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Chowfind? Shahi Tiffin- Pakistani-Danforth and Dawes

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Vinnie Vidimangi Feb 27, 2012 09:06 AM

Shahi Tiffin
2743 Danforth Ave
647 994 3786
Closed Monday

Sister restaurant
Shahi Karahi
3650 Lawrence Ave East East of Markham
416 431 8989
open 7 days .

So cheap and good that I don't know how Mcdaonalds stays in business.

Where I go regularly on Danforth closed early last (Sunday) night so I went across the street to Shai Tiffin. I was attracted by the sign, Chicken Biryani $2.99, or to be more accurate , the second part , $2.99. So I thought, what the heck, lets try. Notwithstanding that I don't like cooking from the sub-continent. War on a plate and between plates, and often overwhelmingly oily. I tell myself , this is the last time, and then I succumb a couple years later. The usual temptation is a sign that advertises a cheap AYCE buffet . I figure that I can pick my way around to good meal. Inevitably I am wrong. The question mark after Chowfind is because I obviously am no authority.

I had the chicken biryani, $2.99. A big portion of rice, the flavouring was complex and nice and above all else for me , the heat was so toned down that I could manage it. They said that they could increase it if I wanted it that way, I said no thanks! The chicken was a thigh and nicely cooked.

This dish was so good that I asked for the "weekend deal", 4 pieces chicken boti (small pieces from some bony part of the chicken, red ) 1 chicken kebab, 1 beef kebab and 1 freshly made naan. Everything was good. It was so tasty that with this dish I even ate the other half of the rice from the biryani , which I had intended to leave because there was so much of it and I am trying to lose weight.

I will return, and this is the first subcontinental place to which I will return, other than, forgotten name, P.K. Singh's place , with two words in the name, when it was on Albion Rd ( something Dhaba?) and before he moved to King street upstrairs to which I would take guests who were so inclined.

The menu for what I had says, take out only. I had the biryani in a take out container, but I ate at a table. The weekend deal came on an iron hot tray because they saw that I was eating at a table . There was no comment about my eating at a table, so I don't know what takeout only means.

VVM

  1. e
    elrik Feb 27, 2012 09:57 AM

    We have been going to Shahi Karahi for years and swear by the place. Nice people, great food and awesome prices. They have had a string of secondary sites that always seem to fail (warden and eglington, Kingston Road west of Liverpool in Pickering). Hopefully this one has more staying power for you. Take out only dishes means they won't give it to you on plates as at that price it's too cheap for them to want to do cleanup. If they get crowded they would probably ask you to leave but otherwise you would be safe eating the take-out only at a table as long as you don't ask them for tableware.
    Their karahis are amazing and you should definately try them sometime.

    1. v
      Vinnie Vidimangi Feb 27, 2012 06:28 PM

      It is Monday night and anyplace that I wanted to go to is closed so I went to Goddy's again for the first time since before the hype began. Better this time because they did a better job measuring out the industrial ingredients and flavourings that they put into their quite good basic ingredients but still disatisfying and unsatisfying. However , th eend result is the same net story , thi sbeing ,too much executive not enough chef. So I continued at the other Shahi, or now I understand Shahi home base, on Lawrenceand had two of their pizza-esque or better put laffa-like things, onion kulcha (stuff on top, $1.95) and beef keema nan (stuff in the middle, spread out , $3.00). I don't know anything about Pakistani cooking but I know a bit about bread and I can say that the best restaurant in town would have been proud to serve what I had and I therefore remove the question mark after Chowhound in the heading of this thread. The second bread thing that I had had a bit of a heat spike in it it at least for me and is making me not at peace with myself and consequently I have written this post and is making me write in runon sentences which I don't usually do.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
        hal2010 Feb 27, 2012 06:37 PM

        Uh oh. Shahi Tiffin is close to my office.

        Thanks for the tip! I've seen it and been curious but have never ventured in. Will report back.

      2. hal2010 Feb 28, 2012 10:15 AM

        I tried Shahi Tiffin for lunch today. Very, very good and I'd recommend it highly. I got the tandoori platter - a chicken kebab, beef kebab and 4 pieces of boti on biryani rice for $7. No grease, excellent spicing and really fragrant biryani.

        They have daily take-out specials ranging from $3 to 6 and they all seem like a great deal.

        The people there were charming and very helpful. They've are going to be adding some new items to the menu for the sit-down restaurant. They told me they had sort of neglected the place after opening but now they were back at it and would be promoting it and trying to build business over the coming months.

        I will return.

        1. p
          pakmode Feb 28, 2012 11:52 AM

          Vinnie - thanks for the tip. That area's knows as Little Bengal, because of the large Bangladeshi community nearby.

          I will be sure to try this place out in the next few days.

          I would recommend you try out Raby's - specifically one of their combo platters. For $7.50 you get 2 beef kabab skewers, alot of rice, some salad, chutneys and fresh naan.

          IMO the best Pakistani-comfort food I've found so far.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pakmode
            hal2010 Feb 28, 2012 07:50 PM

            Raby's is great. Amazing spices and depth of flavour. Not too greasy, and the fresh ginger and chilis in many dishes really brightens them up. My only complaint is the sweet ranch dressing they put on the salads in the combos. Next time I'll ask for raita instead.

          2. mariecollins Feb 29, 2012 07:00 AM

            I have been eyeing this place for a while too. I'll try and get over there in the next week and report back.

            12 Replies
            1. re: mariecollins
              mariecollins Mar 12, 2012 08:17 AM

              Tried it out on Friday and not as impressed as the rest. Biryani was nice - fluffy, not greasy. Dahl was oily and the lentils were undercooked. Channa curry was too oily also, but tastier. Keema nan was OK, again too oily and salty. Chicken Boti just tasted odd, a little off even. I probably won't go back again.

