It's easy to miss Lahore Tikka House, nestled in Little India in Toronto's East End along Gerrard Street. It looks like it should be a medical office, but keep an eye out for the colourful Pakistani rickshaw sitting right in front of its doors and you'll know you've arrived at the restaurant many Torontonians call a favourite.
Once located in not-so-temporary trailers, Lahore Tikka House's current indoor space is large while still feeling like a neighbourhood "hole in the wall." A large part of that is how the patio furniture and Styrofoam plates and plastic cutlery make it feel like an unassuming food tent. Which (except for the shameful use of Styrofoam) adds an unexpected communal charm to the restaurant.
So do the servers. Sure, technically they don't have all that much to do since you place your own orders at the front counter. Still, they were friendly and always on hand to ask if we wanted drinks and how our food was. Even the kitchen staff helped out — they were the ones to bring us our food directly. The only hiccup was that our request for a container to take food home in got lost. After waiting ten minutes, we had to put in the request again with another server, but this one came quickly and packed our food up for us.
Lights In Lahore Tikka House By Robyn Lee
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before I talk about the end of the meal, I should mention the meal itself. After browsing the menu, my companion and I decided to — as one should with Pakistani and North Indian food — share a few dishes. We settled on the karahi gosht, a lamb dish lamb, ($11.25) palak paneer ($9.50), chicken biryani ($9.99), and, of course, some butter naan ($1.99 each).
Naan In Lahore Tikka House By Robyn Lee
Going into the meal, I was very much aware of the reputation Lahore Tikka House has for having very oily food. That reputation proved to be both true and untrue. Yes, after sampling the palak paneer, it was hard to miss the pool of yellow oil that quickly gathered on my plate. But the rest of the dishes weren't an issue at all. What's more, they were really good.
Butter Chicken In Lahore Tikka House By Robyn Lee
The karahi gosht was soft and flavourful, the meat falling right off the bone. The best was undoubtedly the chicken biryani, which had very aromatic, tasty, rich chicken and huge portions. It was bigger than all our other food combined. The only minor complaint was that it surprisingly had a lot of small bones in it, making it hard to get through the meal without getting constantly stabbed in the mouth. But what do I know? My companion said the bones were one of his highlights. He also enjoyed the rest of the meal, admiring the good (but not overwhelming) level of spice and the fresh cilantro sprinkled on top of the dishes.
Tasty Rice In Lahore Tikka House By Robyn Lee
Ultimately, Lahore Tikka House's food is worth recommending. It's good Pakistani and North Indian food, but it's worth noting two things. One, it's not for the faint of stomach because of the oil, spice, and size of some of the dishes. Two, the restaurant is surprisingly expensive for good, but not great, food. The best way to think of Lahore Tikka House is as a quintessential neighbourhood joint. It's that place locals venture to in order to get dependable comfort food for takeout or a quick meal. Is it worth trekking to if you're elsewhere in the city? Definitely worth it to give it a shot. Is it worth coming here again and again? Maybe not.