Sherman's Food Adventures: Spice Club Indian Cuisine

Spice Club Indian Cuisine

It seems like there are a whole lot of new Indian Restaurants (predominantly Punjabi cuisine) opening up these days.  There are a couple of things they have in common though.  Firstly, they are located in Surrey in and around Scott Road.  This is no surprise as Scott Road is the Indian equivalent to #3 Road in Richmond (in terms of Chinese food) and North Road in Coquitlam (in terms of Korean food).  Secondly, they are much more bougie with beautiful decor and usually a fancy bar.  One of the newest is Spice Club Indian Cuisine, you guessed it, on Scott Road at 96th.  This used to be the location of Mehfil Indian Buffet, which closed many years ago.

We were invited to try the place out and for our first starter, it was definitely fusion with the Indian-style Nachos.  To be honest, I wasn't expecting very much from this, but it completely blew me away.  The bed of tortilla chips were evenly topped with ooey gooey melted cheese, crispy papdi, spicy paneer, beans, onion-tomato salsa, yogurt, cilantro chutney and sweet chutney.  The combination of cheese, spice, sweetness and creaminess was addictive and we dusted this off quickly.  We could've done with another order but there was more food to come.  Texturally, the chips were crunchy while the amount of toppings made every chip fulfilling.

One of my personal favourite starter dishes is the Fish Pakora and the version here was exactly how I like it.  The fairly big chunks of fish were moist and flaky.  They were coated with a well-seasoned batter that was light and crispy.  There was enough seasoning that these could be eaten by themselves without any other condiments (however, it did come with green chutney).  The flavours were a bit spicy, some earthiness and sweetness.

Another really good dish was the Chicken Momos that were deep-fried and served with red chili chutney and tomato chutney.  I really enjoyed these as the dumpling skin was fairly thin and lightly crispy with an appealing elasticity.  Inside, the chicken filling was savoury and somewhat zesty.  It had some spice and sweetness while the texture was moist and tender while being a bit loose.  Loved dipping this into the tomato chutney as it was creamy, sweet and aromatic.  The red chili chutney had more spice and was also tangy with some sweetness.

We had 2 more starters in the Golgappa and the Butter Chicken Poutine.  Served on a long metal plate, the puri were ready for us to puncture a hole into.  We filled it with the side of potato and chickpeas first and then poured in the theeka pani and khatta meetha pani.  I personally love the khatta meetha pani due to the use of sweet and tangy tamarind extract.  However, the mintiness of the theeka pani was good too.  As for the butter chicken poutine, it featured starch-covered fries (appeared to be Cavandish) that were crispy and held up well with the creamy butter chicken sauce.  I found the sauce quite balanced with equal parts creaminess, tanginess and sweetness.

Since we couldn't decide on which item we wanted from the tandoor, we had the Tandoori Mix Platter as well as the Tandoori Prawns for good measure.  The mix included chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, seekh kabab and tandoori fish.  I thought this was well-prepared with large pieces of meat that were nicely-charred and flavourful from the marinade.  The chicken was tender and moist while the fish was flaky.  The seekh kabab was also moist with plenty of flavour including the usual earthiness from the cumin.  As for the prawns they were meaty with a snap texture while lightly charred on the outside.

We then ordered a good mix of mains that included some vegetarian items including the Eggplant Bharta.  I don't get to order this enough, but it is one of my favourite dishes as I love eggplant.  This one was prepared well with tender cooked-down eggplant that was tasty with the sweetness of onion, tang from tomato and a background smokiness.  Of course we also got ginger and garlic notes as well as a touch of spice.  
Jess decided to order the Dal Makni and honestly I have a love-hate relationship with this dish.  I love the buttery creaminess of the sauce (due to the use of butter, cream and ghee) as it goes wonderfully with garlic naan.  However, it is so rich and sinful.  This one here was all that and was delicious.  It had background spice and earthiness as well as the natural sweetness.  The lentils were tender and delicate without being too soft.

We also had the classic Palak Paneer and this was textbook.  It featured tender cubes of paneer bathed in a smooth spinach sauce that had the usual garlicky gingery notes as well as some spice and sweetness.  Sticking with the same main ingredient, we went for the Paneer Tikka Masala as well.  However, this was completely different not only because of the sauce, but since the paneer was cut up into bigger pieces, the texture was firmer with more body.  In terms of the sauce, it was tangy with good spice and a touch of smokiness.  Even though it was rich in its own way, it had bright flavours.

