Sherman's Food Adventures: Inchin's Bamboo Garden

Inchin's Bamboo Garden

We are so fortunate in Vancouver to have such a variety of Asian cuisine.  In particular, we probably have the best Cantonese food in the world (I find it better here than Hong Kong!).  However, there are still certain Asian cuisines that are poorly represented.  One of which is Indo-Chinese food.  Now, before some of you start crying about fusion food, this is an actual thing.  There used to be a substantial Chinese population in Kolkata where we found the origins of said cuisine. 

One of the newer spots for that in town is Inchin's Bamboo Garden that sports 26 locations in North American including the newly opened Surrey-Fleetwood store.  We were invited to give the place a try and wow, they put a lot of effort into creating an inviting dine-space that combines both traditional and modern elements.  They also sport a cocktail menu that is both extensive and interesting.  We were able to sample a variety that were fruity and delicious.

Onto the food, we began with the Shrimp Pepper Salt which is reminiscent of the Cantonese dish that wok tosses fried shrimp in pepper, salt, chilis and onions.  This one featured a gluten-free batter that was crunchy.  There was enough hits of salt and pepper as well as the aromatics from the onions.  I would've liked to see more spice, but that was not the intention of this dish.

I was quite fond of the next dish, which happened to be vegetarian - Paneer Tacos.  Stuffed within a crispy shell, we found crumbled paneer. carrot. cabbage. mexican & goat cheese and sriracha ranch.  This resulted in layers of crunch including the shell and the julienned veggies.  In addition to that, there was the creaminess of the paneer to balance off the slight spice from the sriracha ranch.
Our last appie was the Steamed Momos topped with one of the 4 bottled sauces available at our table.  This one happened to be the garlic chili and it complemented the fully-stuffed momo's beautifully with some spice.  The chicken filling was rather mild, yet tender and juicy.  It needed that extra kick to make it flavourful.  I found the dumpling skin to be al dente with a medium thickness.
With the bigger plates, we were served the Black Pepper Beef with bell peppers, onion and crushed black pepper. This was kept warm with candles underneath the cast iron pan.  I found the flavour to be quite pleasant with the usual bite of black pepper and the sweetness from the onions.  It was rather saucy, so a bowl of rice was necessary.  Unlike the Cantonese version of the dish, the beef was not tenderized.  Therefore it had a natural chewiness.
From black pepper, we went to the Sweet & Sour Shrimp with mixed veggies, pineapple and strawberry.  Once again, this was very saucy and rice was necessary to compliment the dish.  The shrimp were quite large and were more in the prawn category.  They were cooked just enough where there was still a meaty snap texture.  There was also natural shrimp sweetness and aroma.  I found the sauce more sweet than sour though.
One of the sneakier dishes in terms of flavour was the Cauliflower Manchurian with cilantro, red onion, green chili and celery.  The deep fried cauliflower was on the softer side, but that meant it soaked up all of the rich flavours of the sauce.  It was bordering on salty, but once again, this should be eaten with rice.  There was depth to dish that included the combination of flavours from the other ingredients.
Another surprising item was the Chili Ginger Okra with ginger, soya sauce, vegetarian oyster sauce, wine, sesame oil, chili oil, dried red chili and green onion.  First of all, the okra wasn't overly slimy, which I appreciated.  Secondly, the sauce was quite the combination of ingredients.  This resulted in a salty and mildly spicy broth that the okra soaked up.  In addition, the ginger added sharpness while the sesame oil provided aromatics.
You've heard me keep on saying that the dishes needed to be eaten with rice and viola, we had the Burnt Garlic Chili Fried Rice.  As described in its name, there was a bevy of golden fried garlic to go with the dried chili flakes.  The result was some extreme nuttiness to go with some spice.  By virtue of using basmati rice, there were no clumps while the rice was chewy and aromatic.
We also had the Hakka Noodles with thin eggless noodles, shredded vegetables, Napa cabbage and celery.  I really enjoyed these noodles as they had a beautiful chewy texture while still being delicate.  Furthermore, there was enough seasoning for impact.  Lastly, the combination of veggies, cabbage and celery added the necessary crunch as well as some brightness (also getting veggies into my diet).
Now these dishes were all fine and dandy, but we all felt the following ones were even better starting with the Sambal Lamb with onion, celery, chili, garlic and sambal.  Served similarly as the black pepper beef, the lamb was different as in the fact it was more caramelized due to the absence of sauce.  That heightened the flavours and spices even more so.  The lamb was tender and fatty while benefiting from the spice of the sambal.
So for the purely Indian dishes, they were absolutely delicious.  We had both the Chicken Butter Masala and the Saag Paneer.  The butter chicken was super rich and thick with a noted creaminess.  There was a mild tang from the tomato paste that didn't overwhelm.  As for the other curry, there was an ample amount of tender paneer hidden within the creamy spinach with the sweetness of onion and the sharpeness of ginger.
To go with these dishes, we naturally had to order the Naan as well as the Malaysian Paratha.  If I had to choose between the two, the naan was my favourite.  It was fluffy and light while exhibiting some chewiness.  Being a completely different type of bread, it was a bit unfair to compare between the two.  It wasn't as if I didn't enjoy the paratha as it was chewy and had some crispiness on the outside.  It is just the naan soaked up the sauces nicely.

For dessert, we were served an array of fried items including the Date Wontons with ice cream, Fried Ice Cream, Chocolate Spring Rolls and Rasmalai.  Now if you are familiar with Indian desserts, you will know that they are generally on the sweeter side.  These were no exception, especially the sweet dates in the crunchy wontons.  Nothing wrong with the desserts if you enjoy sweet things, but for me, I liked the rasmalai more because it was lighter and more refreshing especially after a filling meal.  Overall, I thought the food was good, especially the Indian dishes, fried rice and noodles.
*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Beautiful decor and atmosphere
- Lots of choice on the menu ranging from Indian-Chinese to Indian to fusion
- Reasonably-priced

The Bad:
- For those trying to compare to Cantonese cuisine, it is not a good comparison as they are completely different cuisines
- Desserts were sweet, but that is how they are supposed to be


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