Location: 291 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
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.
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 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.
Location: 25 Sherway Gardens Road, Etobicoke
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.
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.
Location: 4155 Fairview Street, Burlington
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).
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.
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.
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?
Location: 11 Charlotte Street, Toronto
The Khao Soi at Khao San Road is improbably good. It’s the type of dish where you have your first mouthful and think “wait… is this as delicious as I think it is?” Then you take another mouthful, and yeah: it really is that good.
Khao soi is a Thai noodle soup that features a super rich curry broth topped with crispy fried noodles for texture.
The version at Khao San Road is outstanding. That restaurant is one of those places with a perpetual line out the door; once you try the food, it’s easy enough to see why.
The curry-infused soup — made indulgently rich thanks to creamy coconut milk — is so damn satisfying.
There’s nothing subtle about it; it’s an absolute flavour bomb, but with a complexity that ensures it never feels one-note or overwhelming, despite how assertive the flavours are.
I had it with chicken, which complimented it quite well; you can also get tofu, beef, or shrimp.
The combination of the crispy noodles on top, the chewy noodles in the bowl, and the ultra-creamy soup is seriously addictive. It’s ridiculously good.
Location: 105 McCaul Street, Toronto
Does the world need yet another Manpuku post from me? Probably not! (This would be post number three, for those keeping count.) Am I going to do it anyway?
Yes. Yes I am.
I feel like I have to keep telling everyone I can about this place, because it continually impresses me with its delightful combination of tasty eats and ultra-affordable prices.
On this particular visit I tried the curry don, which features a heaping serving of rice topped with a generous amount of beef curry.
As with everything else here, it’s quite good. The mild curry isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, but it’s rich, tasty, and abundantly satisfying. It comes with a whole bunch of tender, thinly-shaved beef and is, unsurprisingly, an amazing deal at $6.99 (which I guess is actually kind of expensive by Manpuku’s standards).