Review: North of Bombay
April 18, 2010
Address: 2996 Dundas Street W, Toronto
Alana and Rich both ordered: Samosas, mango pickles, dal makhani, eggplant bharta, aloo gobi, and naan.
Plus: Wide menu, generous servings, tasty vegetarian dishes.
Minus: Small naan, food ordered less than “spicy” may come out bland.
Rating: 8 KHAAAAAN!s out of 10
Alana sez: In the Junction, we have no less than 4 Indian restaurants to choose from when we get a hankering for something spicy. Our usual default is Curry Twist, but when Rich and I decided to host a screening of The Wrath of Khan for some friends last weekend, we thought it might be fun to try something new. This adventurous mood eventually landed us at North of Bombay with our Shatner-enthusiast pals Leah, Dan, and Iris.
The menu at North of Bombay is larger than at Curry Twist, with a wide selection of vegetarian options — great news for Rich, Iris, and I, as we were in the mood for veggies. After some discussion (too many choices!), we settled on the dal makhari, eggplant bharta, and aloo gobi, and asked the kitchen to make them spicy. Leah and Dan opted for a meatier menu and went with the lamb curry and butter chicken, ordered medium in the spice department. We all ordered samosas and naan to go along with our mains.
After a brief wait the samosas arrived, accompanied by three condiment options: green coriander chutney, tamarind chutney, and a diced onion and tomato salsa. The green chutney was the clear favourite at our table — its bold, tangy coriander flavour went excellently with our pastries. The samosas themselves were also delicious — packed full of spicy potatoes and peas, with a crispy (but not greasy) exterior. Our meal was off to a good start.
As our mains arrived at the table, I noticed that the serving sizes at North of Bombay are larger than you usually see in an Indian restaurant — I worried for a moment that we had ordered too much. This fear was erased as soon as I took a bite of the eggplant bharta. Smooth, smoky, and fresh-tasting, with perfectly balanced spices, I knew there would be no leftovers from this dish. Sure enough, by the end of the meal, Iris was polishing off the last of the eggplant directly from the serving dish, with a spoon. It was heavenly. The aloo gobi, which often suffers from blandness at lesser Indian restaurants, came in a fantastic tomato-based sauce — tart, spicy, and sweet all at once. I was also impressed with the crisp-tender texture of the cauliflower — no mush here. The dal was also solid, with perfectly-cooked lentils bringing the heat, but did not wow us like the other two dishes. Although the mains at North of Bombay are generous, the naan is on the small side — this was bothersome to me, because I LOVE naan, and their version is soft, slightly charred, and delicious. I would have liked to have more of it to sop up the delicious sauces.
Our meat-eating friends were less impressed with their meal — at North of Bombay, ordering your dishes “medium” seems to imply that you want no spice at all. The lamb curry and butter chicken were deemed bland, but still tasty. If you find yourself at NoB, stick with spicy — I don’t have a super-high tolerance for heat and I found the spice level to be perfect in our veggie dishes.
As we finished up and headed home to watch James T. Kirk’s mid-life crisis, we all agreed that North of Bombay served up a great pre-movie dinner. We’re lucky in the Junction to have so many great restaurants at our disposal, and North of Bombay will definitely become a more regular part of our repertoire. We’ll just make sure to order extra naan next time.
Rich sez: “Mango Pickles!!!!” is what I screamed out when I saw them on the menu at North of Bombay. “Mango pickles” is what I sung in my head to the tune of the BATMAN jingle as they arrived at our table. As I put a piece in my mouth, I imagined the mango pickles beating the eff out of my taste buds — POW! BLAM! POOF! BAP! Little did I know, I hate mango pickles. GAG! SPIT! SPALT! GROSS! Once I had gargled away the offensive flavour with my Kingfisher beer, Alana reminded me that I have ordered Mango pickles before, from Curry Twist (name drop), and that I had also spit them out there. Oh yeah …
I don’t blame North of Bombay for my poor short-term memory, but I do blame them for making my mouth salivate. Going into NoB, I was skeptical. Like Alana said, we have 4 indian restaurants in the Junction, and one of them is aguably the best in Toronto — I had my doubts that NoB could compete. Those doubts would soon be squashed with their mango pickles. No, wait — their samosas. What a delight they were. I would have smothered my samosa with the delicious green coriander chutney, but Alana did a three-finger dip into the sauce to coat her samosa. Thanks. Awesome. Wicked. But not to worry, the waitress brought a second helping of the condiments and I helped myself to a second helping of the samosas. Life was good.
After being cross-examined about my decision to wear Batman underwear on our Star Trek movie night, our main dishes arrived. The eggplant bharta was by far the best I’ve ever had, even better than Curry Twist’s. It was so tasty, so flavourful, that I had wrestle with Alana’s imaginary friend Iris to try to finish off the dish. Sadly, like Khan, I was out-smarted and left jersied with the table cloth stuck in my mouth. I lost out on the bharta, but my genetically engineered intellect helped me snag the last few mango pickles on our way out the door. Victory! Wait — NOOOOOOOOO!