Oh how I hate lineups. I hate lining up at the border (I got Nexus now, so not big deal), lining up at any Government office, lining up at Stupidstore, lining up at Costco, lining up at the PNE, lining up at the airport, lining up for Dim Sum, and I even hated lining up at the hospital to get a room when our son was born. I HATE LINES! So, that's why it's taken me so long to actually go eat at Vij's. They do not take reservations at Vij's and if you aren't the first wave of diners at 5:30pm, you could be waiting for over an hour. Finally, I couldn't hold out no more, I needed to eat there. With Viv still stuck doing report cards, TS (eating_club Vancouver), Vandelay, Donna Chang and Whipping Girl join me in this lineup to get into Vij's. Right at 5:30pm, Vikram Vij opens the door and greets those who were in line. Almost if it were planned, we were directed to a seat right at the entrance and near a window. Light! Great for pictures!
Shortly after we were seated, the complimentary appies and chai came around. Usually, if you are in the lineup, you get these little treats. We got to try 3 appies - Pakora, Cassava Fries and Puris. We spent quite a bit of time trying to decide what to eat, especially TS. She even asked Vikram personally what she should order (the Sablefish or the Pork Loin). Being the experienced restaurateur that he is, he asked TS what she had for lunch. TS sheepishly replied that she had pork chops for lunch. We all burst out laughing, including Vikram, realizing that was a rhetorical question. TS ordered the sablefish. TS and I decided to order one spoon each of the Punjabi Heart Attack. Each spoon had a generous helping of spicy cashews, raw sugar, paneer and ghee. For me, it was like eating dessert before my meal; but that was a good thing. It was delicious and buttery sweet. TS thought it was very good. It wasn't spicy, but definitely very rich-tasting from all those ingredients. It came served with a quinoa salad with lemon dressing to counteract the richness with something lighter-tasting and more refreshing. We also got the Jackfruit in black cardamom and cumin masala as a starter. We were surprised that it was a completely savoury and spicy dish. The jackfruit resembled artichokes in this preparation and it was a delight to eat. TS thought it was just "okay".
I love lamb, it's such a delicious meat. I don't really get to eat it much since Viv doesn't like it. Of course when I have the opportunity, I will order lamb, and this time was no exception. The Wine Marinated Lamb Popsicles in fenugreek cream curry on turmeric spinach potatoes are to die for. The lamb is super tender and combined with the curry, the dish comes alive. It's a bit spicy, but is tempered by the cream and the potatoes. TS had the Marinated and Grilled Sablefish with grilled zucchini in Mango Reduction. In the words of TS: the unctuous nature of the sablefish (or black cod) is precisely what I don't like about it, but in this case, it was complemented perfectly by the mango reduction sauce. The sauce was slightly sweet, yet very multi dimensional in flavor, with a nice balance of spices giving it a general warmth. The dish also came with both grilled zucchini and grilled asparagus.
Donna Chang had the Beef Tenderloin with almonds & garlic in tomato and yogurt curry. Vandelay had the Duck Breast marinated in ground mustard seed and ginger paste with sauteed yellow/green zucchini. Quoting Vandelay: The duck breast curry had a strong depth of flavor, not spicy but the hints of ginger finished off the sauce very well. The duck breast was a little bit overdone, but was seasoned very well. Of all the dishes had that night, the beef tenderloin was the most subtle in flavor and taste. Compared to the other dishes, the tomato and yogurt curry was not as bold, but the flavors were well balanced, and what was surprising was the addition of blueberries which added a nice texture to the curry. However, the beef was not as tender as I would have liked it.
Now in the words of Whipping Girl who had the Braised Short Ribs in cinnamon and red wine curry with warm greens. My first thought was, holy $#!T, how am I going to finish it, it’s huge!!! Next thought, it smells so good, dammit Sherman, you better be quick with the photo opt, I’m hungry! The meat was cooked perfectly, being very flavorful and tender. The curry itself was bold and rich. From the description of the dish, I was expecting the curry to be more cinnamon in flavor, but it was more of a tomato sauce with a kick of heat and loaded with lots of different spices. All the different flavors melded very well together. I really enjoyed the dish; in fact I enjoyed it so much that I took the last piece of naan and sopped up the last bit of curry.
Each entree included unlimited naan and rice; however I thought the naan was not as fluffy as I prefer. So it looks like a home run for Vij's according to everyone at the meal. Compared to the Indian food I normally have, Vij's adds a definite "je ne sais quois" to every dish. Moreover, Vikram Vij is very much interested in pleasing each and every one of his guests. It is both worth the cost and the wait to experience the food and ambiance at Vij's
- Vikram Vij is a gracious host
- Portions were good
- A unique twist on Indian cuisine
- Long lineup (but you do get complimentary appies)
- Naan was a bit stiff