Sunday, March 29, 2009

Glutton Takes Toronto - Part Deux (2)

Let's play a game. It's more of a question that I've heard Anthony Bourdain ask many times on his show, and that's "What would be your last death row meal?". It was also the theme for one of this season's Top Chef challenges. Foodies loooooooove pondering this question (we're somewhat morbid that way), and also finding out what other people come up with. Of course, if you're NOT a foodie, you might prefer to go when you're in the throes of passion (yes, I've read a LOT of romance novels, especially the kind that use cheesy phrases like "throes of passion"), but if you see it from my perspective, having the perfect last meal can definitely be an act of passion.

This trip to Toronto was enlightening in many ways, and one of them was because I found my perfect last meal. Oh sweet mama, did I ever!

If I'm about to meet my Maker, then I want to go on a full and satisfied stomach (I'll need the energy, especially when He starts reading aloud from "Muneeba: The College Years"). And I've decided that there's only one thing I want as my very last meal. *Drum roll* ... Brains. Yup, there, I said it. Brains. Not just any brains, but Brain Masala, preferably from Lahore Tikka House in Toronto, accompanied by their Garlic Naan. As a death row meal, it's the only time I'd be able to gorge on brains without restraint. Because, as we all know, brains are nothing more than pure cholesterol, and going crazy on them in reality is tantamount to shaving at least a year off your life (which you could counteract by a solid month on the treadmill, but let's face it, this is MY life we're talking about).

Why is Lahore Tikka House selling Obama t-shirts?! Who would buy them? Maybe if you wanted to take home a t-shirt infused with the smell of onions and spices.

I didn't eat the whole plate of Brain Masala myself - but I could have. The only thing that stopped me was that I wanted to get home to DH alive, and also that my parents who were there with me would have fought me for their fair share. Yeah, it was THAT good.

There's the falooda, a dessert drink popular in Pakistan and India, made with milk, ice, rose-water, basil seeds, vermicelli, ice-cream and a few other nummies.

I've been scouring NYC for a place that offers Brain Masala, but to no avail. The last time I had Brain Masala was at least 7 years ago in Pakistan, so when my Dad said that this restaurant in Toronto has the best Brain Masala he's ever tasted, I was literally out the door and on my way before he could finish his sentence! Lahore Tikka House, as you can see from the images, is a bit of a conundrum. At the moment, it's a glorified dhaba (shack), complete with plastic chairs, rickety tables, unflattering lighting, false ceilings decorated with colorful scarves, and a genuine rickshaw from the motherland. They are building a much nicer place right next door, so the restaurant may have a new & improved home by this summer. BUT, the place has been under construction for the last four years, so you never know. Right now the bathroom is the only thing that's complete and looks really fancy (but it's also attached to the dhaba, which makes the experience a little surreal). The service is respectable, if a little spotty. It's the food though, the AMAZING food that will hook you so hard, that you won't really care for the rest of package. Creamy, spicy, melt-on-your-tongue Brain Masala, fresh buttery naan, tender kababs, and sweet milky falooda to end the meal .... *speechless and salivating*.

It's really hard to move on to other foods after that, but I persevered. I went to Kalendar on College Street, on what may have been the coldest, windiest day of the season! Fortunately the food was pretty good - but hard to categorize, since it had a bit of Caribbean in there, some Italian, some Canadian ... so let's just call it "fusion". That night we feasted on their nannettes (oven baked naan bread with all kinds of toppings) and scrolls (roti-like crepes stuffed with some great combinations of ingredients), but their salads on the menu looked pretty good too.

A good friend took me to JJ (Japanese-Thai cuisine) in Mississauga, and I really enjoyed the food and ambience there. We ordered quite a spread that night (the staff must've had a good laugh at our expense), but we did do a decent job of polishing off most of it. The only thing that didn't work out was the beef sashimi, which wasn't bad, just tasteless. The sushi was fantastic though, and I really enjoyed the Thai selections. Their fried calamari was one of the best I've had, and the duck curry with lychees and jackfruit was interesting and deeeeeeeelish.

I got the chance to hang out with another old friend of mine on this trip, and was delighted to meet her kitties! Check out this little beauty; her name is Bibi.
Isn't she gorgeous?! A real princess - all prim & proper. Wish my camera could capture her blue eyes. On my way home from my friend's place, I wondered if Bibi would go for my little guy, Jordan. But then I walked into my house and saw him like this ...
... erm, maybe not.


Gayathri said...

Lovely post

Doppelganger said...

hahaha I think the hubbs would agree with your choice of last death row meal! He's a big fan of brain masala. The food at Kalender sounds so interesting! and the pictures look amazing! You should be on the Toronto Tourism Board! ;) Oh yeah, and I think Bibi and Jordan could still make a go of it! I firmly believe in opposite's attract...if I didn't my hubby and I would never have found each other. And wouldn't that be a sad thing! :)

Sweta (My Indian Dietitian) said...

Ummm-I love Falooda! Brought back a lot of childhood memories :-)
Bibi is just adorable-my son loves animals.

Sophie said...

Lovely post, Muneeba!!