Food + Drink
November 5, 2019
No Old Cliches with Ambiyan’s Indian Cuisine
We were grateful to catch Paul Sandhu for a moment, founder of Ambiyan restaurants, who was busily laying the groundwork for his second location right here at Yonge + St. Clair when we first visited him. Continuing onwards using the momentum of his original Unionville location, he has set up shop locally to serve modern takes on Indian cuisine you already know and love, inside the courtyard of 1560 Yonge St.
Yonge + St. Clair: What is the story behind the Ambiyan name?
Paul Sandhu: Ambiyan means mangoes in Hindi and some other Indian languages. Literally it means raw or baby mangoes. We wanted to give our establishment a name that would be Indian but not too cliche like Taj Mahal or Maharaja. So, after much brainstorming this was the name that appealed the most to the individuals involved in establishing Ambiyan in Unionville in 2009.
Y+S: What is the approach your kitchen takes to Indian cuisine that’s different from other restaurants?
PS: Our chef is very particular about not going overboard with spices, especially not overusing chilis and cayenne pepper; by using a variety of spices that differs from dish to dish, Ambiyan sauces and seasonings taste unique for each dish rather than all dishes tasting alike. The chef’s expertise in blending and using dozens of spices in proper proportions give each dish a unique and subtle flavour that lingers on the palate long after the meal is over.
Y+S: Are there any particular dishes your kitchen is particularly proud of?
PS: Some of our most popular dishes are butter chicken, lamb vindaloo, coconut prawn curry, chana masala, chicken biryani, and saag paneer. Patrons also rave about our freshly baked naan, especially the garlic naan. All items on our menu are very carefully crafted, and the kitchen is proud of them all, the ones previously mentioned are just some of the more popular ones.
Y+S: What were some of the motivations to open up a second Ambiyan location at Yonge + St. Clair?
PS: For years, so many diners at our Unionville location made the trek up North from Toronto, and urged us to open a location in the city. We felt that there was a lack of quality Indian restaurants in the Yonge-St. Clair area, which is a great neighbourhood, and therefore it would be a great location to begin our expansion into the city.
Y+S: What are some of the highlights you expect your diners to experience, or taste at your location?
PS: We want our diners to have one the best, if not the best dining experience for any type of restaurant in Toronto at AMBIYAN. We aim to provide them with flavourful food with such a memorable taste that they will not help but share their experience with friends and family, and beyond the food, we want to wow them with great service in an elegant but comfortable setting where they can feel at home. We feel that we have already accomplished this goal to a great extent because just about all diners that have dined with us have made it point to tell us that they had such an enjoyable experience that they will be sure to spread the word about Ambiyan now being their favourite restaurant in the neighbourhood.
Y+S: Outside of the dishes your serve, what are your own favourite dishes?
PS: I love so many different types of foods: Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and just about every type of cuisine. However, sticking to the cuisines of the India, I also love Southern Indian dishes like Dosa, and especially South Indian snacks, of which there are way too many to list here. BTW, most of the ‘Indian’ Cuisine served outside of India, is Northern Indian Cuisine not Southern or even Cuisine from Western or Eastern India. The diversity of Indian Culture, and the sheer variety of Indian Cuisines is beyond most people’s comprehension, even for most people from India.
Y+S: So what’s next for the local Ambiyan on Yonge?
PS: In conclusion, our goal is to make Ambiyan a long time neighbourhood favourite, where locals and visitors alike can enjoy a memorable meal but also come in to enjoy a glass of wine or sit at our great bar with friends for drinks and snacks. Although restaurants that serve Indian food are not known for their wine offerings, we do hope that Ambiyan will soon become known as a ‘Wine Bar’, with a great selection of wines by the glass and bottle. And best of all, we are featuring a mid-week Half-Price wine night on Wednesdays, so please tell all your friends and neighbours. See you soon at Ambiyan on Yonge, which is actually just off Yonge, in the courtyard of The Delisle Court Building at 1560 Yonge St.