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Amaya Review

e
evansl Jun 9, 2010 02:45 AM

I tried Amaya soon after they opened and was not impressed. OK, but not great. Given all they rave reviews, I began to think that I must have missed something, so I just gave them another try. This time it was even worse. Summary: Amaya is poor food, terrible value and about the last place I’d ever go for an Indian meal in Toronto.

Here’s a dish-by dish run down:

Fried squid rings. Four pieces of fried, shoe-leather tough squid coated with Shake & Bake. It was just the toughest fried squid I’ve ever had. You can do better getting bulk frozen squid rings in plastic bags from one of those discount seafood places around town. It was an outrage to pay a restaurant $9 for such crap. It would have been an outrage to pay 9 cents.

Baked White fish. Two small pieces of nicely cooked fish in an undistinguished and bland sauce.

Country chicken: A few lumps of chicken served in a sauce that had the consistency tomato paste. The dominant taste was heat, and there was only a mild taste of spice and seasoning.

Garlic naan. Wimpy and insipid with no garlic taste. I should have been suspicious from the start. I noticed that there were no tandoori dishes on the menu, which likely means that they don’t have a tandoori or a tandoori chef. Since you can’t make real naan without a tandoori, ordering it was a bad idea.

Rice. Average. They have the usual obscenely overpriced rice you get in Indian restaurants. $4 for 25 cents worth of plain rice. I’m willing to bet that this is where they make their money. It’s like the soft drinks at fast food places. The hamburgers are only a come-on to get you to buy a Pepsi.

For this substandard food, I paid about and extra third to half more than typical Indian restaurants with better food and no pretensions about being “fine dining.” (I did I mention the 400+% markup on bottled beer?) It’s not as if you were paying for fancy overhead. The restaurant itself is plain with no décor and has kind of informal service that you would expect at Milestones. They do get one plus, however, because no one addressed us as “Hi guys!!” That alone, is almost win me over these days.

In sum, Amaya is overhyped, overpriced and serves subpar Indian food. I simply cannot imagine how this place could get positive, let alone rave, reviews.

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Amaya
1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

  1. y
    ylsf Jun 2, 2011 05:38 PM

    Going to Amaya Bread Bar on Saturday. For those regulars what do you recommend both vegetarian and meat wise. Using a $20 for $40 groupon so sure it will be a good value meal :)

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    Amaya
    1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

    1. m
      ManAbout Apr 3, 2011 11:39 AM

      Amaya falls in the top 3 Indian restaurants I have eaten at in Toronto.

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      Amaya
      1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

      1. c
        Chocolatemama Apr 1, 2011 11:01 AM

        I am quite surprised that anyone would describe the food at Amaya as being so `subpar`. I have been to both the Indian Room and the Bread Bar and found their food to be above average. Both my husband and I really enjoyed our meals and the only reason we haven`t been in a while is because it is far out for us. I do agree that the prices are high, but in my opinion, you do get higher quality for your money. I purchased a groupon today and am looking forward to our next visit.

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        Amaya
        1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

        9 Replies
        1. re: Chocolatemama
          r
          reversi Apr 1, 2011 11:09 AM

          I went to amaya because of all the rave reviews on chowhound. I love the threads here and have found some great places, but the Indian food reviews here don't work for me at all. The best Indian place I've been to so far, other than Ambiyan, has been Anjappar Chettinad.

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

          Ambiyan
          149 Main St, Markham, ON L3R, CA

          1. re: reversi
            f
            froglegs Apr 1, 2011 01:04 PM

            Amaya is delicous. I cannot agree with you!

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            Amaya
            1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

            1. re: reversi
              c
              childofthestorm Apr 1, 2011 01:27 PM

              But the Anjappar Chettinad recommendation is spot on!

