Ji is an Indian restaurant from the same guys who created Pukka just blocks down the street on St. Clair. If Pukka is known for serving Indian in a refined setting with a high end wine list, Ji is far more about bringing pub food and Indian together in a fun, loose way.
Half of the restaurant is filled with TVs and a bar, and above the bar tiffin boxes create quirky lanterns.
Separated by a wall, the other half has pretty light blue booths, vintage posters and lighting with huge bulbs. The whole interior is tied together by a clean, modern, colourful design.
We start off with some fun shareable bar food/appetizers. The macaroni makhani ($) combines two of Toronto's fave comfort foods, butter chicken and mac n' cheese. It's curly cavatappi noodles in a butter chicken sauce with tomato, buttercream, fenugreek, and cheddar. It's comforting with the right amount of zing.
We grab some naanchos ($13) from the sharing portion of the menu, naan crisps that are way more like tortilla chips than any naan, topped with hearty spiced lamb keema, herby kachumber, cooling raita, and the same good old cheddar. I like the harmony of the toppings on this dish, but would be interested to see how it comes off with soft naan.
We also share the brisket poutine ($14), masala spiced fries topped with paneer curds and a pulled beef curry that's really good, carrying the similarly comforting, rich flavours as the mac. Cumin on the brisket braised for four to six hours brings in some more exotic flavours so it's not just a plain brisket on top of your poutine.
Their footlong lamb seekh kebab ($15) is almost too epic for me. The rich spicy lamb meat is a handful (literally) together with heavy white bread, cheddar, and lamb keema. Pickled onions do add some needed acidity.
I'm surprised by the how well the typical triple sec, orange juice and tequila flavours of citrus and booze in the tamarind margarita ($12) meld with Ji's Indian influence: this drink is refreshing, but the tequila and tamarind pack just enough punch.
Photos by Hector Vasquez