Showing posts with label rice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rice. Show all posts

The Copper Chimney (Toronto) for delivery


Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

On walks around the neighbourhood, we’ve seen The Copper Chimney on many occasions. It’s an Indian restaurant I vaguely recall reading about in the Toronto Star, when Amy Pataki noted it’s an above average choice in Toronto.

“One day we’ll try it.” I’ve always thought, and that one day finally came following a dinner elsewhere in the neighbourhood. As we were walking towards the patio of that restaurant, the air was filled with the most heavenly aroma of spices. We remembered that intoxicating smell and ordered delivery the very next day.

Fried appetizers like the mixed vegetable pakora ($5.50) are terrible for delivery. Pakoras I’ve had in the past have been fluffy fritters studded with shredded vegetables, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Copper Chimney’s are dry like food court falafel that have been left on the warmer all day. It’s such a shame, as I can see the large pieces of onions and carrots in the batter. It’s just so overdone (or perhaps fried during lunch and merely re-heated for dinner) that I had to wash it down with a drink.

To lower food waste, I salvaged the pakoras for brunch. Similar to making pot stickers, I put a cold pakora into a heated frying pan with some oil and water. Place a lid on it to allow the water to steam into the pakora and when the patty gets hot, remove the lid allowing the remaining water to evaporate and a crust to develop on the pakora again.

While it’s still a little dry, the finished patty is a lot better than before. In fact, I could decipher other vegetables used in the recipe: cauliflower, eggplant, and bits of a root vegetable. The individual spices also shine through more. If only the pakoras were fluffier and less cooked, I could see these being amazing.

Another overcooked dish was the lucknowi reshmi kebab ($14). Maybe tandoori is something that must be eaten at the restaurant, as Pataki’s review mentioned it being moist and delicious. What arrived at our house was covered in a tasty spice mixture (like a slightly spicy saffron), but so dry that it’s like eating cubes of chicken breast that has been reheated in a microwave and then cooled down again. Another gulp of drink to get this down.

The best part of the dish was the creamed coriander and mint chutney dipping sauce. It’s such a great refreshing bright yoghurt sauce that I tried it with everything in the meal. If you don’t get the kebab, it’s even worth ordering the condiment solely to put on other items.

Finally, the meal improved when I turned my attention to the saag paneer ($12), the spinach and onion puree so fresh and vibrant tasting, unlike so many other places where it’s rendered to a dark mush. Large cubes of soft Indian cheese are mixed throughout, these were thankfully left neutral and remained moist.

The saag goes wonderfully with basmati rice ($4) or garlic naan ($3.50), both sides arrive in huge portions (the naan two times larger than ones found in other restaurants). I just wished we ordered more curries to go with the grains.

Instead, I had to try their shrimp biryani ($17) and wasn’t disappointed. Despite it looking like another order of basmati when we opened the lid, get through the first layer and you’re greeted with a lovely fragrant rice that’s filled with flavours and a kick of heat that had me reaching for the raita. Here the shrimp were cooked nicely, still plump and tender despite trying this dish last.

In the end, I debated what mark to give The Copper Chimney as how well the dishes were prepared is so drastically different. If I had skipped the pakora and kebab and stuck with saucy curries, the experience would have been much better.

During this time where some restaurants are solely relying on takeout and delivery, I suggest trimming down menus to only include dishes that travel well. Not only will it simplify operations, but also ensures what makes it into a customer’s home are quality items you want associated with your restaurant. Stale pakoras and chicken jerky? Probably not something The Copper Chimney wants on their menu.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2050 Avenue Road
 Delivery: Uber and Doordash
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 -  wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!


Is That It? I Want More!

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CLOSED: Taste of Uzbekistan (Toronto)


Uzbekistan, a country part of the former Soviet Republic, is no major tourist destination even though it was formerly a stop along the Spice Route. It’s a cuisine that many Torontonians would have never tasted until Djovikhon Buzrukov opened Taj Restaurant in a North York strip mall.

With its success, a second location dubbed Taste of Uzbekistan has now opened in the Yonge Lawrence Village. A larger space, the signage has a palatial quality to it and makes it feel like you’re about to get a taste of royalty.

