Sunday, June 3

Vij's

Joined by Tennille, Mike, Ian and I arrived just before 5pm and waited in line until the opening at 5:30. Note: Vij's doesn't take reservations. We spent our time examining the menu and were served lovely chai tea and pakoras. Photos were taken of every dish and my impressions follow.

Chai. Served medium hot, not too milky, balanced flavours and not too much cardamom. Sometimes I think that chai spiced predominately by cardamom is a cop out. Just like the garam masala you buy at grocery stores made primarily with cumin is a cop out.

Lemon-ginger drink. Ginger and lemon juice mixed with soda water. Homemade ginger-ale. Wicked.

Jackfruit in black cardamom and cumin masala. We shared this appetizer. The jackfruit reminded us of artichokes and the black cardamom had an awesome smoky flavour.

Garam masala sautéed portobello mushrooms in porcini cream curry. I love mushrooms so this dish didn't disappoint. There was quite a bit of sauce and if Tennille and Mike hadn't been there, I would have lapped it all up using our never-ending naan supply.

Naan and rice. I really appreciate that Vij's doesn't charge for rice and naan. We probably consumed about 4-5 plates of naan and one bowl of rice. The naan was quite thin and buttered a little too much for my tastes. However, it was served hot and was essential for lapping up the delicious sauces that accompanied each dish.

Saag paneer with zucchini fritters in masala. This was Mike's dish. If I remember correctly, he enjoyed the spinach and would like to try it served as a dip. The fritters were proclaimed a little dry, but once slathered in the masala, greatly improved.

Spice-crusted tilapia with black chickpeas and yam curry. Tennille's dish. From the little bit that I tried, I thought the crust was a little too tough, although the fish was very tender. I didn't really get a chance to focus on the curry.

Demerara sugar and tamarind marinated been tenderloin with black cumin curry and khoa paranta. Ian's dish. Tender beef, slightly tough paranta, delicious curry.

Wine marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry on spinach potatoes. My dish; also one of the signature dishes. I am still dreaming of this dish, and thankfully, have found the recipe directly out of the Vij's cookbook. The lamb was melt-in-my-mouth perfect, potatoes had a good texture and the fenugreek curry was to die for (except that it wasn't served piping hot which would have been even better). This summer I'll get ahold of some lamb and try this at home.

All three of us had dessert. Mike had kheer (rice pudding), Ian had gulab jamun (dough balls) and Tennille and I had kulfi (ice-cream, sort of). All three desserts were topped with cardamom seeds and silver leaf.

Kulfi. One serving would have been enough for Tennille and myself to share as we were quite full after the meal. Delicious pistachio and cardamom flavour.

Kheer.

Gulab Jamun. Soft texture, not too greasy. Syrup was very sweet. Often we get these with a milk sauce, so the syrup was a pleasant change.

We had been waiting a long time to eat here and were not disappointed. Other than a few minor details (temperature of some sauces, toughness of paranta), the food and service was excellent and met our high expectations. I will definitely eat here again.

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