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Restaurants

Amaya the Indian Room

Posted by Debbie Ohi / Reviewed on July 2, 2007 / review policy

Amaya TorontoSince Amaya The Indian Room opened quietly two weeks ago, word has been spreading: this is no ordinary Indian restaurant. Not surprising, considering its founders: Lynn Stimpson and Derek Valleau. [Update: Lynne Stimpson (ex-Cava) is the General Manager at Amaya. Derek Valleau & Hemant Bhagwani are the proprietors.]

AmayaThe interior is tastefully decorated, with lots of wood and open space, and there's some soft world fusion music going on in the background instead of the usual cheesy pop so common in the typical Indian restaurant. I'm relieved; after all, there's nothing like a badly musacked "Stairway To Heaven" to take the edge off a good samosa experience.

Dishes in Amaya focus on North Indian cuisine. My server explains that North Indian food is milder than South Indian food, though diners are welcome to ask the chef for extra heat if they'd like.

The menu is divided up into starters ($5-14), vegetarian dishes ($8-12), seafood / fish ($19), poultry ($17-19), meat ($17-24), rice ($3-9), bread ($3-4) and accompaniments ($2-5). Amaya also carries a selection of wine by the glass and bottle ($35-99 for a bottle).

Amaya the indian roomAfter ordering, I am presented with some complimentary poppadoms accompanied by a small dish of mango sauce. The sweetness of the mango complements the peppery kick of the light and crunchy poppadoms.

For a starter, I have the Rajasthani Bhindi ($6, see photo at top of page), which consists of crispy Indian okra with a mango powder crust and mango chutney on the side.

I'm impressed by the artful presentation but still nervous; I chose the dish on whim because of its intriguing name. I take a tentative bite ... dear lord. My taste buds do cartwheels of ecstasy as each crispy morsel melts in my mouth. With great effort, I resist the urge the lick the plate. Okra has never tasted so good; I'd take these over French Fries any day.

AmayaAnd here comes the main course: Murgh Satrangi ($17) with organic chicken, green chili, assorted vegetables and lemon. I also order steamed long grain Himalayan basmati ($3) which comes in an interesting container that, though intriguing, holds a disappointingly small amount of rice.

Everything is good, and I find myself wondering what the other dishes on the menu would be like. Next time I come back, I'm bringing dinner companions; that way I'll be able to sample more dishes! Like the savory chaat (crispy dough wafers, sprouted beans, potato, yogurt and pomegranate seeds, $6), the patrani machchi (halibut, blend of 21(!) spices, mint, ginger, banana leaf wrapping, $19), the kerela pepper duck (tandoori roasted duck breast, orange, red & green apple, black pepper, $19), and the tandoori lobster.

After dinner, I peruse the dessert / tea menu. I wish I was hungry enough to order the expresso-cardamom creme brulee ($7), but I settle for an Indian truffle instead. The server gives me a choice of three:

Amaya Indian RestaurantI choose the garam masala truffle and leave the mango and mint for another visit. The combination of sweet and slightly spicy works surprisingly well. I finish with some Assam-Lapsang Souchong tea: the rich, smoky flavour is palate-pleasing and an appropriate finish to a wonderful meal.

I look forward to coming back soon. Tonight, I'll be dreaming of Rajasthani Bhindi ...

Amaya MenuAmaya Menu TorontoAmaya is open for dinner 7 nights a week at 5pm. Reservations recommended.

Discussion

29 Comments

SH / July 4, 2007 at 03:30 pm
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A picture of the menu with prices... clever idea!

