Now Open: Ji Restaurant


TORONTO — Pukka Restaurant co-owners Harsh Chawla and Derek Valleau have opened their latest restaurant, Ji, on 760 St. Clair Ave. W. The new concept focuses on a gastropub-style menu offered in a fun and laidback atmosphere.

The dishes at Ji were created by executive chef Kirti Singh and consist of both shared plates and entrées — all of which combine modern comfort foods with prominent hints of Indian cuisine. The macaroni makhani, for example, combines mac n’ cheese with butter chicken, featuring cavatappi noodles in a butter chicken sauce with tomato, buttercream, fenugreek and cheddar ($8).

At Ji, all meat is sourced from neighbouring butcher Roast Fine Foods, whose products are all ethically raised. Ji’s beef — 99 per cent grass-fed with the remaining one per cent consisting of potatoes and grains — comes from P.E.I.

At the bar, Pukka’s Catherine Hendry has concocted a new Indian-inspired cocktails menu, which includes the kachumber cooler — gin, cilantro, cucumber and ginger ale ($9); shikanji twist — vodka, lemon, cumin, mint and black salt ($9); and tamarind margarita — tequila, triple sec and orange ($12). Local beers — including Bellwoods Brewery, Flying Monkeys, and Black Oak — and wines — by the glass, half litre and bottle — are available to order. Hendry also serves up non-alcoholic beverages such as mango lassi ($4) and Indian sodas ($3), as well as Limca, Thums Up and Fanta.

The restaurant space is divided into two sections. On the left is a bar area, which seats four, with large-screen televisions playing silent Bollywood films and major sports events. On the right side is the dedicated dining area, consisting of turquoise leather booths with retro Indian travel posters in black frames, mounted on a bright white wall. “We want it to be kitschy and fun and have a pub feeling without being tacky,” says Valleau. The dining area seats up to 72 guests with an additional 18 seats available in Ji’s front patio.

Additional menu items include the footlong lamb seekh kebab — spicy lamb meat with lamb keema, melted cheddar cheese and pickled onions on thick white bread ($15); brisket poutine with masala-spiced fries, topped with paneer curds and pulled-beef curry ($15); and naanchos — crispy tortilla-style naan chips covered with spiced lamb keema, kachumber, raita and melted cheddar cheese ($13).

760 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto

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