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Ba-Li Laffa is pretty good. Bathurst , north of Steeles

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Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 22, 2012 07:40 PM

Ba- Li Laffa
7117 Bathurst St
905 597 7720
Kosher
Salads, hummus, kebob, shawarma, falafel and so on.

I wanted to see what the place was like so I asked for a " salad" combo plate. They didn't have such a thing so they gave me the falafel plate, held the falafel and gave me more salads of my choosing ,and a laffa. Incidentally, the falafel plate also isn't on the menu; the menu is authentic Israeli.

I thought that the salads were pleasant , although they lacked the eye opening "wowie " that comes with the best salads in Israel. Here, flavour notes were rounded off or left out, there was an aversion to vinegar and lemon; a bit mangiakiked. The weakest salad was the Turkish, which was tomato paste muck, and the strongest were the chickpea salad "amuse bouche" and the hummus. A consistent hand was in the salads. . Honest effort here: for e.g. the beets in the beetrooot salad were baked.The laffa was much better than its competitor's.

I would gladly go back here, even though it makes me yearn for Zion.

A bit pricey, but they are kosher and there are all kinds of costs associated with this.

The owner is Iraqui, but I didn't see anything Iraqui about the food except for the amba (I have had worse, I have had better), and a couple items.
Lev Hamidinah Eli Cohen music policy.

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  1. Davwud RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 23, 2012 04:30 AM

    Have you been to Dr. Laffa?? It's sorta behind the Loblaws at Dufferin and Steeles. I've been once so far and was pretty impressed. Had a turkey shawarma (basted with lamb fat) on laffa. Very tasty.

    Incidentally, Sasi's (at Dr. Laffa) family are originally from Iraq but immigrated to Jerusalem. Then on to Canada.

    DT

    9 Replies
    1. re: Davwud
      a
      acd123 RE: Davwud Aug 23, 2012 05:22 AM

      Please, don't get VVM sgtarted about Dr. Laffa. He liked them and now he hates them. I agree that they've gone a bit downhill since they moved from their (much cooler) industrial loading dock location across the street in the

      1. re: acd123
        Davwud RE: acd123 Aug 23, 2012 05:31 AM

        I feel like Penny accidentally opening a can of worms by questioning Sheldon.

        Sorry.

        DT

        1. re: Davwud
          j
          juno RE: Davwud Aug 23, 2012 07:09 AM

          You have damned Bi-La Laffa - a recent Dr. Laffa copycat - with faint praise, Vinnie. Doesn't seem as if the food there has much zing. I may stumble in if I'm in the neighbourhood, but for the nonce I'm quite satisfied with Dr. Laffa. Agreed, Dr. Laffa is not as good as when it opened about a year or so ago on a loading dock across the street from its present more-posh premises - but if you pick and choose carefully (soups aren't much, some of the salads are duds, but the sandwiches on a laffa are tasty), you'll do well there if you don't cast your mind back to what used to be. Better for lunch than at dinner, when they trot out some comparatively expensive offerings of average tastiness. Formerly chaotic service has improved somewhat.

          1. re: juno
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            Vinnie Vidimangi RE: juno Aug 23, 2012 07:40 AM

            It's not Saraya in Acre , which is Michelin crossed knife and forks standard but can be expensive particularly if they take you on as a stupid American, or Angus in Haifa, which is good bistro standard, where I get an excellent 20 item veg meal with the best laffa that I have had for $5- includes tea and baklava! - and no oportunistic pricing.

            But we are iin Toronto. and for Toronto the salads at Ba-Li are good- I haven't had anything better- and the cooking is honest. This is a commendation, not damnation with faint praise.

            The best Arabic cooking that I have had in Toronto is at Al Tanoor, Lawrence between Vic Park and Warden. The shawarma is is head and shoulders above anyone else's, the kebob is superb and the pastries are simply divine -(but you have to get them the day that they are made to reach ecstasy.)

            Ask for a slice of preserved lemon in thw chicken shawarma.

            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
              Davwud RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 23, 2012 08:34 AM

              I disagree on the shawarma so far. I still think Nasib's is the best I've had.

