When Amaya opened its doors in June 2007, the idea was simple: demonstrate that Indian food served in a modern way could still stay true to its roots. We use high-quality raw ingredients, classic Indian cooking methods and a distinctive interior design, and have friendly people to take care of each guest—features that are more frequently found in the world of fine dining. When we opened, there wasn't an industry category to describe what we were doing. After 10 years and with several Amaya Express locations, we compete in a category of dining now called "fine-casual," the fastest growing segment of the restaurant industry, where customers expect food quality that's more in line with full-service restaurants, coupled with the speed and convenience of fast food.
Our focus has always been on using the kinds of higher-quality ingredients and cooking techniques used in Indian high-end restaurants to make great food accessible at reasonable prices. But our vision has evolved. While using a variety of fresh ingredients remains the foundation of our menu, we believe that "fresh is not enough, anymore." Now we want to know where all of our ingredients come from, so that we can be sure they are as flavourful as possible while understanding the environmental and societal impact of our business.
Menu and Food Preparation
We serve few dishes on the menu compared to other Indian restaurants. We plan to keep a focused menu, but we’ll consider additions that we think make sense. And if guests can’t find something on the menu that’s quite what they’re after, we ask that they let us know. If we can make it from the ingredients we have, we’ll do it. In preparing our food, we use gas stoves and grills, pots and pans, cutting knives, wire whisks and other kitchen utensils, walk-in refrigerators stocked with a variety of fresh ingredients, Indian herbs and Indian spices and dry goods such as rice. All of our food is prepared from scratch, with 100% food prepared in our restaurants. We prepare our own chutneys and pickles.
The Man behind By Amaya - Hemant Bhagwani
India-born and Canadian-based, Chef Hemant Bhagwani, has a passion for the food service industry that has taken him all over the world. He has a Hotel and Culinary Management Degree from Switzerland and and eMBA from Australia, besides being a certified Professional Sommelier from Toronto. He has operated food service establishments in Australia and Dubai, before arriving in Toronto in 2000.
In an effort to showcase Indian food in the Canadian market, Hemant started and developed the Amaya Group of Restaurants. Today, Amaya naan breads and sauces are carried by grocery chains all across the country.