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Indian food on Gerrard Street - where to start?

millygirl Apr 10, 2010 02:14 PM

Mr Millygirl and I are not too familiar with indian food, and in particular Gerrard Street. We would like to try a few places but have no idea where to start? We've been hearing a lot about dosas lately, so that's definitely on the list. What are your favourite restaurants on that strip, and what's not to be missed? Also who has the best dosa?

Keep in mind we like some heat, but not killer.

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  1. munchieHK RE: millygirl Apr 10, 2010 02:40 PM

    I have tried most of the supposedly decent places on Gerrard ad I can unequivocally state that none of them are worth much. They are all heartbreakingly mediocre. The best of a poor lot would be Udupi Palace, if you don't mind vege. Their dosas are not bad. My standards for Indian food are admittedly high, having traveled there extensively and having lived in Hong Kong for 10 years, where you will find some of the best Indian food in the world, but I still expected more from TO with its huge Indian and Tamil populations. Within subway range, the only place I would highly recommend is Maroli in the Annex. They are truly about crafting genuinely excellent food. They don't use a mother sauce and kick up the heat to disguise poor ingredients. Maroli will fit your needs perfectly. People tend to forget that not all Indian food is particularly spicy, in fact a lot of it is not. Maroli focuses on flavour and balance. They understand subtelty and are thus more authentic than anything in Little India. Go on the weekend when they have special dishes available.
    Another worthwhile place is Anjappar Chettinad, although you'll need to drive for that one. I love their breakfasts and they are very authentic. You will likely be the only non-Indians in the place. It is very friendly and laid back. The staff will be very helpful and attentive to your needs.
    Those are the only two places that come close to my standard that I have found. I would love to hear about any others. I still have not tried 786 in Little India, but some people seem to like it. I won't hold my breath.

    Udupi Palace
    1460 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L2A3, CA

    630 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: munchieHK
      Full tummy RE: munchieHK Apr 10, 2010 03:13 PM

      I second the recommendation for Anjappar Chettinad. Now that would be a great dosa experience. My ate my first dosa there; they have quite a few to choose from and do them well. Excellent food! Too bad it's not in Little India! But the place is clean and comfortable.

      Little India
      255 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V1Z4, CA

      Anjappar Chettinad
      3090 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, ON M1J2H1, CA

    2. g
      garfield RE: millygirl Apr 10, 2010 02:41 PM

      I am not a dosa connoisseur , but I think Udipi is a safe place in that area.In fact , it could probably be the only one.It will not wow you, though.
      Other than that the only place I frequent is Lahore Tikka.The dishes are most likely not prepared fresh and are microwaved, so they tend to be greasy and oily , but flavorful.

      1. Full tummy RE: millygirl Apr 10, 2010 03:15 PM

        Just wanted to add the link.

        Anjappar Chettinad
        3090 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, ON M1J2H1, CA

        10 Replies
        1. re: Full tummy
          millygirl RE: Full tummy Apr 10, 2010 03:33 PM

          Thanks for the info on Anjappar Chettinad. Perhaps one day I will check it out.

          For the time being though I am hoping for some recommendations in Little India. Since it's fairly close to our home it's pretty much our main reason for wanting to check it out.

          1. re: millygirl
            Leslieville RE: millygirl Apr 10, 2010 03:43 PM

            Personally I like Regency on Gerrard although it has it's critics. We go for the buffett. I'm not an expert in that cuisine,but I find that I can try a variety of things and decide what I like. We use to get excellent Dosa's at Siddartha vegetarian restaurant, but it has closed. Dosa's are apparently a South Indian dish and not everyone does them. Lahore Tikka House and most of the new restaurants are Pakistani and seem not to serve the same dishes. Hope you find something you like.