So, it seemed off brand when a humble plate of babaghanoush ($8.99) was presented with a side of tandoori non in a plastic diner basket. Where the starter lacked in presentation, it’s made up in taste: eggplant grilled lightly and seasoned with lemon juice and oil. So simple, yet when produce is fresh all you should taste is the lovely creamy eggplant.


The bread, made in-house in a clay tandoori oven, could be toasted a bit less as the thinner middle portion became hard and cracker like, while the thicker ring stayed in the softer doughy form. Who knows, maybe this is how it’s meant to be made offering two textures, but it’s the softly toasted part that went so well with the babaghanoush.  

How dishes are presented seems to indicate items are meant to be shared. Each arrives as soon as they’re done, so if guests order their own main, there could be a significant lag until the entire order arrives.

A dish they recommend highly is the plov ($15.99), a traditional Uzbek dish that’s typically prepared on special gatherings. It’s touted on the sign outdoors, on their menu, and even when you ask them for their advice. Certainly, it’s a comforting plate that I could imagine an Uzbekistan family gathering on a weekend to enjoy.


Rice is cooked with onion, carrot, raisins, and cumin so it gets a lovely colour and aroma. Thankfully, the raisins are used sparingly so that it doesn’t sweeten the rice, merely creating moisture in the dish. Chunks of tender lamb are strewn throughout adding an oily richness to everything else. As I tucked into forkfuls of the rice, thoughts of biryani came to mind, but in a mild form. The side of achichuk salad compliments the plov, the fresh tomato and crunchy cucumbers giving the dish a fresh cleansing element.

Conversely, the overdone kazan kebab ($19.99) was forgettable, the lamb lacking moisture or flavour. In fact, the best part of plate was the salty sliced potatoes cooked in a cast iron pan so that it fries at the edges creating a crispy scallop potato like side without the heavy cream, cheese, and butter.



Taste of Uzbekistan’s service isn’t bad, but is a tad off. Before I could even sit down, our waiter asks for a drink order, so I quickly respond water until I have a chance to settle. Yet, you come to realize there’s no beverage menu so wait around until one is produced. 


The only saving grace are the generous wine pours; the glass arrives filled to the brim. And with enough wine, for me, everything gets better.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3249 Yonge Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Selam Vegan Restaurant (Toronto)


Walk too quickly and you’ll like breeze by Selam as it occupies the basement of Pero restaurant. The only telltale sign of their shared space is their small signage by the door. Like its sister restaurant, Selam offers Ethiopian cuisine, except their menu is entirely vegan and most things are also gluten free, which makes the restaurant an excellent choice for dining with a group with varying dietary restrictions.

Although there are options to build your own platter, with larger groups, sharing family style is a fresher alternative. Amongst our table of six people, we shared seven items are were stuffed. As a lover of split pea soup, Selam’s version of the main was thicker ($10) and oh so hearty. Enhanced with a bit of curry and turmeric, the spices were lightly added more for colour and a depth in flavour.


For a bit of heat, the spicy eggplant ($10) and red lentil ($12) were both great choices – the latter having the most kick. Maybe it’s me, but I always love a good stewed eggplant, especially when it gets nice and soft and soaks in all the fragrant spices. It just goes so well with the injera ($3 for three pieces) as the sauce gets trapped in the spongy crevices or spooned over plain white rice ($3).


For something interesting, try the flax firfir ($10), which mixes flax seed with gluten free injera to form a dish that’s not saucy but rather eats like a savoury bread pudding. It’s an acquired taste - our table was split on its tastiness.  


With all the heavier stews, orders of the kale ($10) with garlic and ginger and okra ($12) with green onions and chili flakes were perfect to help add some crunch and freshness to an otherwise hearty meal. Selam’s kale is definitely not boring and chopped so finely that you can mix it into some of the saucier dishes to change the texture.


You definitely need a bunch of choices to keep the meal interesting. Rest assured, with smaller tables, Selam offers combination plates mixing 3 or 4 items or there’s also a $18 buffet, which has almost all the items from the menu.


