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Whenever we’re trying to decide what to eat for dinner, Mike always suggests Indian food. I usually turn it down since it’s such a heavy meal and I always leave the restaurant feeling five pounds heavier. So he was surprised when I suggested we go to Amaya one evening. Since I’ve heard such great things about the small chain, I was going in with pretty high expectations.

Chandi Platter – with a vegetable samosa, pakoras & onion bhajia

They have several locations, including some express and food court locations. On this visit we went to the Bread Bar, located on Yonge street just a few blocks north of Lawrence. Since it was a Friday night and we didn’t have a reservation, I called them beforehand to make sure they could accommodate us. “Come, come!” said the enthusiastic man on the phone. Guess it was a slow night.

The restaurant wasn’t very big, but it had a nice, intimate feel to it. The lighting was dim and all the tables had little candles lighting up the space.

Since we were starving, we decided to start with the Chandi Platter – with a vegetable samosa, pakoras & onion bhajia ($9). It came with one samosa which was cut in half and was one of the best samosa’s I’ve ever had! The potatoes and peas inside were perfectly seasoned and I loved the pastry which was a little soft in the middle and crispy on the edges. Delish! I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer vegetable samosas over the meat-filled ones, like the one I tried at Vij’s.

Amaya’s Butter Chicken

As for the pakoras and bhajia, I have to admit I had no idea what these were when we ordered the platter. I was probably daydreaming when the server explained what they were. I only caught the tail end of his explanation when he assured me they were delicious. And just like that, I was sold!

I started with the onion bhajia, which was pretty much a fried onion fritter. They were nice and crispy on the outside and had a moist interior. The server was right… I loved this! Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same about the pakoras. I think they were made of chickpeas which would explain its texture. I just found it too dry and crumbly for my liking.

One of the mains we ordered was Amaya’s Butter Chicken – a subtle blend of spices, tomato, cream & fenugreek ($15). It contained large chunks of chicken, which, to my disappointment was white meat. I don’t think I’ve ever had a chicken breast dish I’ve ever enjoyed. It’s just never as moist as dark meat, which I prefer. Just a matter of preference. Despite this, I still really enjoyed the dish. The sauce, which had a bit of sweetness to it, was so delicious, I licked most of it up with the naan we ordered.

Garlic Naan

I have to mention the Garlic Naan ($3.50). The menu described it as “plain naan infused with garlic.” Whenever I see a garlic version of something on a menu, I just have to order it. Garlic just makes everything so much better!  This naan was amazing. It was light, crisp on one side and was just a touch chewy. It was the perfect accompaniment for the entrees we ordered. This is definitely a must-order at Amaya.

Our other entrée was the Coastal Prawn Curry – with coconut milk, tamarind, mustard seeds & curry leaves ($19). We found the prawns to be on the chewy side, which often happens given how quickly they cook through. As for the curry itself, it was slightly sweet and had a bit of a kick to it. I thought this was a pretty decent curry but we both preferred the butter chicken.

Coastal Prawn Curry

Since the entrees don’t come with any carbs, we also ordered a side of Saffron Pilau Basmati – Himalayan basmati rice with a hint of saffron ($4). It was served in a little pail and as for the saffron? It definitely was a “hint” as the menu described, since it simply tasted like plain basmati rice to me. And at $4, I’d rather just have some plain basmati for half the price.

Overall, I had a pretty good experience at Amaya. Sure, the prices are a little on the high side – the bill for two of us came to nearly $60 before tips, but given the great food (for the most part) and the upscale, intimate ambiance, I feel it’s justified. I’d come back!

Amaya's Bread Bar Exterior

At a glance:

  • Several locations – including some express/food court options
  • This review was for the Yonge/Lawrence location
  • Great food – must order the garlic naan
  • Dim, intimate atmosphere
  • Ratings (out of 5):

  • Food: 4 stars
  • Service: 4 stars
  • Atmosphere: 4.5 stars
  • Amaya's Bread Bar on Urbanspoon

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