Vij’s, Vancouver

Whilst there was no shortage of great food on my travels through the Americas, the one bit of eating that is dire across South and North America is Indian. There seems to be a disastrous lack of quality Indian restaurants for the discerning diner. By quality, I naturally mean restaurants of a calibre we have in London, after all, greasy Indian eateries are a dime a dozen the world over with varying degrees of shock and horror, and very few making it to the list of ‘decently edible’. However, before I ventured into the western hemisphere, a couple of friendly travellers that I met in Sri Lanka insisted that whilst in Vancouver, I make a trip to a restaurant called Vij’s, Canada’s seemingly most celebrated Indian restaurant. Of course, the nature of it’s celebrity status was only revealed when I actually landed on Canadian soil and the name Vij’s rang out like a insistent echo; everybody knew of it, almost everyone had been there or wanted to go there and the man himself, Vij, was a bit of a celebrity with his cookbook, his supermarket products, his endless charm and what not. It so happened that the friends I stayed with in Vancouver, only lived walking distance from Vij’s and so on a fine summer evening we sauntered over only to find that we were confronted with a 90 minute wait for a table. Every single table was full – a pleasant sight in spite of its frustration. As it turned out, there was an upside to waiting out in the Canadian summer sun with a cocktail in hand…

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Chickpea  chaat
Tapioca chips
Pakoras
Puri

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An endless supply of canapes are brought out whilst you wait, consisting of Chickpea chaat (gram wafers, chickpeas, tamarind, mint chutney, yoghurt), Tapioca and chilli chips, Vegetable pakoras (fritters), Puri (savoury fried bread).

Each nibble was beautifully flavoured, with care and precision put into it and we had to remind ourselves not to get carried away!

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Jackfruit curry
Lamb
Saag and Dal
Squash, Aubergine

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Jackfruit in cumin and black cardamom curry is something one rarely sees on a menu and it’s something that is so divine, so utterly meaty and intense that it’s a shame more restaurants don’t cook with jackfruit.

Wine marinated lamb popsicles in turmeric fenugreek curry:  We ended up ordering extra roti so that we could wipe every last bit of gravy from the bowl till it was sparkling!

Punjabi saag paneer and dal with roti: Comfort food of the best kind!

Roasted, mashed eggplant with butternut squash and black chickpeas: I find it hard to resist anything with aubergine in it and when it has squash and black chickpeas (which by the way, are a world apart from the white chickpeas we are often overdosed with), I’d be hard pressed to find a more flavoursome vegetarian dish! Divine!

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Goat
Desserts

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Rajasthani goat with mildly spiced vegetables: Give me goat any day, anywhere, any time and this beauty here was just how I’d expect goat to be cooked!

As for desserts, we went for Gulab Jamun (caramelised milk dumplings in a spiced sugar syrup), Ras Malai (cottage cheese dumplings in a saffron pistachio sauce) and Kheer (rice pudding). Perfect ending – well made traditional Indian desserts without any fuss or pretention.

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To put it simply, Vij’s ranks right up there with some of London’s finest Indian restaurants, there is no two ways about it!

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Recommend you go: 9

Food: 9

Website
Vij's on Urbanspoon

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