Mediocre Khao Soi at Imm Thai Kitchen

Imm Thai KitchenLocation: 651 College Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Immthaikitchen/

Khao soi is one of those dishes I have a hard time resisting.  The combo of the creamy and vibrant curry soup, the chewy noodles in the bowl, and the crispy fried ones on top add up to a dynamite mix of flavours and textures.

Imm Thai Kitchen

At Imm Thai, I tried a few of the starters before I got to the soup: spring rolls, fresh rolls, and fried sweet potato.  The two types of rolls were both about what you’d expect, but the sweet potato really stood out.  The thin strands of potato were crunchy and addictive — they were basically like a freshly-fried version of Hickory Sticks, and I couldn’t get enough of them.

Imm Thai Kitchen

The khao soi, on the other hand — i.e. the reason I wanted to visit the restaurant in the first place — wasn’t the best.  It was fine; I certainly didn’t dislike eating it, but it is absolutely, positively not in the same league as the best bowls of this particular dish.

Imm Thai Kitchen

The “soup” itself is the biggest issue.  And yes, in this case, the word soup definitely needs to be in quotes — the thick, sludgy liquid here was at the consistency of a particularly hearty gravy.

Imm Thai Kitchen

Of course, the broth in a bowl of khao soi is supposed to be a little bit richer than a typical bowl of soup, but this version took that two or three (or four or five) steps too far.

Imm Thai Kitchen

The flavour, too, was a bit one-note, with none of the delightful complexity that makes the best bowls of khao soi really sing.  The crispy noodles on top were nice, if not quite as abundant as you’d like, and the pieces of chicken (you can also pick tofu, shrimp, or lobster) were all dry, personality-free chunks of white meat.

Delicious Roti at My Roti Place

My Roti PlaceLocation: 406 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://myrotiplace.com/

I’ve heard basically nothing but good things about My Roti Place, a rapidly expanding chain that specializes in spice-packed roti.  I feared it might have been overhyped, but yeah: it’s very good.

My Roti Place

You can choose your roti, your meat, and your sauce; I went pretty basic with Mom’s Classic Curry with chicken, wrapped in a classic roti.  The spice level is also customizable, with mild, medium, serious, and extreme being options.  I figured extreme might be a bit too intense, so I went with serious.

My Roti Place

I guess should have gone with extreme; the “serious” level of heat turned out to be not-so-serious.  It was noticeably hot, but I’d put it on the upper level of mild.  A bit more spice would have been nice.

I may as well get my other complaint out of the way.  The chunks of chicken, though generous, are dry and leftovery.

My Roti Place

Everything else about this was fantastic.  The roti was nice and chewy, and complemented the vibrant curry perfectly.  And that curry was outstanding; I’m happy to overlook any number of minor complaints when the curry is that tasty.  I don’t care what you serve a curry that good with; it’s automatically going to be delicious.  The curry has an amazing depth of flavour that I couldn’t get enough of.  It’s serious business.

Fake Butter Chicken at TVX: The Vegan Extremist

The Vegan ExtremistLocation: 291 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.facebook.com/TheVeganExtremist/

Is it still butter chicken if it doesn’t have butter or chicken?  That’s the question at TVX, a vegan joint in Kensington Market that serves what it calls “plant-based South Asian cuisine.”

Mostly, they serve a variety of vegan curries that come with rice and paratha roti.  One of those curries is the aforementioned butter-and-chickenless butter chicken, which subs in fried cauliflower for chicken.

The Vegan Extremist

So is it still butter chicken?  Not really.  But is it tasty?  Definitely.

It doesn’t taste quite like any butter chicken I’ve had before — the sauce is tangier and less creamy — but for what it is, it’s quite good.  It’s garlicky, very spicy (you can choose your heat level — I went with the spiciest, and it wasn’t kidding around) and surprisingly satisfying.

The Vegan Extremist

The fried cauliflower works really well — it’s battered and fried, with a nice crunchy exterior and a meaty interior.  It doesn’t even vaguely resemble the chicken in a traditional butter chicken, but the hearty crunch stands up nicely to the sauce, and it’s delicious regardless.

The paratha roti was also untraditional but tasty.  It’s thicker and more substantial than any paratha roti I’ve had before, but it still had that satisfying combo of crispy, greasy exterior and chewy interior that you’re looking for.

Shoddy Indian Food at Amaya in Sherway Gardens

Amaya Sherway GardensLocation: 25 Sherway Gardens Road, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.amayarestaurant.com/

Amaya is a (usually) decent quality chain that (usually) serves tasty Indian fare.  But the Sherway Gardens location is… odd.  I tried it when it first opened, and the food was so atrociously bad that it was nearly inedible.

I figured they deserved another chance — new restaurants often need a month or two to work out all the kinks.  I just tried the rogan josh, which features big chunks of lamb in a mildly spicy curry sauce on top of basmati rice.

Amaya Sherway Gardens

Yeah, it was pretty bad.  It’s so weird, because the other Amaya locations I’ve tried have been pretty reliable, but the Sherway Gardens location is almost like a completely different restaurant.

The flavour of the curry wasn’t bad, but the chunks of lamb were mostly tough and rubbery (with a few tender pieces interspersed throughout to mix things up), the rice was ice cold, and when I got to the bottom of the bowl, there was a big pool of greasy water that was tremendously off-putting.

Delicious Roti at D Hot Shoppe

D Hot ShoppeLocation: 4155 Fairview Street, Burlington
Websitehttps://www.dhotshoppe.com/

I showed up at D Hot Shoppe at around 2:00 on a weekday, and it was absolutely packed.  They also had a section of the wall dedicated to framed plaudits from various publications (which didn’t even include the article that brought me here in the first place).

D Hot Shoppe

Suffice it to say, I was fairly certain I was in for a tasty meal.

I ordered the small chicken roti, which costs seven bucks and is actually quite generous, so it’s a great deal.

D Hot Shoppe

They have six heat levels you can choose from, ranging from mild to suicide — I went with hot, which is right in the middle.  It was a great level of heat.  It’s noticeably spicy, but not unpleasantly so.

D Hot Shoppe

It’s very, very easy to see why the place is so popular.  Everything was just right, from the richly flavourful curry sauce, to the big chunks of tender chicken and potato, to the satisfyingly chewy, spice-packed roti shell.

It’s a fantastic, affordable lunch.  What’s better than that?