I like to think of myself as a bit of an Indian food snob. Having tasted some fabulous food in England, both from India and Bangladesh, I find the food in the states lacking. I’m not quite sure what is wrong with it, but it never tastes as good as what I get overseas. I have even had fabulous Indian food in Munich. So I was hoping to replicate my experience in Vancouver, and I did.
We dropped in at about 2:30 in the afternoon, too late for lunchtime and too early for dinner. The lunch menu was still in effect so I ordered the curry special, hot. Al is not a big fan of ethnic food of any type except Italian so it took a little convincing on my part to get him here. I also convinced him to let me order for him since even he admits I know what he will like better than he does. One thing I know for sure is he doesn’t like heat so I needed to get a mild sauce. They offered beef korma shahi ( I know, this surprised me too) in a mild yogurt and thick cream sauce with almonds and exotic spices; sounded safe to me.
They had an excellent selection of beers both domestic and imported. It was a hard decision because it’s not everyday that we get to drink Indian beer, but we went with the Granville Island Cypress Honey Lager. Our meal began with some papadum, which is a spiced lentil cracker, and a sampling of raita and mango chutney. The dips were both cooling and burning, an amazing blending of tastes. We were very glad for our pint of lager to put out the fire.
My curry was so hot, my nose dripped - it was wonderful and it was served with chaati, rice pilau, and chutney. As good as mine was, Al’s was outstanding. The beef was fork tender and the sauce, oh that sauce, it was so good I ended up putting some of it on my rice. Really exceptional.
The atmosphere was typical with hanging lamps and pictures of what I would describe as the Kama Sutra with clothing. The tables are close and I would imagine it would be noisy when filled, but I highly recommend that you give this restaurant a try, you won’t be disappointed.
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Vancouver, British Columbia, Afghanistan
April 17, 2005
The night began with reservations. When we arrived, the restaurant had evidently ignored any prior bookings, as we were shoved in a corner against a wall, with no room to swing a elbow, never mind a cat. NOT only this, but people before us who had no reservation were shown to a comfy table for four, despite there being only two of them.
Not to mind, as we were here for food, not for comfort. After waiting an hour, our main dishes arrived. I had a tandoori garlic chicken tikka, with my partner opting for the basic chicken curry. My dish was mediocre at best and quite bland in flavour, though acceptable. My partner's curry, however, was terrible. It was paltry commercial-grade chicken, stringy, fatty, and not properly cooked, in a lame and bland sauce.
This is not the main gripe, though. Despite us and the two nearest tables all complaining to the waitress about the quality of the food, the response was to be told that "well, no one else has complained," as if our THREE tables were not worthy of complaining (let alone the Indian family who had wisely departed after just their starters). The manager was not in that night, so the head waitress fielded our complaints. Not once did she offer an apology, instead sneering at us incredulously because we had the bottle to complain.
Coming form England originally, and with many Indian, Bengali, and Sri Lankan friends, we are not strangers to the food of the subcontinent. And I can categorically state that this was THE WORST INDIAN FOOD I HAVE EVER HAD THE MISFORTUNE TO TASTE.
What is more, the service was THE WORST OF ANY RESTAURANT I HAVE BEEN TO IN MY LIFE, REGARDLESS OF COUNTRY, PRICE, OR TYPE OF FOOD.
From journal Where not to eat in Vancouver: A Debacle of India
October 5, 2004
From journal Eating My Way Through Vancouver