Now that’s a spicy roti!

My love for all things spicy is well served in Toronto.  That addictive feeling of having a burning sensation on my tongue and in my stomach had previously only been satisfied by hot chicken wings but now I can count on several culinary delights to get my fix.  I never had roti before coming to Toronto but now I find myself craving it frequently.  There are a number of roti shops in town and many of them are on my “list” (I actually keep a list of places I want to eat… is that weird?).  I’ve crossed off a few of them in the past month and thought I would share.

My first roti experience was at a place just down the street from where I live, Coconut Grove.  It’s a little shop with about five tables.  The girl who runs the counter is probably one of the friendliest servers I have ever met.  We have come to the point where she jokingly gives me a hard time if it has been too long between visits.  I’ve wanted to try the other things on the menu like their jerk chicken but can’t help but order the boneless curry chicken roti every time I go.  The roti itself is just okay but the filling is packed with flavor.  At first I thought it was a little dry and starchy but once you add their homemade hot sauce (which has some real kick to it) you quickly get over this.  Inside are generous portions of potatoes and chicken mixed in with a rich and flavorful curry.

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Last weekend I was taking a stroll down Queen St. with a friend with the intention of trying Ghandi roti.  Upon arrival, we saw that they weren’t open on the weekends.  As an alternative, I suggested that we grab something small to hold us over (we split a burrito) and continue westward to Bacchus roti.  Apparently Bacchus roti is a lot further west than I had anticipated so we also stopped at Nadege to grab another small snack on the way.  Once we arrived at Bacchus, we took note of the décor.  Apparently the nice tables and seating area are a result of the show restaurant makeover.  There were also some interesting looking mirrors on the wall that reminded my friend of windows on a submarine which lead us to think it may have previously been a seafood place.  We walked up to the counter and asked the guy whether he recommended the jerk chicken or curry chicken roti.  After hearing my penchant for spice he recommended the jerk chicken.  The roti arrived on a plate and I suddenly was a little worried that we wouldn’t be able to finish it (and to think that I suggested that we split a poutine from Poutini only moments before).  The roti itself was much better than Coconut Grove and the inside filling clearly used higher quality ingredients.  The meal was also almost double the price.  The taste was not what I expected.  I expected the typical jerk chicken flavor but instead found it tasted much like the curry chicken from Coconut Grove.  In fact, my friend and I both thought that the two tasted very similar, which is a good thing since I like the taste of the Coconut Grove filling.  The Bacchus roti didn’t have very much heat to it but it was still packed with that strong curry flavor.

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A few nights ago I decided to take a bit of a detour on my way home from work to try Ghandi Roti.  I walked in to find four small tables and five cooks in the back kitchen preparing for the dinner rush.  I went with the butter chicken roti with medium spice.  I think I just beat the dinner rush since only minutes later there was a line up from the counter to the door and a number of people placing orders on the phone.  After my first bite I understood why.  The roti wrap was the best I’ve had.  It has a bit of a doughy flavor to it which brought back memories of a pizza place I used to frequent who undercooked their pizza to give it more of a doughy flavor (Joe Dough Pizza Co… how I miss you).  Compared to the other two roti shops, this wrap had the most flavor.  The wrap is pumped out of this machine in the back that sounds like a loud sewing machine when they run it.  The butter chicken filling was hearty as expected and packed a lot of heat.  It was a good amount of heat too.  Not so hot that it takes focus away from the other flavors, but hot enough to get your blood pressure up.  As far as butter chicken goes, it isn’t the best I’ve had, but packaged in the tasty roti, it was delicious.  It was a little more expensive than I anticipated coming in only a couple dollars less than the Bacchus roti and being slightly smaller.

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Coconut Grove is great because it is close, cheap and tasty.  It will likely remain my go-to roti shop if I’m feeling lazy and cheap.  Bacchus has the highest quality ingredients and probably uses healthier cuts of chicken but if I made the trek out that way for roti, I would be more inclined to try one of the other shops in the area before making a second trip.  I felt the taste was too similar to Coconut Grove for double the price and about 20 times the distance.  I wish it was spicier too.  Ghandi has a lot more variety on their menu and some interesting options that I would like to explore.  Of the three, Ghandi Roti is currently my favorite in terms of taste.  Great roti, great filling and it really packs some heat. 

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~ by jlowjlow on November 8, 2009.

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