Monday, July 12, 2010

Would you like some Naan with your Butter Chicken?

Restaurant: Aroma Fine Indian Cuisine

Food Type: Indian

Location: 287 King Street West, Toronto

Pricing: $10.95 Buffet, $10-16 Dinner Entrees


Our Rating: 16/20

Aroma is found at the corner of John and King Street, at the heart of the downtown entertainment district. It's a block south of the ScotiaBank Theatre, and a stone's throw from the Royal Alexander Theatre. The location makes it ideal for either lunch or dinner engagements to round out a day/night out. The interior decor is classy and simple, with beaded lampshade candle holders for every table. The waiting staff are soft spoken and non-intrusive, but friendly and eager to please customers. There are two dine-in options, a lunch buffet and a la carte dinner menu. The buffet is priced at 10.95 and dinner entrees range from 10 to 16 dollars.

We originally discovered Aroma while searching for nearby Indian Food. Many reviews listed Aroma as having ‘The best Naan bread in Toronto.’ Given the size of Toronto, we were more than a little sceptical of this, but set out to test it for ourselves.

Our first experience with Aroma was via a delivery service, ordering the Butter Chicken and the Sali Boti, a spicy lamb dish. Along with this, we placed an order for extra Naan to see what the buzz was all about. Once the food arrived, we were impressed with the portion sizes; it’s not often that we leave food uneaten! The food was good, with the butter chicken outshining the lamb. The Naan bread, however, was exceptional and we were no longer in doubt about their claims to best in town.

The Butter Chicken carries a sweetness that leaves a smooth and creamy aftertaste, without the slight bitter or sour tinges from other butter chicken dishes. The meat was tender and juicy, fully cooked without being dry at all.

The Sali Boti was an energetic kick to our taste buds, with the sun-dried apricots providing occasional bursts of fruity sweetness to offset the spice. The lamb was, once again, tender and flavourful, lacking the stringy texture that accompanies some lower-quality meats.

Both dishes came with plenty of curry sauce to enjoy the Naan with, and were we ever glad to have ordered extra Naan!

Wanting a second taste of the excellent Naan, our second and third visits saw us visiting Aroma for their lunch buffet. They offer a fairly varied set of dishes, usually providing beef, chicken and lamb/goat, along with vegetarian options. The best part of the buffet: unlimited Naan! Take advantage of this! We found it a little strange to ask for Naan frequently, but the fresh-out-of-the-oven taste of hot Naan is well worth it!

Presented as a centrepiece of the buffet offering is the Chicken Tikki, found bubbling merrily on a large, flat platter and kept warm by a small portable flame. This dish turned out to be a light, delicious dish which paired very well with our Naan. The butter chicken remains their strongest item, and pairs very well with the light, freshly cooked Naan. The Tandoori Chicken looked a little dry initially, but proved to be the opposite upon further tasting. The Beef Rogan was tender and well-prepared but lacked flavour and had a decidedly stringy texture. A goat curry dish was available during our last visit, and was not disappointing in the least.

The Naan complimented the Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikki best, with the curries bringing out the buttery flavour of the bread. The beef and lamb/goat curries tended to taste better on their own, and we were happy to enjoy them while we waited for our next batch of naan to arrive!

For dessert, fresh fruits, Kheer, and Gulab Jamun were available, as well as surprisingly good ice cream.

Overall, we have not been disappointed with Aroma yet, and would recommend it for both first-time adventurers as well as well-weathered food critics.

Our Ratings:

Quality: 3/5

Value: 5/5

Presentation: 3/5 (We haven’t seen their dinner presentation yet)

Experience: 4/5

Bonus: +1 for upholding the “best Naan in town” claim

Overall: 16/20