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Where's the best Indian/Pakistani food in Toronto?

Coming up to spend the weekend with my son, The only Indian place I know is about a block away from the intersection of Bloor and Avenue - IMHO it is OK but erratic, I'm not afraid of spices. I don't believe that every dish has to have meat (probably chicken in it) and I am less than enamored with Tandoori. I believe there are some amazing veggie Gujerati dishes and some powerful spicy Kerala inspired dishes and Pakistan holds its end up with Nihari and the like. So wher is the real deal. BTW I LOVE Biryani - IF it is a REAL slow cooked Biryani.

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  1. Probably the best right now is Copper Chimney (Avenue Road south of 401) - BUT my last 2 visits weren't as exciting as my previous 3 - something's not quite right just now. I'm speculating on a chef change recently, but it was easily the best until about 2 months ago.
    Best dish last visit was the lamb shank - but not as spicy as it once was. Previous visits had an excellent chicken pasanda - but didn't try it this time.

    The sad thing is that most "Indian" places in Toronto try and hit a price point so downscale ingredients and bulk up with rice. Again, blame the recession.
    Possibly worth a try is the Amaya mini-chain. I don't think it 'Indian' - more fusion using Indian spices, but at least it's something a bit different. But not my cup of chai.

    13 Replies
    1. re: estufarian

      If you're staying near Bloor St. and Avenue Rd., then getting to Copper Chimney might be a bit of a shlep - but not so bad if you know someone with a car who knows how to navigate Toronto's pop-up road repair season. Estufarian is right to recommend Copper Chimney, but unlike him, I haven't noticed a dip in the quality there. Copper Chimney opened with a rush last year, with almost universal praise for the flair and intensity of its tastes, but first love with restos tends to cool down after the first year or so. It may not be still rapturously thrilling, but it's still superior to the competition. Just don't be shy about informing your server that you're not afraid of spices - I think they're gunshy from sissy diners who tell them their dishes are too, too spicy. I usually gravitate to the vegetarian dishes, though I'm not vegetarian, but I've had some solid lamb and chicken offerings. Easy-to-take prices.

      A short drive from Copper Chimney is the more stylish Amaya Bread Bar, on Yonge St. between Lawrence Ave. and York Mills Rd., also mentioned by estufarian, which I find is a good backup to Copper Chimney. He's right to characterize it as Indian-fusion, but the food is fresh and light and tasty, if slightly more expensive. Well-appointed room, too.

      Slow-cooked biryani? Ask Copper Chimney how slow-cooked their biryani is - I've never ordered it - and if you like their answer, well, there you are. I've had biryani at some of the basic joints in the Indian/Pakistini neighborhoods, and to me it was just a lot of rice with teensy bits of things in it that were actually worth eating. Slow-cooked, fast-cooked, I didn't care - in my view, it wasn't up to much.

      1. re: juno

        Thanks to all for all the suggestions. I'll probably try copper chimney. Your comments on biryani suggest that you've never had a properly cooked biryani - not surprising since so few restaurants bother to cook it for a whole day. Properly done it is wonderful and a nice contrast to the hot spice kick of other dishes that I love. Sadly, about the only time I get a proper biryani is if I cook it myself.

        1. re: kagemusha49

          agreed. truly slow cooked rice is my favorite dish on the planet

          1. re: shekamoo

            Lahore Tikka House, hands down imho.

            1. re: callitasicit

              Lahore Tikka does great kebabs and it's an interesting place. I find their curries to be really greasy.

              For South Indian, Maroli is good and it has arguably the best butter chicken in Toronto. It's on Bloor west of Bathurst. I think of Amaya as Indian food for people who don't really like Indian food. Some of their traditional dishes are good but the fusion stuff like duck and tandoori tenderloin doesn't do much for me.

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              Maroli
              630 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

              Amaya
              1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

              1. re: callitasicit

                +1 for Lahore Tikka. Authentic and inexpensive shady area though.

                1. re: callitasicit

                  IMO One of the worst in Toronto. Generic sauces and more expensive than the downtown places.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    Are you referring to Lahore Tikka House? I think they have the best lamb curry and kebobs in Toronto.

