Sherman's Food Adventures: Dhaliwal's Lounge

Dhaliwal's Lounge

For the longest time, Asian cuisine, in particular Southern, has been seen as "inexpensive" and not worthy of fine-dining.  Slowly but surely, the tide is turning as we see more and more higher-end restaurants.  One of the newest is Dhaliwal's Lounge in the York Centre in Surrey.  Formerly Dhoom, Dhaliwal's Lounge is part of the Dhaliwal Group.  This new restaurant blends traditional Indian eats with fusion plates.  They also feature signature cocktails from their full-service bar.  I recently was invited to visit the place with Mijune.

Dining with Mijune always entails that we will destroy the menu and that we did starting with the Raj Kachori featuring a crispy fried shell, filled with potatoes, boiled moong dal, yogurts, spices, and chutneys.  I've had the smaller version of this before and for this one, there was just much more of everything.  Lots of textures at play with both crunchy and soft.  Due to the combination of chutneys and yogurt, we found tangy, sweet, spice, herbaceous and creamy.

Next, we had one of the more fusion offerings in the Barwa Paneer Arancini with crispy fried stuffed balls of paneer and dried fruit.  I wouldn't say this was exactly an arancini as there was no arboiro rice inside.  Rather it was more of a fried cheese ball.  With that being said, it was good though being crispy outside while the soft paneer was crumbled and soft.  There was a bit of sweetness provided by the dried fruit.

Staying with fried ball-like things, we were served the Brie and Chili-Stuffed Mushrooms.  These were firmly crunchy with a semi-thick outer breading.  Inside, the medium-sized mushrooms were juicy and with a slight bite.  They were stuffed with creamy brie as well as green chilis.  Hence, there was a bit of spice as well as that unmistakable flavour of barely cooked-through green chili pepper.  A drizzle of butter chicken sauce added creaminess.

One of the more under-the-radar dishes was the Angoori Tikki featuring royal cumin seed, almond, grape sauce, fresh herbs, chutneys, yogurt and chickpeas.  Naturally, this had some common flavours with the Raj Kachori but texturally it was quite different.  The soft potato had good mouth feel while the grapes were a surprise with bursts of sweetness.  Once again, we had the tang of the tamarind chutney to with the cooling of the yogurt and spice of the mint cilantro chutney.

Another successful fusion dish was the Mustard Scallops atop a potato cake and cucumber with dhaba curry sauce.  Nicely-plated, these large scallops were seared beautifully with good caramelization.  They were properly seasoned and tasted great on their own with natural sweetness.  The curry sauce offered up some spice as well as sweetness from the onions and tomatoes.  Only thing I would've liked to see was a thinner slice of cucumber.

One of my favourite appies in general is the Palak Patta Chaat.  It consists of individually battered and fried spinach leaves (yes, patience is needed when frying many leaves one-by-one!), onion, potato, peas, yogurt, green and red chutneys.  As with the Raj Kachori and Angoori Tikki, the flavours are somewhat along the same lines with tang, creaminess, sweetness and spice.  The star of the show has to be the crunchy spinach leaves.  Good texture to go with the other ingredients.

One of the best items we had, if not the best, was the Signature Chops.  These lamb rack chops were absolutely delicious.  They were moist and super tender due to the marinade.  Furthermore, the spices penetrated the meat with spice and the unmistakable aroma of toasted cumin seeds.  This was accompanied by methi aloo as well as some almond sauce on top.

Although it might sound a bit defaultish as an appie, both the Paneer and Chicken Lettuce Wraps were quite good.  Naturally, the chicken version was meatier and exhibited more depth, but the paneer still had texture and appealing spiciness.  Other than the filling, the most important item is the iceberg lettuce.  This was indeed fresh and properly dried.  I thought that possibly, they could've been cut into bigger cups though.

We also had another standard dish at most restaurants in the Chicken Wings.  These were oven-roasted where the meat was still tender and moist.  Even though they were not fried, the skin was fairly rendered albeit not crispy.  We decided to try two flavours including honey garlic and buffalo.  Aggressively-sauced, the honey garlic was intensely sweet and garlicky.  We found the buffalo wings to have noticeable heat while the amount of sauce was just right.

Another fusion dish of sorts was the Pista and Coconut Crusted Salmon with malabar sauce.  I found the preparation of this dish to be quite good where the fish featured crispy seasoned skin.  The fish itself was flaky and moist.  Naturally, the sauce was a very important component of this dish and it came through with the creaminess of coconut milk, spice, earthiness and a touch of acidity.

The most grandoise thing we had was the Cornish Murg Musallam consisting of a whole Cornish game hen marinated in ginger-garlic paste, stuffed with mince chicken and rich cashew curry.  The hen was super tender including the breast.  It was also flavourful from the marinade as well as the creamy curry.  This was so much food, it would be hard for even two people to finish it if there were more dishes.

Onto some more main dishes, we were served the Goat Razala featuring a yogurt and masala curry.  I really enjoyed this as there was a plethora of meaty and tender goat.  For those who haven't had goat before, think of it as a bonier and slightly more lean form of lamb.  Hence, some pieces have that gelatinous texture you find with lamb.  In terms of flavour, this was on the spicier side which was fine by me.

Next up, we had the Kukkad Makhni aka Delhi-style butter chicken.  This was really rich and creamy with a nice balancing tomato tang.  It was muted though due to the richness of the curry due to the addition of cashews.  The big chunks of dark meat chicken was tender and meaty where it was flavourful from the original marinade.  Really enjoyed this as it also had a minor kick to it.

So possibly the richest dish we had was the Dal Bukhara where we could taste the copious amounts of ghee and cream used. It went well the naan we had, but yah, best to share this.  Also rather creamy, the Methi Malai Paneer featured crumbled paneer in a cashew cream sauce.  This was rather aromatic and had quite a bit of body and depth for a vegetarian dish.  I would say this would go well with some basmati rice. 

Continuing on with the vegetarian items, we had the Vegetable Manchurian as well as the Soya Bhuna Masala.  Sporting Chinese-type flavours, the Veg Manchurian featured carrot, cauliflower and bell peppers.  The combination of ginger, garlic, soya sauce and tomato sauce elicited a tangy saltiness.  As for the soya chaap, it was typical with a chewy meatiness while being smoky and bathed in a flavourful masala curry.

As mentioned, we had some starch in the form of the Bread Basket that included Garlic Naan, Tandoori Roti, Butter Naan, Choor Choor Naan and Missi Roti.  Loved the naan, in particular the Choor Choor.  It was chewy with elasticity while having a nicely blistered exterior.  We also had the Kulcha stuffed with potato and spices.  It was soft had the creaminess of potatoes.  As you can see, we had a tonne of food.  We enjoyed the presentation as well as the flavours and preparation.  Loved the dining room as well as the overall atmosphere.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Modern and inviting
- Solid eats
- Lots of beverages available including signature cocktails

The Bad:
- Can be viewed as pricey compared to typical Indian restaurants, but is more comparable to places like Tasty and Yellow Chili


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