Tag Archives: toronto

Restaurant Diaries: Colaba Junction 

A couple of days ago, Dev and I decided to go out for dinner and try a new Mumbai street food restaurant in downtown Toronto. Colaba Junction is located at the corner of College St. and Bay St. It’s a fairly small restaurant with roughly 15-20 seats. The decor of the restaurant is fantastic and well designed. 

When we first arrived, I started looking at the menus hanging against the wall and immediately the cashier asked me to ignore those menus as those were the new menus and weren’t currently valid. 

He handed me a paper menu and told me to order from there. I started looking at the menu realizing it was slightly higher priced than the menu hanging above. So, I jokingly said to the cashier that had we come the next day, we’d probably save a bit of money since the new menu was lower priced. He said, “yeah but there’s nothing I can do about it.” Probably not the best first impression to give a customer that’s about to write a review about you. After that disappointing start, we still ordered tons of food and took a seat as we waiting for it to arrive. 

The arrival of the food was reassuring and had me extremely excited. The presentation was extraordinary and looked amazing. 

Dev ordered the Vegetable Thali and a vara pau and I ordered a Meat Thali. The thalis looked completely different than any of the thalis I’ve ever had before. There was ample food served that could easily feed at least two other people. 

However, the food wasn’t hot, it was lukewarm and by the time we got to our second naan, it was cold. I complained to the cashier that the temperature of the food was quite cold but he assured me that the food was fresh and because of the front door opening it may have gotten cold. 

I later went to order a paratha and noticed the “chef” or guy behind the counter take out a frozen paratha wrapped in plastic; the same way that you receive Shaana parathas from the grocery store. I immediately changed my order and asked for a naan instead hoping that it would be freshly made. Unfortunately, that too looked like a grocery store frozen naan. 

Disappointed and turned off from the frozen naan and paratha, I folded my napkin over my plate and decided to end my meal. 

The curries and gravies taste good aside from the cold temperature. But paying $49+ for two thalis and a vara pau just to receive frozen naan was extremely disappointing; that I didn’t even bother to finish my review of the meal.

Before leaving, I spoke to the cashier again and explained how disappointing it was to see their chef take out frozen naans and parathas from the freezer to serve us and he kind of just shrugged his shoulders as if that was normal. 

This restaurant could have been a big hit with its decor and food presentation, had the food actually been up to the standard it was expected at. Needless to say, we will not be visiting or recommending this place to anyone. 

Restaurant Diaries: The Great Maratha

Recently, in search for a good Indian restaurant, a friend of my husband’s suggested we visit a former colleague’s restaurant. We try to stay away from friend’s restaurants as we don’t want to dine for free or at a discount. But we’d heard so many good things about this restaurant and I was craving good Indian food, plus anxious to review a new restaurant before the year ended, we decided to visit The Great Maratha. It’s a decent sized restaurant near Eglinton Ave. West and Bathurst. Cozy enough to enjoy a nice meal with family or friends and competitively priced that it doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet. 

We started our meal with Onion bhajiya and the TGM Royal Platter; which came with a side of mint and tamarind chutney. The onion bhajiya was perfectly fried and crispy, as it should be. The Royal Platter consisted of beef seekh kabobs, achari tikka, mint tikka, fish tikka and tandoori vegetables. I found the beef seekh kabobs a bit bland and wanting more spice. But the other items were fantastic and well seasoned.

Our main course consisted of tandoori naan, roti, rice, goat curry and fish curry. The naans and roti were cooked to absolute perfection. Crispy and well-cooked and rice seasoned just enough to compliment the curries with overpowering the tastes.

In general, I am not a fan of fish curry as I have yet to try one that I absolutely love enough to have regularly. Disappointingly enough, this fish curry didn’t do the job either. It had a slight sweetness to it; which for me isn’t how fish should be in a Maharashtran restaurant. I’ve known their food to be more savoury and spicy. But I won’t completely skip this curry. It was well-made, the fish was perfectly cooked. I just there was more of a kick to it.


The goat curry was well seasoned and the chunks of goat just the right amount of tenderness. But again, like the fish curry this too needed a little more heat. 

Overall, the meal was satisfactory and flavourful enough to come back again when craving a good tandoori meal. For three adults and one child, the meal was competitively priced. 

I will definitely be visiting again. But next time may ask for the curries to be slightly spicier. 