            1. re: Leslieville
              pearlD RE: Leslieville Apr 10, 2010 05:25 PM

              We too like "Regency" and after trying some others on that strip over the years (New Haandi 2000, Siddartha, BBQ Hut and Lahore Tikka) we've gone back to the Regency and we have been more than satisfied that 'this' is our place on the strip. Off the strip we did go to Marioli (Bloor Street) last year and liked it, Banjara (Bloor Street also)IMO not as good as when it first opened ..... closer to home we really really like "Savera" on St.Clair West , past Christie..Savera would be my top spot BUT we do like to go to Gerrard Street (plus a little look see at "Rang" every trip and a stop in at Kohinoor making it a real 'night out'!)

              796 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L7, CA

            2. re: millygirl
              Full tummy RE: millygirl Apr 10, 2010 05:56 PM

              I know! It's so close to me, too. However, I find myself choosing to make the much longer trip to AC rather than ending up at one of the places in Little India. That said, if I want quick take-out, I usually head to Moti Mahal.

              I have been to Udupi Palace and enjoyed it well enough; they have quite a variety of dosas on their menu, so I would probably start there.


              Udupi Palace
              1460 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L2A3, CA

              1. re: Full tummy
                munchieHK RE: Full tummy Apr 10, 2010 06:24 PM

                I agree. If it must be Little India and it's dosas you want, Udupi Palace is the place. You won't do better in the area. One other place I kind of enjoy is the relatively new Bombay Chowpatty. It's not a dinner place, but if you just want a light meal and drink, they serve a pretty darn good Pav Bhaji and some super decadent potions.
                I do keep hearing good things about 786, though. I went past it today and there is a new sign up announcing that they now serve a buffet - $11.99 for lunch. guess they must have resisted up till this point but finally caved. Still, ever the sucker I will check it out soon.

                Udupi Palace
                1460 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L2A3, CA

                1. re: munchieHK
                  Full tummy RE: munchieHK Apr 10, 2010 06:29 PM

                  Thanks for the recommendation re. Pav Bhaji... Wondered where to get a good one.

                  1. re: Full tummy
                    munchieHK RE: Full tummy Apr 10, 2010 06:35 PM

                    you're welcome. It's a fun little place run by lovely people. They have a full selection of paan as well.

                  2. re: munchieHK
                    shakkar RE: munchieHK Apr 12, 2010 03:12 PM

                    Bombay Chowpatty is probably the only place i will eat at on Gerrard St.There are better Indian restaurants in Toronto ,but the ones on Gerrard St are not the best.

                2. re: millygirl
                  foodyDudey RE: millygirl Apr 10, 2010 07:11 PM

                  For South Indiian food, Udupi "Palace" (actually a basement) has already been mentioned. http://www.udupipalace.ca/

                  We haven't been for dinner in over a year now, but Mahar and "Famous" both had good buffets. If you have not eaten Indian food much, a buffet is a good way to be able to sample various items. Mahar is where we would usually go for a buffet, but a friend of mine mentioned the Famous restaurant and we found that one good also.

                  1. re: foodyDudey
                    Full tummy RE: foodyDudey Apr 11, 2010 06:25 AM

                    I agree with your point that for those new to Indian food a buffet is a good place to start. Generally, the flavours are more muted and palatable. I often find that the same restaurant will serve very different dishes when ordered à la carte than what they have at the buffet. And once you move on to ordering from the menu and find restaurants with flavours that inspire your developing palate, then, at that stage, it's hard to go back to the buffet. At least that's what I have found.

              2. k
                KitchenVoodoo RE: millygirl Apr 10, 2010 03:42 PM

                Where to start? Stay home! I agree with HKMunchie. I can't believe how bad it is for what should be a go to stretch for Indian close to downtown. It's like the equivalent of a strip filled with McD's, Burger King, KFC and calling it Canadian food. But if you must venture in, I would say Uddipi has the only passable Dosa Masala and the BBQ Hut is safe for tandoori - get chicken tikka or a half chicken from the tandoor, and some nan bread, their veggie samosas are o.k., some rice and veg curry would round things out. BUT if anything looks like it came out of the tandoor hours/days ago send it back and insist on freshly cooked meat. That is the point of the tandoor being there. Same with the nan bread - theirs is good but only if fresh. The room is eyerollingly awful, so is the Uddipi. None of the above is terribly "heat" spicy.
                NOTE: today I sampled the GURU line of bottled curry sauses at the SLM North and they are pretty good. So if you want to whip up a butter chicken at home that might bea quick and easy way to go. $6 for a jar. You add your own cream or yogurt so it's healthier than in restuarant. They have recipes on line and retail locations - they are not available yet in Little India.