                    1. re: callitasicit

                      which curry - it's like saying who has the best pie in Toronto?
                      Kebobs!!!!!!!!!!!!! - again exactly where does this fit in Pakistani cuisine? That's just meat on a stick - what meat, what sauces, what marinades - etc etc etc.

                      I absolutely respect that you like the food there - can't argue with taste and preferences.
                      But the OP clearly understands that that sub-continents cuisine is one of the great cuisine's of the world. And was looking for excellent examples of that cuisine.

                      1. re: estufarian

                        I had lahore tikka recently and thought it was wayyyyyyyy overrated. Everything was beyond oily and not done with a whole lot of finesse.

                        Went to copper chimney about 2 months ago and it was fantastic. 10x more memorable than lahore tikka house. Easily.

                        1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                          Well Lahore Tikka is more authentic style and doesn't cater much to the western palate. I mean we are talking about something that's close to a hole in the wall kind of joint in the sub continent. Don't expect finesse rather expect something that caters to the mass market i.e. oily as hell and they use spice to cover the barely par ingredients.

                          1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                            Really? What dishes were so memorable there?

                          2. re: estufarian

                            Kebabs (with an 'a') are a very common Pakistani grilled meat dish. You will find various incarnations of them at any Pakistani or North Indian restaurant.

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan...

            2. banjara for north indian or madras masala for south indian - same owners and both next to each other, just to the west of christie pits (on bloor, west of christie)

              1 Reply
              1. re: helenhelen

                I'm a big fan of the Hyderabadi dum biryani at Madras Masala, although it has not been as good the last few times I've been.

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                Madras Masala
                Toronto ON, Toronto, ON , CA

              2. Jaipur Grille is, to my mind, the best Indian in Toronto.
                For Gujarati veggie dishes, I believe Simba Grill does a Sunday special, but I haven't been.

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                Simba Grill
                375 Donlands Ave, Toronto, ON M4J3S2, CA

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

                1 Reply
                1. re: garfield

                  I'd 2nd Jaipur Grille. I've tried Amaya that's also In that neighbourhood, but I find their menu just too precious. I prefer the moderately upscale family style of Jaipur.

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                  Amaya
                  1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

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

                2. Amaya is my favorite Indian place so far in Toronto. Everything was delicious.

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                  Amaya
                  1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                  1 Reply
                  1. Some nice guidance here, as well as enough contention to give you a flavour of how opinions are developed here. My own 2 cents, subject to the exchange rate:

                    Banjara - Very nice, good solid flavouring, with the room on Bloor having more of a busy vibe.
                    Debu - Table cloths, very good and formal service, and many dishes which go pretty far down the road of fusion-y. But his biryani's are second to none. Can be pricey, though there is a 25$ prix fixe for dinner. 15$ by cab from downtown.
                    Anjappar Chettinad - It's a drive, maybe 20 minutes from downtown, and has some of the best Indian food I've ever had. It's not edited for the pale, the spicing is very good.
                    Amaya - Of their two places, Amaya is more fusion-y, which can make it hit and miss. Bread Bar has less of a wannabe vibe, and slants to more sharing food.
                    Copper Chimey - I haven't mentioned it because I haven't tried it. I only use my own opinions.

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

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

                    Amaya
                    1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Snarf

                      Beau and I were going to hit up Anjappar Chettinad on the way back from the zoo, but found ourselves smelling too much of shark tank. Still planning on going and maybe next time not getting so up close and personal with the stingrays. What do you recommend there? We're both adventurous, have no fear of heat, no allergies, and virtually no 'won't eats'.

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

                      1. re: Googs

                        Stay away from the buffet and try the menu items. Seafood especially sings with their cooking, though the crab will get your hands dirty. They also make more of an effort with the various breads, including dosa and uttapam. Enjoy!

                        1. re: Snarf

                          Last time I was there I found the spicing VERY HOT - not a problem for me, except I prefer more layering of spices - if it's just HOT then I think the dish potentially suffers. In particular I did have the crab - and that was the problem - just 'hot' not spicy. Accordingly I'd be careful with the crab dish - when I've had it before it seemed more palatable (to me) with a lesser heat content.