Revisiting a Classic — Lahore Tikka House in Toronto
Gerrard Street in Toronto is synonymous with all things South Asian. No mention of Gerrard India Bazaar is complete without the mention of Lahore Tikka House, an iconic restaurant and a main hub for people of all cultures to enjoy the taste of Pakistani cuisine. If you are a Toronto native, you have probably seen Lahore Tikka House in Toronto from its humble beginnings to the two-level restaurant it is today. Oh, and you also probably know of the rickshaw parked outside the restaurant and have most likely taken a picture or two with it in your lifetime.
We visited the restaurant after more than a decade on a Saturday evening. Lahore Tikka House was hustling and bustling with a steady flow of customers, although it was only 6:30pm and we thought we would be able to beat the rush, thinking no one eats dinner this early, right? Wrong. Before entering the restaurant we noticed the sign on the door indicating ‘cash only’ due to technical difficulties. We thought that perhaps that was an old sign and walked in, and again saw another ‘cash only’ sign. Since we never carry cash, we were forced to walk out of the restaurant, look for an ATM and come back, which was a bit of a hassle to be honest.
Despite the busy nature of the restaurant, we were seated within a few minutes. The tables were family style with bright coloured sequined tablecloths with plastic covers on top. The servers wore traditional waistcoats decorated with gold embroidery and glasswork. There were murals, paintings, and Pakistani decorative pieces everywhere in the restaurant that gave it the ethnic touch.
Their food ordering system was quite interesting. They gave us a big paper menu and a small white board with a marker. Customers are to write down their choices on the white board, take it up to the counter, wait in line, hand it in and then get a number for the table. We were not sure if this was their idea of being quirky and different, or some way of being more efficient? They had a huge army of staff so we are sure they are capable of taking orders. Their menu offers a wide variety of Pakistani dishes from Nihari, Haleem, Biryani and Kababs to fusion items such as Nutella Naan.
We ordered Butter Chicken ($12.99) with Butter Naan ($1.69) and the Rice Sizzler with two Beef Kababs and Chicken Tikka ($16.99). As we looked at the orders being taken to the tables nearby, we noticed that the portion sizes were decent for the price. We found it cool that they had a server walk around with fresh roasted green chillies on a skewer, and offering them to customers at every table.
The Butter Chicken looked delicious and had a generous serving of chicken in it. As for the taste, it did not taste like the butter chicken we know. It seemed to lack the creamy and buttery component that is the hallmark of butter chicken. It was more of a thick masala gravy with chicken in it. It was a decent tasting curry dish, but it was not butter chicken.
The Rice Sizzler came with a bed of seasoned rice and was topped with two Beef Kababs and Chicken Tikka pieces. The Beef Kababs were standard but not stellar. They were mild in both flavour and spice. They were more appetizing with the raita and red chutney. We enjoyed the Chicken Tikka the most as it was flavourful and juicy. Our favourite part was the fresh roasted green chillies
Lahore Tikka House is a renowned Pakistani restaurant in downtown Toronto. Most patrons visit the restaurant for the atmosphere and the ambiance. The food, in our opinion, was strictly ok. Perhaps, other items on their menu could be more appetizing. The service was attentive and our server made the visit worthwhile.
Meat Source: All Chicken is direct from Sargent Farms (hand slaughtered halal and HMA Certified Supplier) and beef is sourced from Iqbal Foods (HMA Certified Retailer) ** NOTE: meat was checked (verbal assurance) at time of review and can change at anytime – please check meat sources before eating and let us know if there are any discrepancies **
Sadia and Nadia are sisters who have a passion for halal food. Their hobbies include spending their hard-earned money at new restaurants, trying different cuisines, and instagramming pictures of food. Sadia loves to cook and bake while Nadia enjoys eating only. They run the Halal Food Enthusiasts blog where they share their food adventures and recipes.
Lahore Tikka House
1365 Gerrard St E, Toronto