D and I decided to have Indian food last weekend. Our restaurant of choice was Little India on Queen St. West, as the restaurant has over 4 star ratings on Yelp and DineT.O. To our disappointment, the restaurant was full with a line-up outside and waiting for at least 20-30 minutes. Instead of waiting in line, we decided to walk south to King St. West, where a few other Indian restaurants are located. Our secondary choice that we had read good reviews about was Aroma, so we decided to try it out.
As you know, I am extremely skeptical when it comes to Indian food; how could I not be? After all, my father did own one of the first Indian restaurants in Toronto and most of Ontario and maintained it for over 47 years. Plus, he taught me how to cook. So, being a chef’s daughter and married to a man who has proper chef training, we are tough at rating food and service in general and tougher when it comes to Indian food. However, do note that I always try to go in with an open mind to these Indian restaurants, I just have a slight biased opinion when judging whether it’s properly cooked Indian food or not.
AROMA – Let’s start by talking about the atmosphere; which was beautiful as you enter into the restaurant. Walk up a flight of stairs and you’ve got a nicely lit, open room with tables and decor tastefully selected to match the ambiance of the room.
We waited to be seated, but it seemed like none of the waiters wanted to attend to us. One sort of waved us to select a table to ourselves. But then another waiter came over and politely sat us down. 10 minutes later, we were finally offered menus and water was served. I was slightly disappointed at the service and I hadn’t been in the restaurant for more than 10 minutes; not a good sign.
We ordered the chicken pakoras as our appetizer. They looked fantastic and were reasonably priced ($8.95 for 6 pieces). The presentation was great and the taste would have been too had they actually seasoned the chicken pieces slightly more. The chicken was quite bland. But the mint chutney we requested with it complimented it well and added the heat that was lacking.
For our main course, we ordered Daal Makhani (lentil and kidney bean curry in a butter sauce), Chicken Madras (boneless chicken curry in a coconut based, spicy sauce), Sada Rice (plain rice) and Garlic Naan.
Overall, the food was good but it wasn’t anything amazing. I mean, it was prepared for a bland palette. As an Indian, I love my spices and not just the heat. If the food is properly seasoned, you don’t need the heat, as Indian food is a perfect blend of spices not just pepper.
Sadly, Aroma failed my expectations to bring that perfection to the plate. I won’t say that it was a bad restaurant to visit; it’s reasonably priced. However, if you are looking for authentic Indian cuisine, this isn’t the place. If you’re looking to have Indian food for the mere fact of having Indian food and cannot tell apart one dish to the next, this is a good place to start.
As for me, I might revisit Aroma when I don’t feel like cooking and D insists on having Indian food. But this will not be my go-to place to satisfy my spice cravings. I guess, my hunt continues for authentic Indian food.