Check out their website at: http://www.the-great-maratha.com

Address: 965 Eglinton Ave. West

Phone: (416) 787-1020

Restaurant Diaries: Nova Ristorante 

 

Nova Ristorante – 2272 Lawrence Ave. East, Scarborough, ON | 416.751.1200

A couple of weeks ago was mine and Dev’s 4 year wedding anniversary and he convinced me to go out for dinner to celebrate the occasion. Still battling vertigo, I was reluctant but he insisted and convinced me that we’ll finally get to try out the recently opened Nova Ristorante, I’ve been dying to try. Thankfully I agreed because it was such a delightful experience.  
Sweet Potato Fries and Spicy Mayonnaise
 

We began our evening with sweet potato fries served with a mildly spicy mayonnaise, Shrimp Fra Diavolo and a side of Italian bread. The fries were absolutely delicious and perfectly crispy, as fries should be. Shrimp Fra Diavolo was savoury and complimented the bread. Had it been slightly spicy, it would’ve been extraordinaire. But nonetheless, it was delicious!  

Shrimp Fra Diavolo – jumbo tiger shrimp in a tomato based chilli sauce
 

For the main course, I choose to try the Penne Areabiata. It was the perfect blend of ingredients, including penne tossed with a onion, tomato and red chillies sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan. It was one of the best pastas I’ve had in a really long time. The chicken was beautifully grilled and seasoned to perfection, while the tomato based sauces lingered on the tongue and really hit the spot. 

Penne Arrabiata – served with grilled chicken
 

Dev loves pesto and decided to order the Winter Pesto Ravioli. Sadly for him, the pesto was bland and watery. The ravioli was over-cooked and mushy. What a disappointment after all the great food we had just eaten. After adding tons of salt, pepper and Parmesan, it still failed to satisfy our tastebuds.  

Winter Pesto Ravioli – garlic and mashed potato ravioli in a parsely pesto sauce
 

Besides the Pesto Ravioli, our meal was delightful and the experience left me craving to come back again to try out the rest of the menu. Our waitress was helpful and informative and even offered to get Dev something else. But he insisted on trying to enjoy his ravioli. The restaurant’s casually, chic decor made for a perfect date-night and Dev and I have decided to come back and try it again. My overall rating for this new, little nook, 4/5!

Want to see more amazing pics of Nova Ristorante’s meals before visiting? Check out their Instagram page @novaristorante or visit their website at www.novaristorante.ca

For more pics of things I’m trying and what I’m up to, don’t forget to add us on Instagram (@ziddi) or follow me on Twitter (@zidditamana).

Restaurant Diaries: Esther’s Soup Kitchen

Located in Yorkville at the Cumberland Food Court, Esther’s Soup Kitchen is everything the name suggests and more! This little “food-court” nook is so big on taste. I’ve tried a couple of their items for lunch and am amazed by the quality of this cute little shop. The taste of their foods takes me back to India.

They’ve got a whole array of options on their menu, but I’ve fallen for their Madras Chicken Curry lunch combo. The combo comes with potato masala curry, chickpea curry, basmati rice, salad and the Madras Chicken Curry and it is to die for. It’s delicious and the taste is always consistence.

I had the Mulligatawny soup is to die for. My husband even said it was amazing how rich and flavourful it was and for under $10, you can’t go wrong with this hearty soup on a cold winter day.

I didn’t take any photos of my food. But I will next time and will update this post with them.

If you’re ever in Yorkville and need to grab a quick bite to eat, make sure to try Esther’s Soup Kitchen at 2 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M4W 3E2.

 

Restaurant Diaries: Curry Twist

You’re all aware that my father was a chef for the better part of his life. He owned one of the first Indian restaurants in Toronto and happily served the community for over 47 years. Since he retired back in 2012, Dev and I have tried to find a restaurant that cooks and serves the food similar to how my father used to. With over 1500 Indian restaurants in the GTA alone, it’s impossible to visit each one. But the many that I have visited has disappointed my taste buds. Until now!

A couple of weeks ago, my taste buds craved for something spicy and rich in flavour and what better cuisine  to satisfy that craving than Indian food. We reviewed many restaurants online and one little place, on the other side of the city had raving reviews, Curry Twist. We dropped in late on a Friday night, so it was quiet and parking was easy to find on the street. After being seated, I examined the restaurant. It wasn’t anything fancy. Small in width but a good size overall. The waiter was pleasant, however, too anxious to serve us than to indulge in small talk or answer many questions.

Chicken Seekh Kabob
Chicken Seekh Kabob

For our appetizer, we ordered seekh kabobs. OMG! My taste buds went crazy. The mixture of seekh kabobs, the spices that complimented this perfectly tandoori chunks of chicken just blew my taste buds away. Add the mint chutney to the mix and your taste buds will thank you. The chicken seekh kabobs were so good, that Dev and decided to order a second portion. Mind you, the first portion, as delicious as it was a small portion for two people to share.

Goan Fish Curry
Goan Fish Curry

For the main course, Dev couldn’t help resist ordering the Goan Fish Curry; fish curry is one of his favourite curries. I personally, don’t enjoy fish curry of any type. I’m just not a fish lover. But he was happily satisfied with the blend of coconut, spices and garlic sauce. He did find the curry slightly on the sweet side; which was disappointing, especially when a Goan Fish curry is generally assumed to be spicy. However, he didn’t complain too much as the fish was cooked perfectly.

