Vij's restaurant provides patrons with a culinary delight. Photo by Mellowfood
Being of Indian ancestry, and having travelled extensively across the subcontinent, I’ve been fortunate to have indulged in this cuisine all my life. There’s really no such thing as “Indian food”. Each state in India proudly claims supremacy when it comes to pleasing the palate. But no matter which fare you sample, this is one of the most complex cuisines anywhere. A good “curry” is a blend of just the right proportions of different spices for both the palate and the nose.
And, unlike the curry powders available in local grocery stores, each curry uses subtle variations in the spices unique to its state, city, and even the individual cook. There’s a reason every Indian man only likes his mom’s cooking – it’s nearly impossible to duplicate her spices. Vancouver's Indian community is predominantly from the Punjab. Take a walk through Little India on Main Street between 47th and 51st. You’ll be amazed at the variety of spice shops, sweets, and restaurants as well as the very fashionable clothing boutiques. It is truly a little taste of Punjabi Indian culture.
When it comes to Vancouver’s Indian restaurant scene, there’s little doubt that Vikram Vij and his restaurant Vij's is supreme. From his humble beginnings at a tiny restaurant, Vij already knew the formula for success ... great Indian food infused with local ingredients to yield a modern twist. He now has much fancy digs, but his formula remains the same. Be warned – he has a very strict “no reservations” policy and line-ups form well before opening. But that too is part of the fun. As you wait outside, you’ll be served hot chai, which will only make you drool that much more as the smells waft from inside. Signature dishes include the wine marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry, and the grilled sablefish in a mango reduction. Following on the success of the restaurant, Vij opened the popular Rangoli next door. This casual cafe also offers a take-out market featuring frozen and refrigerated ready to eat dishes prepared with the same care as at Vij’s.
Vij's, 1480 W. 11th Ave., Vancouver, BC, 604-736-6664; Dinner daily from 5:30pm (no reservations), Olympic hours: from 5pm; Dinner $40/person.
Rangoli, 1488 W. 11th Ave, Vancouver, BC, 604-736-5711; Daily: 11am-10pm; Lunch $15/person. Close to City Hall, Ukraine House, and Granville Island Venues.
On the north shore of the city, a restaurant garnering increasing attention for the quality of its food is Mumbai Masala. The menu here is focused much more on healthy choices, something you often don’t see in Indian establishments. Meats are cooked in a traditional tandoor (clay oven) which adds a unique flavor. Try the lamb chops, which are soaked in Indian spices for 24 hours before being baked in the tandoor.
Mumbai Masala, 138 West 16th Street, North Vancouver, BC; 604.984.8888; Mon - Fri: 11:30am - 2pm, 5pm - 11pm, Sat & Sun: 5:00pm - 11:00pm; Lunch $15/person, Dinner $20/person. Close to Russian Tall Ship and Winterfest at Lonsdale.
- post by Michelle Pereira