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In a state of hibernation. My backlog has long become unsustainable. Will probably tweet more and write less full-length stuff.

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Tuesday
Dec132005

Vij's

vijs.jpg
Alright guys, I've had my 2 week Arthur Hungry vacation and I'm ready to get started on the big stack of photos I've got sitting here. I'll quickly finish off my remaining summer posts from Vancouver and SF, and the Sydney stuff should begin in less than a week. Next up is a meal at Vij's, a stylish modern Indian restaurant in Vancouver. The place has a first-come first-serve walk-ins only system, and apparently is full every night. We tried to go earlier in my trip at around 7 and there was a 2+ hour wait. I wanted to try it pretty badly, so this time we showed up very early, and got a table during the second round at about 6:30 or so. Let me just say that I'm very much against the no reservation system. I guess the idea is that they want to get their lounge area booming with activity as people wait for their tables. It's a system that I encountered a couple of times in Australia as well. It seems to work for them though - I guess there are plenty of customers willing to wait all night to eat. Personally, I hate waiting, and would rather deal with difficult reservations.

I do like seeing these restaurants that have modern takes on different Asian cuisines that are popping up all over the world. You see it a lot with Vietnamese in SF (Slanted Door, Le Colonial), Thai in Sydney (I'll post about a few soon), and of course Japanese all over the place. I expect to see a lot more new restaurants that do modern Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, SE Asian, etc. in the coming years. It will be interesting to see if Chinese food can make a similar evolution, and emerge from its reputation as takeout food. This is a common topic of conversation at my dinner tables... Anyway, back to Vij's. We did have to wait a while, and they have a sitting area/lounge in the back where you can eat some snacks and order drinks. I got their special ginger-lemon drink which was actually quite tasty. And the snacks...

free chaat in the lounge I don't really know anything about chaat, but I do know there is a huge, varying range of Indian snacks and stuff. I unfortunately haven't really tried many. If chaat is always as good as this hot, flaky, doughy little morsel, I look forward to trying a lot more. The only good thing about waiting in the lounge was eating 3-4 of these babies.

sauteed rapini and spinach with paneer and roasted cashews - C$9.5 By the time we got to the table, we knew what we wanted. The menu is divided into apps, veggie mains, and meat mains. With 4 people, we ended up getting 4 apps, 1 veggie, and 2 non-veggies. First to arrive was this spinach/cheese dish. The flavor was milder than it looks. The spinach was actually still in whole pieces, unlike in palak paneer. The cheese is buried under everything else but was nice and crumbly. A decent dish.

quail cakes with celeriac puree - C$10 This dish was great. The cakes held their shape pretty well, but the quail meat was still chunky and tasty. the mint sauce and corn went great. The celeriac puree was refreshing, and balanced out the frying.

naan A round of naan came about now. You actually get a round of it for the apps and a fresh round for the mains. It was thicker and breadier than most naan I've had, but very nicely toasted. And buttery! Great for picking up sauces.

mutton kebabs with Vij's masala curry - C$10.5 Nice, gamey, meaty flavor. The curry wasn't hot but had plenty of spices going on. I'd be keen to try a nice big order of masala curry at next-door Vij's Rangoli, the cheaper, casual portion of the Vij's operation.

striped bass seared in whole spices and curry leaves with sour cream curry - C$10.5 This slightly sour curry was probably my favorite curry of the night. The fish had a nice crispy edge that went well with the sauce.

green beans, cauliflower and new potato curry with ricotta couscous cakes - C$19 For balance's sake, we opted for one of the veggie curries. I much preferred the green beans and cauliflower in this. I didn't feel like we needed the potatoes and couscous cakes, given the naan and rice that came. Too much starchy stuff. The curry, though quite thin, still packed a lot of taste.

duck breast and coconut-green chilli rice pilaf in lime leaf curry - C$23 Of all the dishes, this struck me as the most Western-tasting. The duck was nice and tender. The sauce was more salty than the others, which made it a good accompaniment for rice.

halibut, mussels and baby carrots in tomato, light cream curry with eggplant-potato tikki and raw sugar candied walnuts - C$25 This item sounded the most interesting to me on the menu. To my surprise, it had a lot more stuff than the description listed, such as prawns and extra veggies. The sauce was very thin and had a light, subtle flavor. The whole thing sorta reminded me of a really strange bouillabaisse. All of the seafood was very good - I'd be happy to order it again.

mango khulfee ice cream - C$7 This ice cream was alright. I liked the nutty mango taste, but it was a bit icey and not creamy enough for my taste.

rice pudding - C$7 I think this was an almond flavoured rice pudding, but I can't remember if I got the right nut. This was certainly the better dessert though. Smooth, silky, and slightly sweet.

In the end, I thought we had a great meal. I don't know if it was great enough to wait two hours for though. I must admit I know very little about Indian food, so I wouldn't be able to tell you how authentic the stuff is. It was certainly good though, and if you're looking to eat at 5:30 in Vancouver, it would be a good spot to go if you can make it before the crowd hits.

Reader Comments (7)

Auahghghgh, Indian food. That all looks so good. I think I just saw that place featured on Food Network.

If I may ask, what's up with what looks like aluminum foil on your desserts?
Wednesday, December 14, 2005 at 1:35AM | Unregistered CommenterFinch
Sounds like you had a good meal! I love Vij's and it's usually my first stop when I'm in Vancouver. Next time try the lamb 'Popsicles'... they're divine.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005 at 9:59AM | Unregistered Commentermegwoo
The foil is called "varak" and is a fine thin edible silver foil used to decorate or garnish Indian desserts. It has been known to aid in digestion. Sometimes you'll see gold foil used too.
Thursday, December 15, 2005 at 5:04AM | Unregistered CommenterSaabKen
The food looks great.
Monday, December 19, 2005 at 11:54PM | Unregistered CommenterJane
Yeah - I forgot to mention the foil. Looks like SK has the answer. I've definitely seen gold foil used before; I think this is the first time I've seen silver.

Meg, I'm going back to Vancouver soon... hopefully I'll have a chance.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 12:03PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Che
it doesn't get better than Vij's in Vancouver. The owner Vikram opened a casual joint next door to Vij's called Rangoli. You must check it out if you haven't already!
Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 5:08PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip
Actually, I just tried Rangoli while I was there over Christmas - loved it.
Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 12:47PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Che

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