Onto the non-veg, we had the classic Butter Chicken with a pat of melting butter on top for good measure.  Since we already had this with the poutine, we had an idea of how it tasted already.  However, since we were eating this with naan and rice, it ate completely differently.  With more of the sauce, I could see that it was even more flavourful than in the poutine.  It really was balanced with plenty of creaminess, tanginess and sweetness.  There was a touch of spice and of course the earthiness of cumin as well as gingery notes.  They used chicken thighs here and it was tender and in large chunks.

If it were me, I would've ordered a lot more lamb, but we only had one in the Lamb Curry.  This featured fairly tender cubes of lamb where some were a touch dry.  The curry itself was pretty concentrated with strong fall spice notes such as cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.  Hence, this had considerable body and earthiness.  There was also a cooked-down tomatoness to the curry where it was not sharp tangy, but tangy with depth.  I believe that this was reduced to the point where the salt content was a bit higher than the rest of the curries we had.  It wasn't a huge problem since we were eating it with naan and rice.

One of the table favourites was the Coconut Chicken that featured chicken breast that had been fried first.  Hence, the chicken was still plenty tender and moist even though it was sitting in a hot (temperature-wise) coconut sauce.  About that sauce, it was aromatic due to the coconut but it also featured honey, lime juice, garlic, ginger and asian sweet chilli sauce.  Therefore, it had many different layers of flavour including sweet, tangy and some spice.  Yet all of this was muted due to the creaminess of the dish.  Went well with rice.

Trying to get a variety of proteins, we had the Masala Fish cooked with coriander seeds, cloves, nutmeg, cassia, cardamom and spices.  This had a surprising amount of spiciness, but that was completely welcomed due to the mildness of the protein.  The fish itself was in large chunks like the pakora.  It was equally flaky and moist.  With all of the spices listed on the menu description, the cloves and nutmeg came through giving the dish a fall-type flavour profile.  Of course, the coriander added the usual earthiness while the onions provided sweetness.

For our carbs, we had Cumin Basmati Rice as well as Green Pea Pulao Rice (not pictured).  They were nicely textured and mild, perfect for being the blank canvas.  However, we also wanted a flavoured rice in the form of the Prawn Biryani.  This was also texturally on point with a dry chewiness, yet at the same time having enough moisture.  It was flavourful with a touch of heat and benefited from the slight brininess of the prawns.  Once again, due to the ingredients, there was a fall-type earthiness to the dish as well as some nuttiness.

For our breads, we got both the Butter Naan and the Garlic Naan.  These were fluffy on the inside with a nice chew with elasticity.  On the outside, it was crispy and nutty with plenty of butteriness.  Although not evident on the topside of the naan, the bottom (portion that is slapped on the surface of the tandoor) was beautifully charred.  As for the garlic naan, there was plenty of fresh garlic to give it delicious aromatics.

Onto dessert, we chose the Gajar Halwa,
Kulfi Bar and the Cheesecake Trio (more on that later).  Absolutely loved the warm shredded carrots of the gajar halwa.  They were texturally appealing (cooked-down, but not mushy) and was purposefully sweet with cardamom notes.  As for the kulfi bar and ice cream, it was pretty sweet, but had the classic flavours of cardamom and pistachios.
Our last dessert was the Cheesecake Trio consisting of
Chocolate, Mango Lassi and Red Velvet.  I loved the mango lassi the most as I have a bias towards fruitier things.  However, this was just sweet enough and tasted like its namesake.  The chocolate was quite rich, but smooth and also just sweet enough.  Red velvet featured some cake at the bottom underneath a semi-rich cheesecake cream with 2 cubes of cheesecake on top.  As you can see, we tried a boatload of dishes and it was a delight to see nearly all of them were on point with a few surprises.  I really didn't think the nachos would work, but I loved them.  The curries were on point as well as the starches.  Solid eats, good portions and reasonable prices considering the whole package.  Spice Club Indian Cuisine is another excellent addition to the food scene on Scott Road.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Nice decor
- Reasonable pricing

The Bad:
- A few items were a bit salty, but they go with starches anyways


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