While Selam’s food was tasty, the basement jazz club atmosphere was a bit strange. Moreover, while I understand their desire to showcase Ethiopian coffee, as the roasting beans were brought around, the low ceiling dining room filled with smoke and a nauseatingly strong smell of frankincense.  It’s a smell that just sticks and lingers, detracting from the otherwise delicious meal. In my opinion, skip the beans, and bring on the eggplant.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 812 Bloor Street West (basement)

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Ancila's Indian Cuisine (Mississauga)


Dining at Ancila’s Indian Cuisine is sort of cryptic, so you'll just have to roll with it. Starting with the reservations: the restaurant accepts them, but I’m told to make sure to cancel, if necessary, as they won't take another reservation for that time. This led me to believe that the dining room is tiny, when in reality it’s a fair-sized establishment. Upon entering, I see one large table is occupied being served by a waiter; not in a rush I wait patiently and it wasn’t until a women (presumably Ancila) leaves the kitchen that I’m addressed and instructed to sit wherever I like.

She returns to the kitchen and as I’m sitting there – without water, cutlery, or even a menu – I begin to wonder what’s going on. Finally, when my friend arrives, Ancila comes back to the table and things get clarified. We’re advised there are no printed menus; instead, she'll ask questions to come up with an order: On a scale from one to ten, what is your spice tolerance level? Are you vegetarian? Of the proteins are there any you particularly enjoy? Do you have any dietary restrictions?

With that we decided on a creamy medium spicy vegetarian dish and a spicier tomato based meat offering along with rice and naan. Ancila then went back to the kitchen to prepare everything and didn’t return until later to check on our experience.  

There was plenty of paneer in the tikka masala ($11); soft and fresh, it’s contrasted by a slight crunch from the bell peppers and onion. Being a thicker sauce, this went well sandwiched in between the warm toasted naan.


The mutton in the karahi ($12) was cooked well; stewed until tender with the collagen around the bone starting to break down. Cooked to a level-7 spiciness, the tomato, ginger and coriander sauce was hot enough to cause the tongue to sting and bring heat to your face. When too much sauce was spooned onto the rice ($3), a forkful of cooling raita ($2.50) helped calm it back down.


A downfall from not having a menu is not realizing all the options available. For example, for the sides, aside from rice we also ordered butter ($1.50) and garlic ($2.50) naan (any difference between the two is slight). However, after finding their menu online, I realize they also serve flakey paratha and flavourful briyani, I wish we had those instead.

It’s a quaint restaurant and with their no-menu system feels like you’re dining in Ancila’s home. “Let me make you a bit of food, what would you like?” it sort of feels like. The dishes take a while to prepare but what comes out is piping hot and made-to-order. Just be mindful about adding items too late in the meal, depending on the time, they may not be able to make dishes as even the samosa dough is made fresh. 

Like dining in a home, it’s a calm unhurried experience – there for a later dinner, Ancilia assured us to take our time and chat more, despite the restaurant being closed. What started off a little puzzling ended up being a good experience.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Mississauga, Canada
 Address: 6905 Millcreek Drive

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Ancila's Indian Cusine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bindia Indian Bistro (Toronto)

Bindia aims to serve Indian food within an airy brightly lit bistro. Their dining room doesn’t have an ounce of red or gold, instead there are calming blues and warm wood tones. The well ventilated restaurant means you can even go out afterwards without being perfumed with the aromatic aromas.

The vegetable pakora ($9) was a rocky start. The plump chickpea flour fritters arrived a lovely golden brown with plenty of crispy edges, but should be smaller as the inside was mushy and mealy, instead of the airy puff you’re expecting.

Luckily, the heaping lamb biryani ($19) redeemed the restaurant, incorporating flavourful spiced basmati rice where even the medium spice level already had me reaching for the raita (a thin cucumber yoghurt that really helps sooths the tongue). Tucking into the mound you’ll find chunks of tender lamb, not nearly as flavourful as the rice, but helps the mild lamb taste remain and distinguish itself from beef.