              I have a definite problem with AT though. It's about a 15 - 20 minute drive there for me at lunch. I've made the trek 3 times. Twice I found the place closed after the scheduled opening time. The third, they were sorta open. They'd had a power failure and were late. Things happen, I understand.
              However, the first time they didn't open on time because it was Ramadan. Okay, I'll forgive. Yesterday there really shouldn't be any excuse. Ramadan is over and don't tell me you had another power failure. 11:10 and they were just bringing the produce order in from the front stoop.
              Considering I have to drive by the place I think it better anyway it may be a while before I go back.

              DT

              1. re: Davwud
                v
                Vinnie Vidimangi RE: Davwud Aug 23, 2012 09:53 AM

                I understand that the owner was a jazz musician in Iraq. It probably was a surprise that that in Canada there is some 11 o'clock other than 11pm , and is having trouble coping with this new hour.

                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                  Davwud RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 23, 2012 10:01 AM

                  It's family run. There was at least 3 of them there when I did get in. You'd think one of them could make it.
                  Also, they open much earlier than 11am since they're baking bread on site.

                  DT

                  1. re: Davwud
                    p
                    pakmode RE: Davwud Aug 24, 2012 09:52 AM

                    Yea, it's a strange operation. But give it another shot later in the day if you can. My favourite is still Shawarma Empire, with Al Tanoor a close second.

                    I ordered takeout for an Ifthar Dinner last week - and the kid was generous with the servings. The falafel plate was supposed to be 5 pieces, but he packed in at least double that, and they were fresh from the fryer.

                    They need to learn efficiency though.

                    1. re: pakmode
                      Davwud RE: pakmode Aug 24, 2012 10:31 AM

                      Later in the day isn't much of an option. Breakfast is at 6am and snack around 9am. That leaves lunch somewhere 11 - 12. I like to eat about 11 though.
                      I'll probably go back. Just in no hurry. If you can't make your posted hours, change them. It's really not all that hard.

                      DT

    2. c
      critical_mass RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Jan 13, 2013 06:37 PM

      Went there tonight for the first time. Overall, was quite impressed with the food, not so much with the service or ambience.

      I started with an Israeli salad. It was a very good portion, good flavour but nothing special. Then, I had the shish kabob on laffa. It was great. The laffa itself was very nice and the shish kabob had great flavour and it was packed with lots of fresh toppings. Good portion size left me pretty full and I thought the price was reasonable.

      However, the place was absolutely packed, tables and chairs so close together, incredibly loud and it took forever to get our food and then another long wait to get the bill.

      I'd go back, but at a less busy time

      1. j
        juno RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Apr 13, 2013 01:27 PM

        Given his track record on this board, the OP knows his Middle East nosh quite well. So with his eight-month-old review of Ba-Li above in mind, I tippy-toed into this Dr. Laffa copycat resto a few nights ago - and found it not nearly as good as Toronto's original laffa house. It was certainly serviceable, as the noisy full house attested. But Dr. Laffa, to my mind, beats it by a wide margin in almost every category. For comparison's sake, I ordered exactly the same items as I'd had at Dr. Laffa a few weeks previously. Dr Laffa's soups are more flavourful (a big improvement from its early days), its hummus had more fresh and tasty zing, its sabich sandwich in a laffa much, much zestier. My friend, an Israeli, also didn't find the food up to much (mind, he doesn't care for Dr. Laffa either, crank that he is), but then, Israelis are always moaning about how many light years better (and cheaper) the nosh is in Tel Aviv - and they're probably right. Though Ba-Li's menu insists its laffas are freshly baked, it certainly didn't taste like it. Dr. Laffa, with its dedicated laffa oven, does it infinitely better. Still, my friend and I sampled just the first part of the menu -soups, salads, starters, sandwiches and such. Most of the other tables were digging into the main course entrees, and seemed to be enjoying them. Lame French fries, though. Service was overwhelmed by the crowd, unlike Dr. Laffa, where staffing levels - and food quality - have improved over the past six months. Menu and prices are pretty much the same at both places, with Ba-Li a buck or two less for some dishes. Up against Dr. Laffa, the only thing Ba-Li has going for it, in my view: a licence. Though I'd give it another try sometime, when Dr. Laffa is mobbed, as it invariably is nowadays. It's only a 10-minute drive away from Dr. Laffa.

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