              Amaya is fusion food, in the style of - but nowhere near the quality and inventiveness - my favourite Indian restaurant in Canada, Vij's in Vancouver. My Indian wife really enjoys the food at Amaya, and we've eaten there a few times, plus we hit the Express in Leslieville for takeout on occasion. Her take on it is usually "it's not authentic, but it tastes good."

              For me, the best Indian food in Toronto focuses on specific regions. Anjappar Chettinad is great, but you want to stick to the South Indian/Tamil Nadu specialities. Don't go in there and order butter chicken. 786 is another that I like a lot for Pakistani/Northern Indian styles, but again, stick to what they do best. The whole fried fish at 786 is one of the best fish experiences in the city.

              1. re: childofthestorm
                c
                chillihigh Apr 1, 2011 05:44 PM

                Actually,
                i happen to love the butter chicken at anjappar, the sauce is excellent, and the chicken is tender never overcooked. exactly like back home. Their naan is super too. Most south indian chefs also make really good north indian food. (and other cuisines too, most chefs in toronto are either south indian/srilankan).

                1. re: chillihigh
                  c
                  childofthestorm Apr 1, 2011 06:25 PM

                  Ha, fair enough! It's a great spot.

                2. re: childofthestorm
                  a
                  abigllama Apr 1, 2011 06:30 PM

                  Interesting the love/hate Amaya gets on here. Have been to Amaya and The Bread Bar and the latter is our Indian go to because it's easier for us to get to it. Spicing is always interesting, nothing is every too greasy, and the meat dishes are usually cooked perfectly. Amaya Express in Dupont is our delivery stanby, not quite as good as Bread Bar but still very enjoyable.

                  Vij's happens to be my favourite Indian in Canada as well. I never thought of Amaya as fusion but that does make sense. They have dishes you can order at most Indian places but there's usually unique twist to it.

                  1. re: childofthestorm
                    a
                    Apprentice Apr 3, 2011 08:20 AM

                    I disagree with the notion that Amaya is fusion food. It is trying to be upscale Indian. Apart from a few dishes that deviate from traditional Indian cuisine, I see very little culinary influences outside of India that would constitute their recipes being "fusion". IMO fusion food would incorporate a myriad of spicing, cooking techniques, main ingredients from multiple ethnic and regional influences.

                    I don't think Vij's is "fusion" either. IMO it's simply upscale Indian food. To separate oneself from typical Indian restaurants, there is very little one can do to make Indian food upscale other than to freshly grind spices and incorporate more expensive cuts of meat (e.g. duck breast, rib-eye steaks). In addition, employ higher standards of service and ambiance (including beer and wine). This is exactly what Vij's and Amaya tries to do. However, the main spicing and flavouring at Vij's and Amaya is from the Indian subcontinent - which does not make it "fusion" food. My 2 cents.

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                    Amaya
                    1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                    1. re: Apprentice
                      c
                      childofthestorm Apr 3, 2011 08:35 AM

                      Sure. But Vij himself describes his food as fusion in his cookbooks. He's a French-trained chef and incorporates those techniques, plus the different choices in proteins that you describe.

                      1. re: childofthestorm
                        a
                        Apprentice Apr 3, 2011 09:10 AM

                        Then Vij and I can disagree...lol. And what he says doesn't mean is correct or necessary for others to agree with. FWIW Vij and I are of the same opinion that Bombay Bhel serves decent Indian food, although it can be "heavy" and oily (e.g. Channa Bhatura). Most foodies and hounds, have panned Bombay Bhel.

                        Oh and Amaya is the first Indian restaurant he'll mention about Toronto...

                        And I agree with you on two points: Anjapar makes a decent Crab Curry...and that the biggest failing of Indian restaurant patrons is to order dishes outside a restaurants regional specialty...

              2. r
                reversi Apr 1, 2011 08:28 AM

                I completely agree with evansl here. This was the most mediocre Indian food I've had. I went there twice, and trying 4 different dishes, nothing stood out. The only Indian restaurant that is a little pricey, but what I felt was worth the cost was Ambiyan in Markham.

