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New Indian restaurant coming to Danforth Ave in original Mon-Kut-Thai location

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I just walked past and saw that Mon-Kut-Thai was closed, and the storefront has signs indication that a new Indian restaurant is opening. No opening date posted, but I'll post again if I find out anything. The signs mentioned "South Asian" and various fish dishes so I'm waiting as there is no decent Indian reataurant west of Pape.

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  1. Has anyone been? It is only open for dinner right now. I keep wanting to try it but haven't been able to make it yet. Prices are a bit high for what I typically pay at a South Indian restaurant -- in the $15-22 range, but perhaps it is higher quality food. Would love a review.

    3 Replies
    1. re: earthmomma

      When I checked 4 days ago, the windows were still covered. I'll go for a walk and check it out later today, and ask Mrs fD if she wants to try it for dinner.

      1. re: foodyDudey

        Thanks! It is definitely open. The owner (who seems really nice) opened last Saturday, but when we went to have an early dinner there we discovered he doesn't open until 5:30. We haven't been able to go back yet. I look forward to hearing what you think!

        1. re: earthmomma

          Maybe if it opened on Saturday, I must have checked last Thursday or Friday... I had meant to check this week. If I do try it out, I'll only order a few dishes as there will only be two of us. And I'll report back.

    2. I walked by two days ago and it was open with a couple of diners. It had a sign on the window saying that it was serving healthy, Keralan Indian cuisine. Prices were definitely higher than typical South Indian restaurants.

      9 Replies
      1. re: janel

        What is its name? Does it have a website?

        1. re: KitchenVoodoo

          It is called Aravind. I can't find any website or presence online, but it is still very new. I am dying to try it, but just haven't had a chance.

          1. re: earthmomma

            I finally tried it last night. The owner is certainly trying something unique to the city, which is upscale south indian food. I'm not sure there is another restaurant in Toronto that is doing what he is doing, and in many ways it is a lovely experience. Still, I have some mixed feelings about it -- though I am looking forward to seeing how the restaurant grows over time.

            When I sat down, I was poured a glass of Jeera water, which is a common way of drinking water in Kerala. It is basically water boiled with cumin. I enjoyed it and thought it was a nice touch. They also gave me some free nibbles while I was looking over the menu -- some plantain chips and some other sort of fried chippy things. They were tasty.

            The cocktail menu seems very creative. They have things like a rum mango lassi, and indian spiced caesars for $9. I didn't try one, but I will next time.

            Appetizers are about $8, and dinners range from about $14-22.

            I ordered the masala dosa ($14). It was served with mint chutney, coconut chutney, tomato chutney, two pieces of plantain, and a very small bowl of sambar. The presentation was beautiful. It was certainly tasty and I cleaned my plate, but here is where I started to have mixed feelings...

            I LOVE dosas. My favourite dosa place is Madras Masala at Christie where they have a variety of sizable dosas, crispy and generously stuffed, served with three chutneys and a generous bowl of sambar for $8.99. You can also order appetizers for under $5. It is authentic food, I am always satisfied when I leave there, and it is kind to my wallet.

            The plantain was a nice addition, and out of all the chutneys the tomato one really stood out -- it was totally delicious and definitely elevated the dish. But the dosa itself wasn't anything more than what I can get from anywhere else. In fact, on its own without the chutneys it was slightly bland, and the crepe part wasn't as crispy as I like it. It was also smaller -- but I was still full after. Again, the sambar was only a tiny little portion. Do the plantain and tomato chutney make it worth $5 more than anywhere else in the city? I'm not sure. At the same time, I realize that $14 isn't generally considered an expensive meal in this city, and for the presentation and quality it wouldn't stop me from going back and ordering the same thing. I often don't feel great after indian food, and felt fine after my meal last night.

            Maybe I would have liked to see them do something a little more special with the dosa itself, in the crepe or the filling, to really bring it to the next level. At Madras Masala, for example, they do a spinach dosa where they add pureed spinach to the crepe to give it a little extra something and its delicious. And I would have given up the plantain for more sambar. Also, while I enjoyed the plantain, I thought it was a bit strange to add more starch to an already starchy meal -- I would have rather had something green on my plate.

            All that said, this place is off to a great start. There were other people eating there who seemed to really enjoy their food. The service was fabulous. I am definitely interested in trying appetizers and other dishes. We have needed something like this on the danforth for ages. If they eventually open for lunch with prices being a few dollars less, I would definitely be inclined to go more frequently.

            Hope that helps! I look forward to hearing what the rest of you experience.

            -----
            Madras Masala
            Toronto ON, Toronto, ON , CA

            1. re: earthmomma

              14 bucks for a dosa! The ingredient cost must be a dollar or two. I think that's high no matter what the service and ambience is like.

              1. re: hal2010

                The service is OK, the ambience is non-existent, unless you think stained plywood walls from the70's or 80's adds ambience. I have a lot in my mind regarding yesterday's meal, but I'm not sure I want to report on it until I visit again, perhaps in a few months. I can say I was up at 4:00 pm feeling hungry, and by 6:00 am I had no choice but to get out of bed and eat breakfast. We ordered two appetisers and 2 mains, but Mrs fD pronounced hers boring, and didn't eat 80% of it. Mine was OK, but nothing special. Total cost with a bottle of wine, $93 and with tip, $107

                I couldn't help think of the various places I really enjoy that are in the same price range, or less. To be continued.... I have to go back to sleep now.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. Which dishes did you try?

                  1. re: earthmomma

                    We tried 2 apps:

                    - pan seared calamari in coriander lemon butter
                    This was cooked just right and tasted good, but I don't remember seeing any coriander in it and don't recall tasting any. But that's OK as it still tasted good. The main problem I had with this dish was it's size, or lack thereof.

                    - Breads and Spread:
                    this was fine, but again there is not much there. My wife ordered the Saag Paneer. She said one of the courses she had was like something a person working in the fields would eat, I am not sure if she was specifically referring to her app or main, but both could fall into that category. I couldn't help notice what a small amount of food she had in her plate. I'd get more feedback from my wife tonight.

                    I ordered the Crab and Kappa. (plantain)
                    I asked about this dish before ordering as I didn't feel like battling with the crab to extract the meat. I was told that the meat was mixed with the plantain, and there was also a crab leg there. When I got it, none of the shell was cut open. Arvind took it back to the kitchen and they bust of bashed on it with a hammer or nutcracker. Still not easy to extract any crab meat. I realised this was a really bad choice to have ordered. They really should have cut the legs along the edge as I do with kitchen shears, and then the meat can be removed easily. So here I was, eating plantain, paratha (bread) and a bit of crab meat. Not exactly a balanced meal.

                    This place may do OK (and honestly I hope it does) , just because it is different, but now I really have to go check out Copper Chimney, which is quite a drive away. It's hard to compare this restaurant with any others as none offer the same food, but when comparing what it costs with the atmosphere and what you get, I have a problem.
                    There is no way I should leave any restaurant after spending $100+ and feel like I did not have enough to eat. There are quite a few choices where I can eat for less (Makkah) or slightly more (Globe, Pan, etc) For the same price we spent, we could have had two apps each at Globe and not been hungry after.
                    And Arvind should know what the service level and ambiance at Globe or Earth is like, as I heard him say that he worked at Earth for some time. He's a nice friendly guy but you have to deliver the complete package if you are charging the complete package price, or at least close to it.

                    I try my best to say very little if I am not happy about a place as I realise that less than positive reveiews don't help a new restaurant. So take my feedback here with a tiny grain off salt, and I hope others that read this can go try it and make their own decision, it's quite possible that I'm the only one with this view and the rest of you may love it.

                    1. re: foodyDudey

                      I finished off the food my wife didn't eat last night for lunch. It was tasty and has almost no fat or grease of any kind. I think many people would like this type of food compared to the heavy, rich North Indian style. It just appears to be a small portion, but other than that, it's quite well done.

                      1. re: foodyDudey

                        Found him on twitter: http://twitter.com/Aravindresto

      2. James Chatto just reviewed it http://jameschatto.com/2010/12/aravind/

        4 Replies
        1. re: foodie179

          Chatto says the restaurant is "around Logan". He obviously doesn't come around the area often, he should have said it's between Carlaw and Pape.
          Notice his use of the words and phrases such as "miniaturized", "Dear little appetizers", "very small onion bhaji" etc. Why didn't he just say that it's quite possible you may leave and feel like it's now time to eat dinner ? But wait, I already did, or at least I thought I did.

          This restaurant is unique and with a few tweaks it could be popular but the portions are just too small, especiially the appetisers.

          1. re: foodyDudey

            Agreed. If they made their portions more reasonable for what they charge, I think they'll do great in this area. I don't need massive portions, but it is unfair to let people spend that much and walk away hungry. There is no way I would order the dosa trio with dosas the size of my finger when I can spend the same amount of money for a full dosa meal somewhere else. Right now, I might go there occasionally if I feel like splurging on a unique experience and not leaving the area. If they adjust the portions (or prices), I would go more often. Still, I wish them all the best.

            1. re: earthmomma

              Has anyone eaten here this year? It's odd that barely anyone has reviewed it other than eathmomma and myself.

              1. re: foodyDudey

                Went tonight, and it was delicious. Both of us felt like portions were more than adequate, so they may have adjusted since December. We had the mini-dosas as an appetizer -- three different fillings-- as well as lake trout pakoras, which were outstanding. For mains, a vegetable biryani that came with a crab leg. (They also provided a nutcracker with the crab leg so they've picked up on the problem mentioned by foodyDudey above). Pickled lime on the side as well as a fresh tomato, cucumber and onion salad with tons of coriander. Other main was the mushroom curry -- light, great depth of flavour, served with dhal, chickpeas, and a flaky type of bread. Service was great, it was delicious, and it's very close to home, so we'll definitely be back.

        2. I happened into this place. I ordered a small sampler of dosas, which were lovely--one with potato and onion, one with lentils, and one with eggplant. They were light and tasty.

          I highly recommend the local rainbow trout. It was cooked to perfection (crispy skin, tender flesh) and seasoned nicely. Unlike most Indian restaurants, you are served a plate with sides; nothing is a la carte. My portion was quite generous, and the service was friendly.

          I did not love the ambiance, but I thoroughly enjoyed the food and service. It was much nicer than some of the South Indian places on Gerrard. The food was much lighter than I expected, and very flavourful.

          They also do local, sustainable fish without beating you over the head. Nice albeit limited wine selection.

          1. Reviewed today by Joanna Kates.
            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/f...

            Synopsis: Very good food with a couple of misses, overpriced, amateur service.

            1. Finally tried Aravind this week.

              Overall, I really quite enjoyed my meal. People have mentioned small portion sizes, and while I agree the appetizers may be on the smaller side, I left perfectly full and happy.

              The trout pakoras were delicious-perfectly cooked, tender, with a delicious coconut/curry dipping sauce. Not sure if the trout was farmed, but they definitely did not have that "musty" farmed taste. The onion bhaji were nice and crispy with a hint of sourness, which contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the onion. They were served with 2 dipping sauces; a tamarind one (ok) and a delicious coriander sauce. We ended up ordering another round.

              For mains, we had the coconut/curry mussels served with some jasmine rice and beet salad. Good, but the mussels were slightly overcooked. The masala dosa was much better, with a gorgeous crispy light crepe exterior. The tomato chutney was excellent and addictive.

              We washed this down with lots of wine-Angels Gate Gewurtz. The wine list is small, with some decent Canadian producers, and honest markups.

              Service was warm, and professional. I would definitely return.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                I suppose they relaised the small portions coulds easily be made bigger without cuttting into the profit. We also want to go back and try it again, but I've been too busy trying out the new menu items at my favourite place on Danforth Ave.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  My SO and I don't cook Indian at home. We prefer eating out at places in Toronto that don't cook French/Contemporary NA cuisine as he does that extremely well. Have you tried Simba Grill on Donlands? Looking forward to that next. I also want to explore the Ethiopian places in the hood.

                2. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                  Thanks to your (and Prima's) comments on the 'Monday' thread, I checked this place out (It makes more sense to respond here).
                  VERY impressive (but only one visit-so far).
                  Indeed it is definitely more expensive than most 'Indian' places - but the ingredients and preparation are of a much higher standard.
                  MOST important of all is the spicing which is layered and complex. With fish as the main ingredient, the spicing is more subtle - entirely appropriate. And instead of the Basa and Tilapia used as cheap ingredients elsewhere, here you have crab and Arctic Char - dishes adapted to the local (sort of) availability. The daily special appetiser was smelt rolled in a spiced flour and deep fried to a crisp non-greasy addictive snack!

                  Only about 8 items on the main menu (and a similar number of appetizers) - each dish is prepared separately - in vivid contrast to the book-like menus at other places that clearly use the dreaded (for me) mother sauces, where multiple dishes use the same basic sauce modified with a couple of last minute spices.

                  Clearly a family operation, this is among the best Indian places in the city (for me). If it had tablecloths and finer decor the food would still fit perfectly, without changes - but the hard part will be getting people to spend $100 (for two) - with beverages/wine.

                  But if you go out for Crab and Arctic Char at a 'fish' restaurant - nobody would blanch at that price.
                  I will certainly be back - and soon.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    Glad you enjoyed it estu! I'm no expert in Keralean cuisine, but my SO and I have visited Aravind 3 times now, and have enjoyed all our meals.

                    1. re: estufarian

                      Happy to hear it was a good experience, estufarian!