"Hopefully you've worked up a big appetite," Aditi Uzagare coyly warns me ahead of my tasting experience at Khau Gully, her family-owned Indian restaurant in Davisville Village. Her words are music to my ears; I've never shied away from a pant-stretching meal, despite the fact that my eyes are almost always bigger than my stomach. I practically skip into her restaurant, prepared to test the very limits of how much I can eat.
Since 2018, Khau Gully serves the Indian staples you know and love along with carefully crafted specialties inspired by the country's various regions. Uzagare's stylish eatery is also yet another installation in the trend of "omnivore" Toronto restaurants offering both outstanding meat-based and vegan menus, like the Financial District's Chotto Matte or Yorkville's ONE Restaurant.
While I'll always be up for a trip to one of the best vegan restaurants in Toronto, they don't always appeal to my non-vegan friends, so it's great when restaurants have both options. At Khau Gully, there's an entirely separate plant-based menu that even has its own booklet in the restaurant.
Uzagare tells me she isn't plant-based, but says her brother "wouldn't take no for an answer" when it came to introducing a vegan menu that stood toe-to-toe with their lamb, chicken and seafood options. "He's pretty much a radical vegan," she jokes — but it's clear his persistence has paid off. Khau Gully has one of the biggest vegan menus I've seen at a meat-serving restaurant.
Khau Gully: What's the vibe?
Khau Gully literally translates to "eating street," and Uzagare likens her restaurant to an Indian night market. Inside, a large mural wall draped with gorgeous art of Indian street food and royalty greets me, and the red lantern lights dangling from the ceiling remind me of upside-down roses. The dining room is divided into three areas; a sheet-metal bar and snack counter, a luxurious red middle seating area and a cozier back stretch with more room for larger parties.
Khau Gully: What's on the menu?
It feels like a neighbourhood restaurant, but Khau Gully's creative presentations and rich flavours are far from predictable. Bhindi rajasthani (crispy, spiced okra) sails to my table piled like a mast on a long plate, and vanishes into my belly quickly.
Vegan tikka masala and vegan butter chicken aren't far behind; my eyes practically roll back in my head as I slurp down their layered spice blends and chewy plant-based meats. After I finish shovelling sauce-covered seitan — a tender wheat gluten protein — into my mouth, I mop up the rest with crispy clay pot-cooked parathas.
At this point, I'm already starting to get full — Khau Gully's portions are big and satisfying, but I simply can't hold myself back from trying as much of their vegan menu as possible.
A bread-wrapped vegan chicken biryani thuds onto the table. I eagerly watch as my server reveals its steaming centre of fluffy basmati rice, juicy seitan chicken and toasted cashews. Saffron floods my nostrils and entices me further. It's followed by homestyle dal tadka (creamy yellow lentils) and awadhi subzi, mixed vegetables in a cashew gravy — way too much food for my bursting stomach to handle, but I proudly make my way through most of each dish.
Khau Gully's heat levels are pretty manageable and enjoyable for most palates. I'm the type to empty an entire bottle of hot sauce onto my meal, so I would have enjoyed a heavier dose of spice in each dish — but that's just me.
Whether you're plant-based or an omnivore, there's plenty for everyone to feast on at Khau Gully. Non-vegans can sink their teeth into succulent lamb chunks doused with browned onion gravy in a bhuna gosht, chow down on artfully-presented cheese squares surfing on spinach gravy in the paneer-e-khaas, or slurp down creamy goan coconut milk shrimp curries.
Khau Gully: What's on the drink menu?
There's a small cocktail menu available here, but I'd recommend washing all of these big flavours with a pint of Khau Gully lager, an exclusive beer for the restaurant brewed at Spearhead Brewery in Kingston.
Dinner and drinks for two; $60 plus tax and tip.
Khau Gully, 1991 Yonge St.; khaugully.ca