Bawara is an Indian restaurant serving up classics like Butter Chicken and Tandoori accompanied by Hakka-style street foods.
This spot was born out of longtime efforts between two former coworkers and chefs.
Gunateet Lavania and Rebecca Didio cooked together while working at the InterContinental Hotel. In 2020, after being laid off during lockdowns, Didio started pushing the idea for Lavania to open his own restaurant.
Lavania started his journey as a chef in Mumbai where he cooked a lot of Indian street food. His experience expanded to new flavours and places, as he worked as a chef for the cruise ship industry travelling all over Europe.
Didio and Lavania always knew they wanted to focus on Indian cuisine for the restaurant they would open up. In early 2021, they came across 1570 Bloor Street West, which had been empty for a long time.
Before they knew it, the pair was negotiating deals to buy the building and it became home to Bawara, meaning "crazy and passionate" in Hindi.
The structure of the restaurant itself has not changed much from the old Tibetan restaurant that was once here. One of the perks was that the previous owners left a wok grill behind, which would end up being a great addition for cooking Hakka food on Bawara's menu.
The presentation and diversity of colour in every dish is what makes a dining experience here different from many classicly Indian food spots in the city.
Be prepared to pay reasonable prices for large portions of food that taste like someone made it for you at home.
Kanpur Style Aloo Tikki ($11.95) is a popular Indian street food with a mix of fresh toppings. Spiced yogourt is topped with shredded fried potato patties, chickpeas and grated radish.
A blend of Bawara's chutneys add softer textures into the dish, plus pomegranate seeds, which Lavania says minimizes spiciness.
On the Hakka side of the menu is Szechuan Noodles ($14.95) we got the vegetable option, but you can get the chicken version for $16.95 or shrimp for $18.45.
Noodles are stir-fried with a spicy housemade Szechuan sauce giving it a rich shade of red. Mixed julienne vegetables, specifically various peppers and onions, are sauteed throughout.
Chicken 65 ($15.95) is one of the most popular dishes at Bawara and it makes sense. This hearty bowl of meat pairs perfectly with any of the various naan options, or fried rice that's served here.
Crispy bits of fried chicken are tossed into a wok with onions, red chilies, mustard seeds and curry leaves. The juicy sauce on this dish is made from a mixture of soy sauce, chili paste, and seasonings.
Tandoori Chicken ($16.95) is slightly charred but still remains tender when you bite into it. A half chicken is marinated overnight in yogurt, ginger, garlic, and a house-blend spice mix.
The chicken is baked inside of a tandoor clay oven and served on a plate of various chopped veggies. Dip the meat into the two sauces served on the side: a sweet sauce made with dates and coriander chutney.
If you're looking for something sweet to end the meal, the Mango Lassi ($6.95) is a thick, fruity drink with a smoothie consistency.
It's simple, just chunks of fresh mango blended with yogurt. Rose syrup is drizzled onto the side of the cup adding some sweetness, plus crumbled pistachios on top.
Bawara sits near the Bloor Street West and Dundas intersection facing a row of residential buildings, about a 10-minute walk away from High Park.