Tuesday, February 21, 2006

getting your goat—ali's west indian roti shop

Ali's West Indian Roti Shop

Another month, another Chowhound dinner. Headed down to Parkdale this time, to test out the Trinidadian food at Ali's West Indian Roti Shop (Queen W and Lansdowne).

Almost Like Being There...
Decorwise, Ali's could best be described as fast-food joint with tropical scenery, such as the painting above. Business seemed to be mostly takeout, though a few customers decided to stick around the clean surroundings.

Rather than order individually, we ate family style, ordering a variety of dishes. Staff helpfully described what was in unfamiliar-sounding items.

We sampled mauby, a carbonated drink that started off with a pleasant hint of licorice that left a bitter aftertaste (though nowhere near as bad as Moxie). Nobody ordered a full cup. Instead, our drinks ranged from a large cup of peanut punch (think liquid Crispy Crunch/Butterfinger bar, very tasty) to 591 mL bottles of Busta soda (I tried pineapple, which didn't have the overwhelming sweetness of other brands).

Ali's AppetizersOther than pattties, we ordered each of the appetizers listed on the take-out menu. Left plate: chickpeas (for doubles), sahina (akin to a fluffy, spongy falafel), poulori (little dough balls). Right plate: aloo pie (a soft potato-stuffed patty), doubles. On the side: tamarind sauce that had kick. Thumbs up for all.

Name That Food!
Our main dishes. Clockwise from top left: plantain, pumpkin, dhalpouri, dhal, boneless goat, bone-in duck. Not pictured: paratha.

Consensus was that the duck was the weakest link, too bony to derive any satisfaction. The boneless goat may have been the best I've ever had: tender, flavourful and lean. I like goat, but hate fiddling around with bones or chunks that are 70% fat. The pureed pumpkin was nice, though we couldn't figure out what it was cooked in (we suspected beef or chicken broth - definitely no trace of cinnamon). Plantains were moist without being too greasy. Of the breads, I prefered the paratha, which was like a thin naan. They were great for dipping in our side containers of soupy dhal. The dhalpouri were OK, but messy (the dried lentils inside fell everywhere).

Thanks to the amount of bread we received, this was another meal where size looked deceptive. Though tempted, none of us tried any of the tempting desserts. Guess I'll have to try homemade soursop ice cream another day. Definitely a future stop on day-long walks out Queen West.

Cost: cheap. Our family-style meal was $12 a head. Individual dishes were in the $7-9 range.

Review on Chowhound's Toronto board.
Previous dinners: Ethiopian House (Jan/06). - JB

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