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                Ambiyan
                149 Main St, Markham, ON L3R, CA

                1 Reply
                1. re: reversi
                  a
                  Apprentice Apr 1, 2011 10:40 AM

                  Interesting you prefer Ambiyan because Amaya's head chef was the consulting chef for Ambiyan.

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                  Ambiyan
                  149 Main St, Markham, ON L3R, CA

                  Amaya
                  1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                2. p
                  pakmode Apr 1, 2011 08:06 AM

                  Has anything changed at Amaya in the past year?
                  They're featured on Groupon today - a $40 gift certificate for $20.

                  http://www.groupon.com/deals/amayas-r...

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                  Amaya
                  1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pakmode
                    prima Apr 1, 2011 10:50 AM

                    Haven't been to Amaya, but Amaya Bread Bar was very good when I dined there in January.

                    I'm finding the Groupons, Dealicious and WagJags don't end up saving me any money. The 2 times I've been at a table that has used them, the table ends up going overboard, and we end up ordering and spending more than we'd normally spend, beyond the value of the coupon, at restaurants we normally might not choose to visit.

                    YMMV.

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                    Avli
                    401 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P1, CA

                    Amaya
                    1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                    Wabora
                    550 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2V4, CA

                  2. b
                    blinknoodle Jun 10, 2010 05:40 AM

                    Personally, I love Amaya and I have been many times. I enjoy the flavourful dishes without as much heat. I really like the butter chicken and eggplant dish. I wish I knew their recipes so I could make it at home. It is pricey and likely loaded with cream, so not an every day jaunt.

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                    Amaya
                    1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                    1. d
                      dubchild Jun 9, 2010 12:27 PM

                      Since someone asked for more CHs to wiegh in... I went once and won't go back. I was excited about this place because they also focus on wine and someone said they could pair the dishes. Pairing wines with Indian food is not easy and Amaya definitely failed. The problem with the pairings, and their food in general, is the aggressive use of spices, to the point that some dishes had a grainy texture. I was hoping to find a fine dining Indian restaurant, instead it was average food that can be found at most indian restaurant, a wine list and slightly higher prices. On the plus side, service was great and they made an effort to pair the food with wine.

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                      Amaya
                      1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                      1. Dimbulb Jun 9, 2010 07:53 AM

                        The oven is called a tandoor. The food cooked in them is tandoori.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Dimbulb
                          j
                          jamesm Jun 9, 2010 07:54 AM

                          And they do serve Northern inspired dishes with tandoori flavours.

                        2. a
                          Apprentice Jun 9, 2010 07:21 AM

                          Sorry you had a poor experience. I've only been to Amaya once but our experience was decent except for one disch which was inedibly "hot" (it was either the vindaloo or chicken curry).

                          That being said we are frequent diners of Amaya bread bar/express. Their sweet and sour eggplant is the best Indian version of eggplant I've ever eaten (I generally dislike eggplant). Their dal makhani is on par with anywhere in the city for my tastes. Finally they consistently cook their lamb tender but with "bite". I've even had the "audacity" to serve their food to my Indian counterparts who were shocked at the quality of the food. This does not mean my opinion should invalidate yours; just providing another perspective.

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                          Amaya
                          1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                          1. s
                            Sooo Goood Jun 9, 2010 04:48 AM

                            I'm going to have to disagree with you. I've been to Amaya twice and have found the dishes to be excellent. Modern Indian fare.

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                            Amaya
                            1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Sooo Goood
                              d
                              downtownfoodie Jun 9, 2010 06:41 AM

                              More CH's please weigh in on this...I jave been wanting to try this place for a while and now I'm not so sure.

                              Evansl, I note that you panned Dhaba, the Host, Cuisine of India in other posts (and LWH, which I like). Is it just a general dissatisfaction with Indian dining in Toronto or is there somewhere where you would recommend?

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