It sounds different, that's for sure. Though I do appreciate the cheesy pop music at Indian joints, makes the experience seem more authentic :p
Chris Orbz / July 5, 2007 at 04:26 am
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This looks like a really incredible place... I'd usually expect to pay less for Indian food, but I'm thinking I'll probably be trying this anyway, which definitely says something.
Derek Valleau / July 5, 2007 at 12:47 pm
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Amaya is open for dinner 7 nights a week at 5pm. Please call ahead for reservations, as we are a small 40-seat restaurant; 416-322-3270. Just to clarify, Lynne Stimpson (ex-Cava) is the General Manager at Amaya. Derek Valleau & Hemant Bhagwani are the proprietors.
Debbie / July 5, 2007 at 08:46 pm
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Thanks for the clarification, Derek. I've updated the entry.
apetimberlake / April 7, 2008 at 01:34 pm
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Those are some pricey samosa's!
random leasider / June 26, 2008 at 10:14 pm
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went with family visiting from NYC, everyone enjoyed :D
cleaningawindowunitairconditionerBeepInsorne / July 21, 2008 at 03:59 pm
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Nicole / January 6, 2009 at 11:59 pm
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I have only been to Amaya down the street. The food is always consistently
excellent. I highly recommend!
Ripped Off / May 7, 2009 at 01:12 pm
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Someone I know was raving about this place and since I'm quite keen on Indian food I decided to give it a shot last Friday. What a major disappointment. The food was at best average. Nothing to write home about. What I had an issue with was the portions. I ordered some butter chicken for $17.00 and literally got 8 small chunks of chicken. I had a fish dish as well. A mouse would have been starved after eating. It was tiny. The menu above is totally different from what I saw. I know one thing for sure. I will not be going back there. North of Bombay is my usual Indian restaurant and there is no comparison. For $10.00 there I can get three times the amount of food and the taste is superior. Too each his own I guess. If you're into fancy presentations and cute little portions then Amaya is your place. Good luck!!!!!
Loving this place / July 20, 2009 at 03:48 pm
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My husband and I decided to try the food out here on Friday and we are definitely going back for more!
Although the food is a little pricier, we absolutely loved every bite of it.
We got the tasting menu for $42.00 per person and it came with 3 apps and 4 main with rice and garlic and plain naan. So much food we couldn't breathe by end of the meal! It was the most delicious meal ever - highly recommend the beef vindaloo...great suggestion!
We loved the service!
M.ARIF / August 3, 2009 at 10:50 am
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Had a meal with family last saturday,one of the worst indian meal we ever had, when we asked for something more spicy the guy put a teaspoon full of chilli powder and brought it back, having lived in the UK for more than 10 years, I can promise you even the worst
indian restaurant there will serve better food than this.
wake up Canada
kala moti / October 8, 2009 at 08:22 pm
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This place sucks! The food is awfull and prices outrageous. Stay away folks.
Rhea replying to a comment from Derek Valleau / October 25, 2009 at 02:59 pm
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Nothing beats the Bombay Club in Washington DC and Amaya isnt even close to authentic north Indian food. Nt even close to Chor Bazaar in London. The curries were a little sweet, the tandoori kebabs were oily and unflavourful. If this is the best toronto has to offer for Indian fare its a depressing option both in terms of ambience and quality of food. I am Indian - please dont anyone think this is good Indian food. The only nice thing was the chaat.
Mike Patel / January 10, 2010 at 09:08 pm
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I live in New York. Looking at the menu I am wondering why is the food so expensive in Canada? Samosa for $5 ???
indian?!! / May 18, 2010 at 01:30 pm
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north indian cuisine?!!! with ingredients like lobster, halibut, duck and truffles? hardly. north indians are not coastal and do not typically eat seafood. duck is not common and truffles are not an authentic indian dessert. obviously inauthentic, westernized menu by chefs who don't understand the cuisine.
desi chic / August 16, 2010 at 09:43 pm
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honestly this was my most disappointing indian food experience ever. The biryani tasted like some form of "jambalaya" no way considered Indian food. Blog T.O needs to get better informed people reviewing Indian restaurants. This was way off!
desi chic replying to a comment from Rhea / August 16, 2010 at 09:46 pm
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no no this def is NOT the best T.O has to offer! I think ANY other Indian restaurant would be better than Amaya.
Rakesh / September 13, 2010 at 05:31 pm
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These guys seem to have lost it! In trying to be gourmet style, they have messed up the indian flavors. The food is pricey, small quantities and low quality. I would not go back there. I don't mind spending money on genuinely good food and wine.
peter / December 1, 2010 at 06:38 pm
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Having read some of the reviews, i'm scratching my head. My wife and I have eaten in some of the best Indian Restaurants in NYC, London and Toronto, and Amaya is as good or better than any of them. Prices might be higher than the 'run of the mill' buffet joint, but the food is outstanding--getting hungry just thinking about it.
jason kennedy / December 27, 2010 at 05:04 pm
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Amaya is overpriced and the food is not real authentic Indian, having spent two years living in India, I know what good Indian food tastes like. This place would go out of business in a month if they ever opened a branch in Mumbai. The prices are soooo high its not worth the visit
Rob Kennedy / April 17, 2011 at 08:59 pm
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This place is overpriced and the food is terrible- This is not authentic Indian at all. This place was a major disappointment
Vikram Sharma / December 6, 2011 at 04:04 pm
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We used to love this place. We've been here many times over the years and also brought other couples here for dinner. The food has always been creative and exquisite. This week end we decided to treat oursleves and got a 8:45 sitting. The appetizers were exclellnt (chicken tikka and lamb kebab); The Lamb lollipop mains: some were over cooked and others raw- we asked the waitress to givethe chef the feed back - didn't hear naything from that. We've both developed a stomach bug since that evening ! Not what you want from a high priced menu ! We dine out a lot and are always keen to try new good restaurants - will be looking to add something else to our repetoire !

