Amaya: The Indian Room
1701 Bayview Ave.
Recommended: Good, but I’m not excited to return
Price for 2: $65 (2 3-course prix-fixe Summerlicious meals, no drinks – similar average meal for 2 probably closer to $120)
The first thing I noticed about this place was the decor. It has an adorable, exotic-yet-modern ambiance, with brightly painted walls, large web-like globe lights, and very cute coloured square glass candle holders (the magenta, fushcia, turquoise, lime green, yellow colour palette that is so warm and summery).
The second thing I noticed about this place was the god-awful service. It wasn’t terrible in the inattentive-and-unaware-of-appropriate-restaurant-customs kind of way, but rather the annoying, distracting, awkward, and generally giving a sense of unpleasantness that detracts from the experience kind of way. I’m sure both the servers meant well, but they interacted with us like awkward, semi-sarcastic highschool male gym teachers. Sigh.
The food hovered somewhere between meeting and exceeding our expectations. The starters, “Chaat” (chick peas, puffed rice, wheat crisps, potato, and red onion, with sweetened yoghurt and chutneys– my dining companion said “like an Indian potato salad…a re
ally really good one) and a “Malai Chicken Kebab” (incredibly tender and accompanied with 2 sauces), both impressed with their perfect blend of flavours and artful presentation.
The main courses were good, but did not elevate themselves above the appetizers. We got Lamb Korma and Murgh Makhani (butter chicken). In case you’re not familiar with Indian cuisine, check out the description at the bottom of both (borrowed from Wikipedia, of course). Both were delicious, with impressively tender meat (they were also not heavy compared to many Indian-style curry dishes- they were definitely tomato based as opposed to butter or cream based). They were simple in presentation and also seemingly simple in substance, as was the accompanying basmati rice, served in a funky copper pot. Other accompaniments such as Poppadum or their very fluffy-looking Naan would have been welcome, but cost extra.
Finally, the desserts were a nice way to end the meal, but nothing to rave about. We chose the coconut rice pudding and apple lassi. The rice pudding had the unique kick of Indian spices (cardamom, maybe?), and the apple lassi was a bittersweet, yogourt tasting dessert that I thought was nice at the end of a warm and somewhat rich meal.
Overall, a delicious night out made possible by Summerlicious- the food was flavourful, perfectly cooked, and not too heavy. However, with the massive selection of restaurants to explore in Toronto, I wouldn’t make it a priority to return to Amaya- especially not when the 3 courses that cost us $25 each would cost $40+ dollars.
Dressed chicken (with or without bones) is marinated overnight in a yogurt and spice mixture usually including garam masala, ginger, garlic paste, lemon or lime, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili. The chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, but can also be grilled, roasted or pan fried, depending on convenience or the chef’s preference.
Makhani, the sauce, is made by heating and mixing butter, tomato puree, and various spices, often including cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, fenugreek and fresh cream. Cashew paste can also be added, and will make the gravy thicker. Of all the spices added to the dish it is dried fenugreek leaves (Hindi: kasuri methi) that makes the greatest contribution to the characteristic flavour of the dish.
The korma [cooking] style is similar to all other braising techniques in that the meat or vegetable is first cooked briskly or seared using a high heat and then subjected to long, slow cooking using moist heat and a minimum of added liquid.
*The Amaya Korma was made with cashew nuts.