“It’s global flavours—without the fuss!” That’s how Hemant Bhagwani, the driving forced behind the Amaya empire, describes his latest venture, Bazaar Global Food Bar. The casual, family-friendly restaurant, which took over the space vacated by Lai Toh Heen, brings together flavours from a range of world cuisines and applies them to two of Toronto’s never-ending food obsessions: burgers and pizza.
Bhagwani originally envisioned the restaurant as a somewhat more upscale place, but he scrapped those plans, deciding instead that what Leaside really needed was a family-friendly joint. The space, spread out over two storeys, is divided into various smaller dining areas, helping to keep the vibe fairly intimate. The decor is high-energy: vibrant art from Anu Vittal on the walls and dancing footprints on the ceiling, a neon sign reading “Psychic Reading Here.” Chalkboard walls invite young hands to scribble away in an upstairs corner; downstairs, T-shirts hang on a wall, supporting kids in India through the Being Human Foundation.
The menu offers food influenced by the cuisines of Vietnam, Italy, Korea, Morocco and, of course, India. The menu, divided up into sections like “street food,” “hand-held” and “not-so-Neapolitan pizza,” also features a less-adventurous kids’ section (though they’re happy to downsize adult portions as well). One of the most popular picks to date has been the 16-spice chicken; inspired by a Bobby Flay dish from his Mesa Grill, it’s served on a bed of masala mashed potatoes and dotted with a pumpkin seed sauce ($15). The curried spinach pizza is topped with Indian saag, oven-roasted tomatoes and fior di latte ($14). There’s also a kid-size butter chicken burger served with fries ($8). Bhagwani, a sommelier, has kept the drink list focused locally, with particular emphasis on Niagara wines. Later this year he’s heading to Italy and India to learn about gelato making and South Indian food—both of which will, somehow, get folded into Bazaar.
Bazaar Global Food Bar, 692 Mount Pleasant Rd., 647-748-9100, globalbazaar.ca