Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vancouver: Vij's and Poutine - Day 2

Generally on these trips, there really isn't one restaurant that is a "must" for me but Vij's in Vancouver was a totally different story. Constantly hailed by critic as perhaps the best Indian in North America, I knew I had to check this place out and since I don't think I'll be coming back to Vancouver for awhile, I was determined.

Now, Vij's is a celebrated 60-seat restaurant in Vancouver, and many celebrated chefs or food personalities have stopped at Vij's to sample their Indian & Western fusion cuisine. Not really your typical traditional Indian restaurant, Vij's focuses on using local ingredients with Indian spices and herbs to make these delicious dishes. What's even more amazing is that the kitchen is an all-female staff!!

1480 W 11th Ave
Vancouver, BC V6H 1L1

Outside the small restaurant. We got there at 7:30pm and there was still a 1 hour wait.

Menu (click to enlarge). Yes, it is fine dining and quite pricey considering CAD is strong now. You generally order family style.

Decided to go for a class of wine so I went for the Torres Iberico Roja which was great with all the protein and was strong enough not to be masked by the strong spices. Quite spicy.

While you are waiting, they bring out several bite size pieces of hors d'oeuvres for you to nibble on. I have NO IDEA what they are but after each bite, I was getting more excited about the food here since they were so good. This was the only one I managed to get a picture of since I totally forgot about taking pictures of them. Don't know what it is but it is fried and there is lentils. Maybe their version of a lentil pakoras?

First up, beef short ribs braised in yogurt, fenugreek, and cumin curry. I'm a big big fan of cumin so as soon as I had my first bite, I couldn't stop. It's tender and not too fatty. When it's all done, I just took some naan and scooped out as much of the remaining curry as I could. Too good.

Saag paneer with lentil curry and chapati. Waiter said it is the most traditional dish on the menu. The spinach and paneer cheese combination is absolutely fantastic. Very creamy. Lentil curry reminded me of a spiced up version of veggie chili and perfect with the chapati (naan look alike).

Lamb popsicles. This is actually their most famous dish. They are marinated in wine, in fenugreek cream curry with tumeric & spinach potatoes. It just may be the best lamb I've had in North America. Usually I hate the gaminess of lamb but I did not care one bit since the sauces and spices work so well together. Loved it so much that I started to gnaw on the bones :P

Samosas stuffed with lamb & beef sauteed in fennel, cloves, and sumac. Uh... more please? An already great crispy samosa then made even better with the refreshing chutney it comes with.

Delicious naan.

Basmati rice. Nice a fan long long grain rice usually but they did something to it...

Of course, always room for dessert. It's mango-pistachio ice cream, and it even comes with edible silver. Silver is a little gimmicky but it's creamy and manga & pistachio are great together. (sorry for the horrible focus. boo)

Galub jamuns. It is sorta like... an Indian donut ball. Probably the same size as your typical donut balls but extremely dense and sweet so you definitely can't eat too much of it.

Overall I loved the complexity and the flavors of the dishes. Now I understand why there is all this hype surrounding Vij's. I was never that big of a fan of Indian food since I've had quite a few bad experiences including food poisoning, and even though Vij's is a fusion of Indian and Western cuisine, I am now convinced that I must give Indian cuisine a second chance.


That same night, after checking out a few more places in Vancouver, we decided to grab some poutine fries, which is a favorite among Canadians as a late night snack or after drinking. It's pretty much San Diego's carne asada fries equivalent.

Fritz European Fry House
718 Davie St
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1B6

Amanda took us to Fritz, which is a famous poutine spot in DT Vancouver.

The menu! You can get poutine or just regular fries with dipping sauces.

We went for the poutine fries, which comes with their special awesome gravy and melted cheese curds. It is... freaking good. Savory, salty, and satisfying. Too bad we didn't eat it while it was fresh since we brought it back to our hotel but even then, the fries holds up well against the delicious gravy. The cheese curds adds some creaminess without the usual overpowering flavor of cheese. No wonder Fritz had constant traffic even on a cold rainy night.

I don't think gravy will replace my favorite topping of carne asada for fries but it is not far behind. It is time for me to hunt for a legit poutine spot in LA... Poutine fries adventure anybody? :]


S.O.F.A.T. Blog said...

Poutine adventure please!