                1. y
                  YummyYummy RE: millygirl Apr 10, 2010 03:57 PM

                  I just finished eating a vegetable thali at Moti Mahal about an hour ago. It comes with rice, naan bread other stuff plus your choice of 2 different types of vegetarian curries. I specifically chose karela (bitter melon and onion cooked with Indian spices) because this vegetable is known to have health benefits such as fighting diabetes etc. My other choice I don't remember the name, but it tasted good. LOL

                  My vegetable thali meal cost me exactly $8 taxes in at Moti Mahal on Gerrard Street.

                  Here's the address:

                  Moti Mahal
                  1422 Gerrard Street East

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: YummyYummy
                    koknia RE: YummyYummy Apr 10, 2010 06:42 PM

                    I'm a Moti Mahal veg thali guy, and have been since '85. It's not "mediocre", it's great for the price and very consistent. It ain't fine dining, but it's mighty tasty. I usually have the mali kofta and whichever other veg looks freshest. Bhindi (okra) can be good. For an extra buck you can have parantha instead of nan. If you go non-veg try the butter chicken.
                    The place is packed with Indians when most of the other places out there are empty. There has to be a reason for that.

                  2. Olivia RE: millygirl Apr 11, 2010 07:00 PM

                    I like Moti Mahal too, also because they have sweets there, and it's worth mentioning that it's very casual (fast-food style), so you can grab a snack, a meal, a sweet, or all three without feeling like you're taking up a table unnecessarily.

                    An interesting place is Chandi Chowk. When we moved into our current house, their delivery menu was left behind, and we tried it--for the price point, it's pretty good, with a very generous dinner for two for $20. Walking by months later though, I finally saw the restaurant and realized normally I would never order food from a place that grotty looking!
                    (entrance is through the doors under the sign that says "India Centre" in the picture)

                    1. FoodieGirl29 RE: millygirl Apr 11, 2010 07:32 PM

                      We always go to Siddartha for their lunch buffet ($10.99) or dinner buffet ($12.99). It's not super spicy, so it's good for beginners and they have a great spread. So you can try a little bit of everything to decide what you like. The place is always packed, the staff are friendly and there is lots of meat and paneer in their curry dishes.

                      Lisa - The Hip & Urban Girl's Guide @ http://www.hipurbangirl.com

                      1. Underdog Rally RE: millygirl Apr 12, 2010 11:07 AM

                        So many outraged connoisseurs :).

                        Anyways, the Gerrard Bazaar is definitely not about fine dining. For my parents, much of the appeal is nostalgic, and I think that has rubbed off on me. I like to go on a warm afternoon and just snack my way down the road. So a typical stroll through with my wife will include Sev puri and a sweet + mango lassi from one of the little stalls or snack shops (they're pretty much interchangeable, just look for signs), some roasted corn and sugercane juice if it's being freshly pressed, a footlong kebab and naan from Chandni Chowk, a dosa from Udupi, and maybe a thali from Moti Mahal.

                        Try to make it a broader experience than just one meal. Browse the clothing stores for neat patterns. If you're feeling adventurous, Apollo Beauty can do a simple mehndi pattern on one hand in a few minutes, though you won't be able to use that hand for a while! The bazaar can make for a nice date, but if it's just a quick sit-down meal you're after you'll probably be disappointed (or worse, scared off).

