Saturday, March 15, 2008

Makkah, Makkah, Makkah...Well Worth the Pilgramage

Makkah Restaurant- Danforth & Donlands (Greektown)

I don't frequent Indian restaurants too often...not only because I can eat this food at home, but for the most part most Indian places kill it with the oil/grease, and it does numbers on my system. After spending a weekend in Washington with buddy Kien, I realized he is quite the connoisseur of culinary delights. His background is Asian, Vietnamese to be exact...And he recommended this place called Makkah for some serious Indian/Pakistani food. At first I thought, how would an Asian know an Indian spot? (Sorry Kiener), but really after conversing with him over random eats over the weekend (Dennys', Baja Fresh, IHOP, Phillip's Crabshack, etc...blogs to follow) I realized he knows his stuff when it comes to eats. So we entrusted him with exploring this spot, and boy did he live up to his word.

This place is not your run of the mill, take-your-family-to-meet-your-fiance's-family type sit down fancy restaurant. And I'm glad it isn't. I would call this a serious hole in the wall, yet my rule of thumb is always- 'holes in the walls' serve the best food, bar-none.

Upon first impression, before we even got inside, I knew this place was ill. An open window reveals the front of Makkah's kitchen, with two huge Tandoori ovens right up in front, and the uncle, also known as Chef, or Boss, rolling out the naan and slapping it into the inside of the huge oven. I'm sold. There's nothing like fresh naan, and when I say fresh, I mean Frooosh. No butter, oil or grease needed to keep it moist. The naan itself is worth the drive to Acton (Greekton, to be exact).

So we let Kien do the ordering, since he knew best. Of course Winse had to have his samosa, and since they were out of the masala shrimp we fancied, we opted for masala fish. We also (over)ordered:

Chicken Biryani
Beef Biryani
Butter Chicken X 2
Naan Kababs
Tandoori Chicken Wings
Raita, chutney and ambli
and ample Naan

Okay so we are chilling in the back area, posted up beside a huuuuuge picture of, well, Mecca. The setting is very cafeteria-ish, but its cool because that's just how it is. There are no expectations at Makkah, just good food. Soon we hear the Boss call out that our food is ready from the front. We all took turns passing the trays to our table, and someone brought out our basket of froosh naan. As we placed everything onto our table, it was a great spread. Ithinkweoverbought! was the general consensus. So we just went nuts, leaving no naan unripped, no chicken butther-less, and nothing to take home, aside for some extra biryani. Between 5 of us, we went through it all, and it was amazing.

The naan kababs were a treat, not too big and not minner, the perfect size. Properly seasoned, although they looked like 'tuts' according to Winse. Still very good. The masala fish was exceptional, pan-fried perfectly with a nice crispiness on the outside, yet moist and flakey on the inside. The were like little Masala-Mcnuggets, with no 11-cent dipping sauce needed (screw you Bamburgh McDics). The biryani was flavourful, boasting nice even colour between rice and not overly saucy like the usual auntys' biryani. This was almost dry, and very tasty. Topped with some fresh cori, can't argue with that. The butter chicken was to die for...perfect balance of rich tomatoey goodness, not a lot of cream, but just enough, a little bit they say in India, TOP NOTCH (head nodding from side to side). Tandoori chicken wings were nicely spicy, loaded with tandoori. Sippi would be proud. This is no run-of-the-mill Kelsey's chicken wing, that's fo sho. Did I mention how good the naan was? I think I did. We ordered 2 more baskets. Nuff said.

Whats the TOE-TAL?
So after a little game of RO-Lette, and Winson claiming that he was winning 649 this weekend, we got the bill. Actually there's no bill, you just pay on your way out. Our total was $78, including pops all around. Remember, they don't serve you so there;s no tip. Bonus. I was personally shocked at how cheap it was. All the more reason to Thank-You, Come Again.

An hour later I was still full, not running to the nearest facility, and felt in a good 'zone'. Pillowy mounds of butter chicken were all I could think about...

Overall scores:

Decor- 2/5 Nothing fancy, almost an Indo-chic if you will......with enough accents of "back home" to make you feel welcome.

Service- 4/5 Very friendly, almost a help-yourself attitude which is cool, and very inviting. Casual at best.

Food- 5/5 No need to say much more, first 5 on 5thstar

Price- 4.5/5 Cheap cheap cheap, but no shortcuts taken...

OVERALL- 4.5/5

Makkah exudes that feeling of 'our food is so good we don't need to have proper washrooms', or even 'we're not here to make billions, we just want to make good food'. Well Makkah, congrats on a job, well done... There may have been some terrorist meetings going on beside us while we ate, and I don't think we even noticed...

On a side-nugget: between the time we visited this place and the time I wrote this blog, I've already been back, and been even more satisfied. I ordered a few similar dishes, namely the butter chicken and the biryani, and needless to say, consistency is there. Now I know I can depend on Makkah to link the same great food, daily.


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

makkah please! i recommended the place to a friend jonathan at work, who lives in the area of the restaurant. this cat jonathan knows his food. he's a frequent visitor to motimahal. he COTL at makkah over the weekend (after i passed on your blog post about it) and am proud to tell you that he said he ain't going to motimahal anymore. from here on out, makkah is the joint for when he needs his indian fix.

5th star, as you can see, is clearly performing a service for the community.


Sanjay said...

review was definitely "Top Notch" my head is also waving side-to-side..

gotta check this place out next time im on the East Side.

Anonymous said...

I think Jonathan and Kien should get together and recommend us places to blog about. It seems they know their isht. RespeCK goes out to you blogger-passer-oners