Lamb Twist Masala
Lamb Twist Masala

I ordered Lamb Twist Masala Curry. Dev’s not much of a lamb-eater. So, I don’t cook it much at home, but love to enjoy it for dinner when eating out. This lamb curry was best lamb curry I’ve had since my father closed down his restaurant. It was made to perfection. Perfectly juicy pieces of lamb blended with a perfect concoction of spices in a tomato-based sauce. This curry took me back to the years and years of eating at my father’s restaurant. After one bite, I had to get up and go see the chef. I honestly believed the chef was a former chef from my father’s restaurant. He wasn’t. But I complimented him nonetheless.

Garlic Naan
Garlic Naan

We enjoyed our curries with garlic naan. They were so flaky, perfectly cooked and seasoned.

This little restaurant seriously has something going for it. As we were paying, I handed the waiter my card (for my blog), told him to stay tuned to a review and said, I almost NEVER visit an Indian restaurant twice. He asked why. I said, “I haven’t found one that reminds me of true Indian cooking.” Of course, his next question was, “will you be visiting us again?” I laughed, “you better believe it!”

That was one of the best Indian meals I’ve had in a really long time. The restaurant is situated on the other side of the city from where I live but absolutely worth the trip.

IMG_2081You have to try this place out. For $70, I promise you, you’re going to thank me!

Curry Twist
3034 Dundas St. West, Toronto M6P 1Z3
416-769-5460 | 647-74-TWIST (89478)

Restaurant Diaries: Aroma – The Myriad Of Exotic Spices

IMG_1170
287 King St. West, Toronto, Ontario

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.

Chicken Pakora
Chicken Pakora

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.

Chicken Madras - $12.95
Chicken Madras – $12.95

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.

Daal Makhani - $10.95
Daal Makhani – $10.95

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.

Garlic Naan - $3.95 each
Garlic Naan – $3.95 each

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.

Restaurant Diaries: Taste of Greek Cuisine

Taste of Greek Cuisine | 3541 St. Clair Ave. East, Toronto, ON | 416.283.9573
Taste of Greek Cuisine | 3541 St. Clair Ave. East, Toronto, ON | 416.283.9573

Firstly, I will apologize for the terrible photos. It was really dark outside and my iPhone was being a jerk. So these are the best shots I could get.

Taste of Greek Cuisine is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to, especially in Toronto. I’ve gone to this restaurant for many years when they were located at Kingston Road and Lawrence Avenue East in Scarborough. However, a year or so ago they moved locations. The new place took long to open and was in a shady plaza, so D and I never bothered to check it out. But after the terrible experience we had at Astoria (read about it here), I was adamant to find a new Greek restaurant that served proper Greek food, instead of the crap Astoria was serving.

Driving around last weekend, trying to figure out what we were going to have for dinner, I remembered that the step-daughter of the owner’s of Taste of Greek Cuisine had mentioned that they had reopened and the food was still delicious. So, I convinced D to check it out. The area is a bit shady and so is the plaza the restaurant is in and they’ve downsized a lot compared to the old place. But the interior is nicely done, the service is exceptional as always and the food was just amazing.

As we walked in, the owner automatically recognized us as past customers from his other location and greeted us smiling and cheerfully. He sat us at our table and brought garlic bread and our drinks. Yum! Their garlic bread is always a treat but completely fills you up even before your appetizers arrive, so I try to only take a small piece.

Garlic Bread
Garlic Bread

A long time ago, D and I realized that we could not share a saganaki. So, every time we went to this restaurant, we ordered 2 saganakis and one entree to share. You can’t just share a saganaki, especially when it’s your favourite appetizer.

Saganaki
Saganaki
Greek Salad
Greek Salad

And as always, the saganaki was fantastic! I just love the experience of the sizzling plate, the flambé and then the yelling of “Opa”! You truly cannot enjoy Greek food without the “Opa!”

Fish and Chip
Fish and Chip

We decided not to order souvlaki this time, as the bread, salad and saganki had already filled us up. Instead, we shared a plate of fish and chips. Yum-my! The fish was perfectly cooked, soft and flaky on the inside and deliciously seasoned and crispy on the out. The chips were lightly seasoned and complimented the fish perfectly. I wasn’t too fond of the tartar sauce; it was slightly on the sweet side and didn’t give that tangy flavour as it should. However, the meal was delicious; just the way you expect your meal to be.

For $60 (taxes and tip included), I think you can’t get better Greek food in this city than this! I’m so glad D and I overlooked the neighbourhood and decided to check this place out, again. They deliver as well, so if I don’t want to brave the neighbourhood or plaza again, I could order and enjoy the deliciousness in the convenience of my home and so could you!

Check out their website, HERE or drop-in and try this amazing little, family owned restaurant. I promise you, you and your tastebuds will not be disappointed!