                        Chandni Chowk Restaurant
                        1430 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L1Z6, CA

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Underdog Rally
                          koknia RE: Underdog Rally Apr 12, 2010 07:20 PM

                          Yes, to suggest people who eat at the Moti don't know anything about good food is a bit much. Check that place on weekends, it's packed with affluent Indian families, many of them visiting from the US. They aren't after fine dining, they are after simple tasty fare that reminds them of home.
                          I have also spent tons of time wandering and eating in the backstreets of India etc etc and I think it holds up just fine.

                          1. re: Underdog Rally
                            garfield RE: Underdog Rally Apr 12, 2010 07:56 PM

                            That was a cute little writeup UR, capturing the spirit of Gerard nicely. I would also add having a pan, which is a betel leaf packed with condiments.i wonder how many non Indians on this board have tried it.

                            1. re: garfield
                              Olivia RE: garfield Apr 16, 2010 04:06 AM

                              Good call on the paan/pan. I agree, as it's a very unique experience.

                              1. re: Olivia
                                Bigtigger RE: Olivia Sep 26, 2010 05:53 PM

                                I live and breathe for butter chicken, and have enjoyed it everywhere I have sampled it in Toronto - until tonight, that is. Based on enthusiastic recommendations scattered on different threads on the Board, we went to Motimahal after church this evening. Yes, it was packed. No, we had no idea it was cafeteria service but we can roll with that punch. Cheerful, yes - cheap ? not so much. Friendly ? very. BUT the famed butter chicken was served on the bone (except for two anemic pieces of breastmeat) in a bowl with only a plastic spoon for a utensil. We could even have lived with that. But the flavour of the abundant gravy (gravy to meat ratio 4:1 or greater) was a dank, earthy sort of smokey and frankly unpleasant one - totally unlike any butter chicken I have ever experienced before. The accompanying naan (paid for separately) were heavy and lacked the flakey, buttery-yeasty taste I have enjoyed elsewhere. My friend's thali plate he pronounced "interesting" but left half of it untouched. The mango lassi was very good.

                                $39 for that food in those surroundings seemed like a lot especially since my own order was 3/4 unconsumed. I wonder if their butter chicken is more "authentic" ? if so I will cheerfully stick to westernized versions in future. Anyway, not a great evening, certainly an experience...

                                1422 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L1Z6, CA

                                1. re: Bigtigger
                                  scarberian RE: Bigtigger Sep 26, 2010 07:07 PM

                                  Maybe you picked up the wrong dish? I've been eating at Moti for over 10 years and I don't recall their butter chicken having bones. I just had it this past summer and I remember it being boneless and the sauce was creamy not earthy or smokey. I'm sorry to hear that you had a bad experience there -- maybe a new cook or someone in the back didn't know what they were doing.? Anyway give em another try and report back.

                                  1. re: scarberian
                                    Bigtigger RE: scarberian Sep 27, 2010 05:55 AM

                                    Scarberian, we very distinctly asked for butter chicken when ordering from the counter attendant who spoke clear English himself; and when picking up our order from the counter 10 mins later we both repeated "butter chicken" as the bowls were handed to us. It is possible there was an error but I don't think so.

                                    1. re: Bigtigger
                                      scarberian RE: Bigtigger Sep 27, 2010 03:33 PM

                                      I hope this isn't a sign of bad things to come from Moti Mahal, but rather an error from the kitchen. It's been our go to Indian place for years and it would be sad to see it go down hill.

                                      Mahal Restaurant
                                      22 King St E, Hamilton, ON L8N1A3, CA

                                      1. re: Bigtigger
                                        drjolt RE: Bigtigger Sep 28, 2010 10:39 AM

                                        We recently placed our first order from Moti Mahal as well and our chicken had bones also. Some were partially crushed by a knife so that they dissolved in little slivers in your mouth when you tried to eat it. Also didn't like the naan. Too bad, as I had really been looking forward to it. But I don't think we'll be back.

                                        Mahal Restaurant
                                        22 King St E, Hamilton, ON L8N1A3, CA

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