. Lots of food. Nice servers.

                      Not sure if Bread Bar has pulled up their socks since Copper Chimney arrived on the scene, but I was happy with our meal. We were planning to try Copper Chimney tonight, but needed to dine early, and Copper Chimney looked completely closed, with the lights off, at 4:45 pm, even though the sign stated they would be open at 5 pm. Wasn't sure if Copper Chimney operated on Indian Standard Time (that would be a joke- ha ha), so decided to dine at Amaya Bread Bar since it looked like it was ready for customers by the time we got there around 5 pm.

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                      Amaya
                      1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                      1. re: phoenikia
                        a
                        abigllama Jan 12, 2011 10:22 PM

                        Glad you enjoyed the meal at Bread Bar as it's my fave Indian in the city. The Amaya locations vary from location to location from my experience. We had a good meal at the original location on Bayview but weren't in a big rush to get back and it's a bit out of the way for us. We took up a Groupon offer for Amaya Bread Bar last fall and it was excellent. The Chicken 65 and Dal Makhani are faves and have fairly complex flavours. We've been back twice since and the location is super convenient being just off the subway.

                        We had Amaya Express from the Davenport location delivered last weekend and it was good. Not as good as what the Bread Bar but very enjoyable and we'd order again. Flavours were just a bit more flat but the Beef Vindaloo had a great kick and the meat was tender and juicy. One thing I really enjoy with all of the Amaya locations is that the food isn't very greasy. It's rich and filling but doesn't drag me down like some of the greasier places do.

                        1. re: phoenikia
                          TorontoJo Jan 13, 2011 04:22 AM

                          That's nice to hear. I've always been happy with my take out from there, but I agree that the eat in food is actually better.

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