If a powerful lamb dish is what you’re craving, their vindaloo ($19) is also extremely tender despite containing even large pieces of meat and sits in plenty of their house-made sauce. The dish is great for slathering onto an order of basmati rice ($5) or tucked into a piece of warm crispy naan ($3).


Bindia’s paneer is the softest I’ve ever experienced, definitely closer to a cheese consistency than a firm tofu. Within the paneer tikka masala ($16) were large cubes of Indian cheese, stewed with onions and green peppers in a lovely masala cream sauce. Despite not having an ounce of meat, the dish is a rich and hearty.



With a big dining room, Bindia can accommodate large groups – certainly, during our holiday visit seems to be hosting many corporate lunches. Their dishes are great for sharing, so pass them along and break naan with your colleagues.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 16 Market Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Bindia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Menya Iroha 麺屋いろは(Kyoto)

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Address: Kyoto Station (10th floor in "Ramen Alley")
Website: http://www.menya-iroha.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner 
 


After visiting Japan, I’ve learnt two things about the beloved bowl of ramen:

1.    In Japan, they consider these to be “Chinese” noodles as some believe it originated from China’s hand-pulled noodles, whereas in Canada, we describe ramen as “Japanese”. In reality, the more traditional Japanese noodles are soba and udon; and

2.    The different soup bases are actually linked to different regions in Japan with miso being popular in Hokkaido, tonkotsu developed in Kyushu and black (dark soy) from Toyama.

With so many regions it feels impossible to try them all. Luckily, the 10th floor of Kyoto Station consolidates eight restaurants into Ramen Koji or Ramen Alley. Most are outposts of popular ramen chains from across Japan. My husband and I ventured to the floor and found each set-up similarly – with a vending machine order system out front and a series of tables / bars seats making up the dining room.

After doing a full circle, we ended up choosing Menya Iroha as it didn’t have a line-up but still seemed busy. I’ll admit, the big poster of Iron Chef Chen also caught our eye even though we couldn’t understand what it was advertising.  Something that’s endorsed by an Iron Chef must be good right? Upon doing some research afterwards, it turns out Menya won best ramen in the Tokyo Ramen competition for the last few years with their black ramen… hence their bragging rights.

Alas, I didn’t realize this was their specialty and after purchasing a combo of ramen, rice and gyoza (¥1,150) and being asked whether I wanted “white” or “black”, I naturally went with white as I prefer salt based soup over soy.  Had I known their crown jewel was the black ramen I would have ordered it – my husband did and said it was delicious.

Having been use to the smaller bowls of noodles served previously, we were surprised with the large size presented to us about ten minutes later. Topped with tons of Japanese scallions, bamboo shoots, a soft boiled egg, two slices of pork, three dried shrimp and a sheet of nori there was a lot of food to get through. The noodles are thinner & softer and the broth more watery than the springy noodle with thick soup combination I’ve become accustomed to in Toronto. I personally prefer the noodles to be more al dante, but enjoyed the broth as it wasn’t as heavy so I could have more of it with the ramen. The slices of pork were marbled to a bacon like consistency and so tender that it just flaked off. If only everything was hotter this would have been one of the better bowls I’ve had in my life. 

Alas, I only had a bite of the rice as I couldn’t even finish the noodles. Luckily, I wasn’t missing much as it’s pretty average - sticky rice with sprinkles of sesame seeds and very hard pieces of dried seaweed. After adding some broth into a spoon with the rice and seaweed it did help rehydrate things and make it more appetizing. 
The gyozas also needed more heat. But, I still loved the lightness of the wrapper and flavourful crust on the bottom; these wrapper didn’t get hard and rubbery as some can get once it’s been sitting out for a while. The simple pork and chive filling was pretty tame so a bit of soy sauce and chili oil was needed to give it the right flavour.

Menya Iroha’s dining space is quite small but has a fair number of counters and four top tables, each equipped with a pitcher of ice water and condiments. If you are looking for a quick and inexpensive meal, this is the place for you. We were in and out in less than half an hour and couldn't finish our meal with their hefty portion sizes. For the price it was a great quality and very satisfying. If you can’t make it to Japan, Menya also has an outpost in LA which may be a bit easier to get to.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!