Curry · Fusion · Indian · Restaurants

Masala Bhavan

On Saturday night, L suggested that we go out for Indian food. I make Indian food at home, so I never see the need to go out for it. However, as L rarely requests to dine anywhere, I obliged. Due to the wintry roads, I told him to find a restaurant near us. He picked Masala Bhavan. For this post, let’s listen to “Jai Ho”.

When we arrived at 6:00 p.m., the restaurant was less than a quarter full.  Within half an hour, the room filled up with customers and Skip the Dishes drivers.

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We ordered two Rani beers (Minhas Brewery, $5.50), Cauliflower 65 ($7.95), Tikka Masala ($14.95), Biryani Chicken ($14.95), and Butter Naan ($2.75). My pen pal Bruce K recommended that I tell the chef I like full flavours in order to get the best of what he or she has to offer.

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Our appetizer was yummy. The thin, crispy batter on the cauliflower had a medium spice to it. Though it was deep-fried, the cauliflower wasn’t greasy.

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Cauliflower 65 reminded me Leopold’s Tavern’s cauliflower hot wings, but better because of the deeper flavour profile. The mint sauce added a pop of flavour and cooled down the heat. A squirt of lemon juice gave the deep-fried cauliflower a zing to it.

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Our server said the chef didn’t hold back with the spices in the tikka masala. The boneless chicken was enveloped in a thick, spicy infused tomato sauce. The chicken was so hot, I could feel myself start to perspire.

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The biryani came with raita, a yogurt based  sauce, as well as a side of eggplant curry. When our server lifted the lid, we could smell a waft of cinnamon and nutmeg. The fluffy rice was fragrant, studded with onions and spices. There were three pieces of bone-in chicken. The meat was juicy and moist. This was a noticeable heat to this dish as well.

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The eggplant was soft and smokey. The tomato and onion sauce was tart and tangy from the tamarind. The eggplant was a nice change from the heat of the tikka chicken and the aromatic biryani. I’d order this again.

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The raita was refreshing and light. The dip tasted like it was yogurt based with cucumber and something else that was  crunchy.

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The naan was good, but there were some parts of it that were a bit too thick and doughy for my taste. Side note – my buddy Veronica gets irritated when people call naan – “naan bread”. She says it’s the same as saying, “Pass the bread bread.” She also says not to say “chai tea” because chai means tea.

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The portions were generous. L and I were so full, we ended up taking more than half of the biryani home. With three beers, one appetizer, two mains and a twenty percent tip, the bill came up to $70. That’s a wicked deal for all that deliciousness we consumed.

Before checking out Masala Bhavan, I thought I did a decent job cooking Indian food. After eating here, I realize my food isn’t nearly good as I thought it was. I was planning on preparing Indian food for an upcoming dinner party, but I think I’ll stick to what I know – Chinese hot pot.

Masala Bhavan Indian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Indian · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Rangoli

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I met my friend Jaime at Rangoli for lunch. I’ve eaten at Rangoli a few times before and I found the food consistently delicious. I particularly enjoy the vegetarian dishes, which I think are tastier than the meat options.

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Jaime ordered a chai tea and I ordered a Jongleur beer from Strange Fellows Brewery ($7). I liked the spice and orange notes, which paired well with the curries we ordered.

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Jaime and I shared two dishes: Portobello Mushroom and Red Pepper Curry on Paneer ($17) and the Grilled Eggplant with Basmati risotto ($18).

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The paneer on the eggplant was subtle. I really liked the char taste of the grilled eggplant. The creamy coconut curry sauce was delicious. The toasted pumpkin seeds gave the dish a little crunch.

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Of the two dishes, the Portobello Curry was my favourite. The beet salad had a nice tartness to it and I loved the crunchy texture. The red peppers were sweet. The sauce creamy and spicy and went so well with the silky, meaty mushrooms.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about our lunch was the service. Our server was curt to us from the beginning of the meal right up to the end. Though we were there for less than an hour, he made it clear that he wanted to turn the table, despite the fact I had beer left in my glass. I’m a fast eater and drinker too. Normally I wouldn’t make a big deal about this but isn’t this Vij’s restaurant? He is the king of hospitality. I would expect this service from a cash only, no frills Chinese restaurant, not a restaurant from Vij. In any case, the food is delicious. Hitting the Sauce gives the food at Rangoli two fat thumbs up.

Rangoli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Comfort food · Curry · Fusion · Indian

The Himalayan – Going away dinner

Beep Beep had to head back to Vancouver. For her last supper in Cowtown, I wanted something close to my house, and something hot and filling to warm us from the cold weather. The Himalayan fit the bill.

Based on our server’s recommendation, we ordered the Kathmadnu Vegetables ($14) Himalayan Eggplant ($14.50), Mango Fruity Shrimp ($16.50), and the Butter Chicken ($16.50). Our server said two dishes would do, but I wanted to take the leftovers for my husband, who was again, working late.

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I’m surprised to say I enjoyed the vegetarian dishes the most. Did you hear that Jaime? In particular, I was impressed with the kathmadnu vegetables, a mix of chickpeas, cauliflower and potatoes in a tomato and onion based sauce. The vegetables were still firm and retained its own texture.

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I love eggplant, and Himalayan’s version – grilled stir fried eggplant with onions, tomatoes, and green peppers was delicious. The soy sauce and Neapli spices was a nice alternative to the Chinese version I often eat. I liked the crunchiness of the onions and peppers as well.

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I wanted to try the Mango Fruity Shrimp because John Gilchrist recommended it. I found the creamy mango tomato sauce too sweet for my taste. The shrimp was cooked well – still crunchy and a decent size.

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I tried a little of the butter chicken. The chicken tasted like it was cubed chicken breasts. The sauce was creamy with a hint of ginger and tomato. I couldn’t order the dishes with more spice, as both Beep Beep and L can’t take the heat.

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With the sides of rice, fresh naan and complimentary papadum, Beep Beep and I were blissfully stuffed and L had enough for dinner as well. He raved about the butter chicken when he came home.

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I always like the service and the food at the Himalayan. Servers are attentive and kind, always around to make sure our waters were topped up and we were comfortable. I should eat here more often than I do, but I’ll blame the difficulty of getting a last minute reservation at the Himalayan.

One more week and I’m back in Vancouver visiting family and friends. I got my eye on Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca and Acorn and my usual, Miku, Guu and Kingyo. I don’t normally blog in my hometown because I like to catch up with my friends rather than take notes, but I think I’ll make the exception for Cioppino’s, Jaime’s favourite restaurant.

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The Himalayan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato,