This place has been in the neighborhood ever since my family moved here. It has been at the heart of Little India and we never went there once until now. It is quite noticeable for its large size, popularity, and the tuk-tuk [a type of three-wheeled vehicle, like those small trucks that are in Japan. Quite the fad for dodging traffic in India]. Walking inside was impressive, with fancy Indian memorabilia in the front door and exceptionally kind service, everyone was friendly. Then things got scary.
Almost like out of a Stephen King story about a homey town that turns out to be evil, terrifying plastic silverware and Styrofoam plates [they float down when you drop them, trust me I tried] as well as coke cans and water pitchers with no glass cups! Egads!
Then things took a turn for the weird, but not necessarily the ugly [sorry Children of the Corn, you’ll have to wait until next time]. The service is what you call ‘order at the counter’ which means that if you decided what you want to eat, you have to tell the person at the counter full of food. I was surprised when my mom came back with a table number, and more worried that it was number 55!
She explained to me that was the number of our table, not how many people were ahead of us in line. Sure enough, the waiter came over with the food we ordered.
It was decided that we would order food we’ve already tried, so that we can compare. The food was meant to be shared by two or more, as the waiter explained when I asked him. It was a little surprising everything was in pans, but way better than the disposables that are so scary.
I know someone sees them on the wing of a plane [I don’t know why I keep coming up with horror fiction references, I guess I don’t like the plastics that much]. Fortunately, the food was worth it.
It was delicious, and just as good as or even better than Haandi’s. We had the Three Beef Shish kabob [with a generous amount of rice], butter chicken—in a pan, and mutter paneer—also in a pan.
I have to agree with my mom on the beef, it tasted like meatballs. I liked how it seemed to have been marinated until it had subtle spice and a perfect tenderness that is hard to get when cooking beef.
The butter chicken was fantastic, that’s all that needs to be said. The chicken was flavourful and tender, as well as boneless which is very nice and something I haven’t seen anywhere else, including Haandi’s. The sauce was tasty, although different from the aforementioned joint’s.
Last but not least, the mutter paneer. To be honest, it was more mutter than paneer, which is to say it had the sauce, herbs [with an H], and peas, but not much of the tofu-cheese like stuff called paneer, if you’ll notice in the picture there aren’t many white cubes, and the one I had was a really big piece. What was there, however, aced it.
The sauce had a more sour taste than I’ve had before, be it from Haandi’s, Tandoori Chicken, or a recipe that’s a favourite at home. My Grandmother, who loves mutter paneer, didn’t like what we brought home. She complained there wasn’t enough paneer, like I said, and I got the impression she didn’t like the twist on the usual flavours.
All in all, a good place that definitely isn’t over hyped, and maybe even a little under hyped. I mean, this was as good as The Real Jerk, in its own way, and it’s still here [what happened to them anyway? They’re floating around like something out of a bad Star Trek episode, hey, at least I’m off the horror stuff]! I think that’s a lot from me, considering probably every restaurant I hate has or has had a hype, ‘buzz’ or whatever internet speak is suitable, positive critical reception, rigged by Zagat or not, or some other form of cheating their way up the ladder of fame. Sometimes I feel like one of those angry guys on YouTube that record themselves nagging about some movie, or book, or song, or… finger puppet cases that they don’t like, but sometimes I disagree with the mob.
Final verdict, if you can tolerate the dreadful plates, cups, and utensils, as well as the unorthodox serving method [I wonder if that’s how they do it in India or not but it sure is efficient], than friendly waiters, interesting large pieces of décor, and delicious food awaits.
Oh, by the way, I can’t drive the tuk-tuk very well. Let’s just hope that guy isn’t still mad…