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Handmade Chai in Toronto?

Bogberry Dec 11, 2010 06:12 AM

Wherever I travel, I like to try out the local chai. I'm not fond of chai in a box or made from a powder. Gimme something brewed up in a pot on the stove, the spices selected with pride!

I am visiting a friend in TO at the end of December/Early January, and I expect dining experiences to be a big part of things. My home base will be High Park, but am willing to travel for steaming mug of the brew!

One of two Chowhound recommendations that I found in a basic search was a mention for 3 Steps Up in Whitby, though I can't tell from the post if it is handmade. I am wondering if there's something a little closer that could be more of a daily trip.

Indian restaurants are always a good choice for a traditional version -- they're consistently solid & I love the cuisine anyway. (Utsav gets a Chowhound nod.)

But I am also looking for:

A tea or coffeehouse -- somewhere that's open in the early hours. (Though I will drink it anytime!)

Any unique varieties...

Thank you!

69 Yorkville Ave ( Near Bloor and Yonge ), Toronto, ON M5R1B8, CA

3 Steps Up
840 Brock St N, Whitby, ON L1N 9S8, CA

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    dory Dec 12, 2010 11:20 AM

    Do you enjoy Kashmiri pink chai? There are places in Little India (Gerrard St.) that prepare and serve it to takeout I'm not familiar with any restaurants that serve it but there must be some. It is delicious, especially at this time of year. Provided that you do not have a nut allergy!

    10 Replies
    1. re: dory
      Bogberry Dec 12, 2010 01:01 PM

      I've never had a Kashmiri pink chai, so this sounds exactly like what I am looking for!

      No known food allergies, fortunately. But that's a good mention, since nuts aren't a typical chai (as I know it) ingredient.

      And a bonus, since I do hope to travel the different neighborhoods. The diversity is TO is something I am definitely interested in... including the foods that go with!

      1. re: dory
        hal2010 Dec 12, 2010 01:50 PM

        At Lahore Tikka they bring a jug round sometimes when it's busy. Also available at a few stalls during the Festival of South Asia in August.

        1. re: hal2010
          Bogberry Dec 18, 2010 02:16 PM

          Thanks for the tip... Lahore Tikka looks like an interesting place overall.

          Lahore Tika
          1365 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L1Z3, CA

          1. re: Bogberry
            dannyeh Dec 19, 2010 03:22 AM

            Interesting and fun. You will probably find better Indian food, even in Little India, but it is kind of the 'landmark' place there. Nevertheless would be quite the daily trek from High Park for tea.

            1. re: dannyeh
              Bogberry Dec 21, 2010 02:26 AM

              You're right... since my to-sample foodie list has been growing, I doubt I will be making such a daily trek. My host & I will be doing lots of sightseeing, so variety will be our mainstay!

              I found a mention for Tampered Press, which might be a more local go-to... I'll be updating as (or after) I go!

              The Tampered Press
              256 Crawford St, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

            2. re: Bogberry
              ManAbout Dec 19, 2010 08:12 AM

              Don't eat at Lahore Tikka. The food there is disgusting. I have been going there for many, many years. The last time was the worst and I vowed never to go back. The chai might be ok, I dont recall.

              For just chai and samosas you can drop into Moti Mahal. They have been around a long time and are good at what they do, Indian style fast food. It's not the best chai ever, but it is probably as good as any you will find on Gerrard. They do serve it in a styrofoam cup though as does Lahore.

              If you are travelling to different neighbourhoods and are up in the Brampton area, you can check out Kwality, they have good North Indian food, again nothing fancy. But, beats the pants off Lahore and any place on Gerrard. The chai is pretty decent too.

              1. re: ManAbout
                hal2010 Dec 19, 2010 11:28 AM

                Where else can you eat in a series of trailers, joined together with plywood and duct tape? And the kitchen looks like something from Old Delhi.

                Anyone know what's up with that new building that's been under construction for quite a few years? They've opened up the washrooms, and one night last summer there were people dining in the new area, but it doesn't seem to be fully functional yet.

                1. re: hal2010
                  Bogberry Dec 21, 2010 02:38 AM


                  Which area are you referring to that has the series of trailers? I love experiences like that. I was surprised to discover that TO has limitations on street food.

                  Two of my favorite finds in Houston this year have been street crepes and New Orleans-style snoballs served from a trailer. And the crepe man just introduced me to watermelon water from a nearby taco truck...

                  1. re: Bogberry
                    hal2010 Dec 21, 2010 04:53 PM

                    Lahore Tikka is housed in a series of trailers. There's a big new restaurant next door that's never quite been finished.

                2. re: ManAbout
                  Bogberry Dec 21, 2010 02:44 AM


                  Thanks for the tips! getting details like "styrofoam service" is great.

                  I just mapped Brampton... I don't know that we'll be out that way. We're going to be heavy on the cultural sights, museums, etc. and probably one wilderness hike. But if there's anything off-the-beaten path worth doing or seeing that way, clue me in!

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