What do you get when you combine succulent lobster with rich and aromatic curries? Why, Amaya’s Lobsterlicious prix fixe menu, of course.
From obtaining his culinary and hospitality degree in Switzerland to being a certified sommelier, to obtaining a masters in marketing in Australia, Chef and Owner Hemant Bhagwani is well-travelled and well-groomed to run the Amaya empire – which now comprises 16 restaurants and growing, including the Amaya Express outlets. The newest outpost is set to open up at the Rideau Centre in Ottawa, inching ever closer to Bhagwani’s dream of having an Amaya in every Canadian city.
When I used to think of Indian food, it was usually the all-you-can-eat buffet variety where hot trays contained an indiscernible olio of protein and heavily sauced dishes which I could barely pronounce. It was something that I ate only in the winter months because it provided warming comfort to my tummy; but one visit to Amaya and I realized just how very wrong I was.
Amaya is a place where culinary technique meets artistry as each dish is presented beautifully – making it both a feast for the eyes and for the stomach. I’d say Bhagwani has succeeded in his goal of elevating the profile of Indian cuisine and changing people’s preconceived notions that it is a heavy, unrefined food. I daresay he’s like Toronto’s version of Vikram Vij.
The dining room is reminiscent of another elevated chain, Spring Rolls, with its bright red interiors. It is definitely an inviting space, and the staff offers up warm hospitality with smiles, their palms clasping together in gratitude as you leave the restaurant.
Bhagwani has always served up Indian cuisine that’s light on the stomach but heavy on flavour. In the warmer months, the menu goes seafood-centric and this year he’s decided to offer a 3-course prix fixe menu for $39. You got it… Scaramouche isn’t the only Lobsterlicious option in town anymore.
Appetizers such as the succulent and meaty Gold Medal spice-crusted scallops on a bed of lentil-chilli relish are a great way to start the meal; the relish is nutty and adds a nice crunch. Samosas get an upgrade with lobster and corn atop a bed of lobster jus that adds an influx of flavour.
For mains, it’s all homards on deck as each of the offerings features the star ingredient. Order a side of Amaya’s crispy-thin naan and slather up the lobster makhani brandy sauce. It’ll be hard not to lick the plate! My initial worries about any lobster flavour being drowned out in overpowering curry sauces is set to rest as Bhagwani’s dishes are such that you can taste every component of the complex spices used, without them overpowering the natural sweetness of the lobster. For an extra $5 supplement, go for the whole nine yards with the roast lobster which sits on a bed of fragrant beet Jasmine rice and a spiced lobster jus.
But you had better put the naan down and save some room for dessert: either the mango cheesecake or the showy blueberry cardamom kulfi, which is transformed with liquid nitrogen before your eyes à la Alton Brown.
Lobsterlicious runs from now until May 18th at Amaya’s Indian Room. Pair the menu with a glass of your favourite riesling or sauvignon blanc as Mondays feature $1 corkage; or make it a girls night on Wednesdays with free corkage. Otherwise, bring your own bottle on any other night for a $15 corkage fee.
Will you be getting your lobster on at Amaya? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.