I think success has caused a Lassez Faire attitude here !
Kay / December 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm
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went to restaurant with a group of friends very excited but left unsatisfied. The food was Okay , the presentation was better than the taste. Very poor service had to wait for 25 minutes just to get served and get the starter , the waiter was Rude and unfriendly .Over priced for the food they provide .would not recommend :(
Nathan James replying to a comment from cleaningawindowunitairconditionerBeepInsorne / January 26, 2012 at 02:26 pm
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Please translate? lmao
Whoever told you that you can write ....lied
dee / February 2, 2012 at 12:08 am
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just went to amaya today for winterlicious. Ok first with the positive, great decor not your typical indian restaurant. Unfortunately thats the only positive i have. Decor can only do so much for a restaurant when the food is really below par. The only thing i liked from the winterlicious menu was the hagen daz ice cream. For me an indian restaurant is only as good as its butter chicken and i am sorry to say the butter chicken at amaya feels more like dessert than a dinner item. Sorry not impressed at all. Cant believe it's ranked 3 on this list.
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Jeffrey / October 4, 2012 at 09:59 pm
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I drove over to see this restaurant as it was recommended on the internet. The food had a good taste, but I must admit the price is way too high for what you get, and they were so stingy on the wine we had to ask them to fill the glass properly ! I would NOT recommend this restaurant for the price at all, it was over $80 for two people for less than quality experience. Rated 2 stars out of 5.
Deepak / June 5, 2013 at 04:53 pm
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Guys seriously stay away from this restaurant if you are really looking for authentic Indian food. Very expensive and you won't be able to figure out as to which is sweeter, their butter chicken or an item of their dessert menu. You are seriously better of trying other restaurants on this list.
Joanne Singra / February 16, 2014 at 07:22 am
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If you want REAL indian food, Amaya is not the place to go. Around the Leaside area you want to go to Banajara on Eglinton/Yonge or on the opposite end there is Iqbal restaurant in Thorncliffe. Both these places offer really great food, large portions and you're not paying for the pretend BS that Amaya delivers on a plate. For a more authentic indian taste with a buffett option, Indias Taste in Markham is a no-brainer; they cook the food much lighter and healthier than Amaya and the service is 100 times better.

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