              1. re: mariecollins
                p
                pakmode Mar 12, 2012 01:30 PM

                Lol, My Mother taught me that if I have nothing nice to say, then it's better to say nothing at all.

                Sure enough, I tried this out last Wednesday. Wanted to post, but bit my tongue and said I would only post if this thread came up again.

                Was bitterly disappointed in this place. The rice was okay, but not good. The kabobs were fatty, and after a few minutes of sitting around they became tough and chewy. The chicken boti was well marinated and juicy, but I would not go back for it. It did taste a bit weird and off-putting as mariecollins mentioned. The naan also became dry and hard after a few minutes of sitting around.

                I would have rather gone down to Makkah Restaurant on Donlands/Danforth. But I still stand by Raby's as my choice for best Indo-Pak Comfort Food in the city.

                This was the first time I ever left most of my food on the plate. Didn't finish it, didn't take it to go.

                I felt 'dirty' after, so crossed the street to Bistro Camino for dessert to cleanse my palate. Chef Hiro's Japanese fried ice cream is still fantastic as ever. Beautiful tempura batter and well composed berry compote were the highlight of the night. The restaurant was completely empty though. Sad because we need to ensure he stays afloat.

                1. re: pakmode
                  v
                  Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 12, 2012 02:11 PM

                  Since my opening post, I went a few times , both locations. Quality varied widely and I had better luck on Lawrence. Once, everything had far too much salt, another time , no complexity , just heat. Keema nan was annointed without my request. Didn't have a fat problem. Lucky somewhere.

                  They gotta do something to maintain consistency.

                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                    hal2010 Mar 12, 2012 06:23 PM

                    Ha ha! The plot thickens! I went back for a second visit, and was working on the "If you don't have anything nice.." policy, but what the hell. The channa masala was one of the worst I can remember - had about 1/2" of oil on top and that overpoweringly bitter taste you get from too much turmeric. Two bites and it was in the garbage. The chicken tikka roll was a soggy mess with more green peppers in it than anything.

                    1. re: hal2010
                      v
                      Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 12, 2012 08:29 PM

                      Hal 2010, No plot . Just enormous inconsistency. To add . My chana may have been good, but that it had far too much salt in it. Pakmode, Ah, so you two were the ones who came in for dessert! Great minds think alike so I followed your lead and went to Raby's tonight.. Solved the Lebanese- Mexican- Thai -Italian conundrum which ahd put me off before. They serve one or two simple items from the cuisine and that's it. So Lebanese means chicken shawarmara served different ways . You could make a cheese sandwich in Wonderbread with the salads. There was hummus, but it did not look inviting, at least not me. Anyone with some food sense, who wants to be honest with the customers, has some cooking experience and has turnover can do Raby's "international cuisine" to a decent standard. And the owner has all of that. Most of the dishes are "sub-continental". I had a biryani and beef kebab in a nan. I thought that the food was wholesome good grub , but nothing to make me want to return quickly. Shahi, however, when is it on, is special (I think). And when it is screwed up, as it is too often (I know), no one wants to return. I will return to Lawrence for the breads and to Danforth for the chicken biryani, the latter a good speculation at $2.99.

                      You all. I am sorry. At least it was cheap.

                      -----
                      Raby's
                      66 Overlea Blvd, Toronto, ON M4H 1C5, CA

                      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                        mariecollins Mar 13, 2012 06:31 AM

                        No worries, I was going to try it eventually. What about the Carribean Fusion place up the street?

                        1. re: mariecollins
                          v
                          Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 13, 2012 07:51 AM

                          Don't know that one at all and if it is Jamaican, my few experiences with this kind cooking were not inspiring. I have better luck with the French influenced islands. I do heartily recommend the other one across the street. Put yourself in the chef's hands.

                          1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                            mariecollins Mar 14, 2012 06:39 AM

                            I think it may be Chinese Guyanese. I love BC, it's just that I tend to get take-out in the area.

                        2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                          p
                          pakmode Mar 13, 2012 11:07 AM

                          Vinnie,

                          I have always respected your reviews and will continue to do so.

                          Shahi definitely sounds inconsistent. A huge problem with Pakistani restaurants.

                          I actually went last Tuesday, not Wednesday, and when we went to Bistro Camino there was NOBODY there. So unless you own Bistro Camino, I don't think we've met before lol.

                          In terms of Raby's the menu is a disaster. That's why it's best to stick to the South Asian stuff. Specifically their combo platters and/or curries.

                          All their chicken tikkas are excellent. The bihari, seekh and chicken kababs are fantastic. Their plain yakhni pilau rice is awesome - biryani rice is lacklustre.

                          For curries the chicken tikka masala is great as is the mutton curry.

                          1. re: pakmode
                            v
                            Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 13, 2012 07:22 PM

                            I just go there fairly often for a good meal at a reasonable price. Also the waitress (the daughter) is really cute. If you were the couple who had been there before for Valentine's Day, it was you and you didn't notice me on the other side of the screen.

                            Look at that! We agree on the biryani rice at Raby's! I respect your opinion and bask in its glow. I chose it because I thought that this dish would be the test. Nowhere to hide.

                            I think that one reason that Raby's menu is eclectic is that the owner (?) had cooked for many years at Branksome Hall. He learned to cook out of his culture, and just kept going. The menu looks like ethnic night at the "English" club.

                            I think that there is business intelligence in his selection of menu items.

                            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                              s
                              szw Mar 13, 2012 08:22 PM

                              Like BC a lot but don't live around there anymore. Never saw the daughter. Will make a point to go back!

                              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                                p
                                pakmode Mar 14, 2012 10:39 AM

                                Vinnie, That was us. Unfortunately I didn't see you, but next time we will definitely have to dine together! We seem to share similar tastes.

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