Swagatam Bar Restaurant – Barcelona

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We were told by some friends that Swagatam Bar Restaurant was a really good Indian restaurant in the Gracia neighbourhood. It looks a little dodgy on the outside and it’s not exactly easy to find but it was surprisingly really good!

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Inside, the decor is not really any better. Definitely minimal and simplistic. However, service was pretty good and they spoke good English. We had a fairly large group, of about 10 people, so we decided the best way was to order a few curries and share. The waiter gave us a hand in choosing them, and the portions were just perfect with all of us being satisfied and full. I didn’t really take part in any of the ordering, so I don’t know exactly what the names of the dishes are… But here goes…

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We started off with two plates of these chips. I believe they are called Papadom but correct me if I’m wrong. They reminded me of tortilla chips, but they are a round disc shape and broken in half. I think these are made with lentil and chickpea and lightly salted. Crispy, but pretty much flavourless other than the salty taste.

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It came with three types of sauces to dip the papadoms. The dark reddish brown sauce was the mildest, and was actually a little sweet. It didn’t really have any kick to it. The green one in the middle was more of a yoghurt base and reminded me of those Greek tzatziki sauce. I actually liked this one quite a lot. The last one that was bright red was the spiciest sauce. However, I still didn’t find it to be super spicy. It wasn’t the spice where I needed to gulp water down right away. All of them were quite mild in my mind.

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I wasn’t able to get pictures of most of the curries since everyone already began indulging in them before I could get any snaps. I believe this was the Butter Chicken. We got mild for all the curries since Indian curries are usually quite spicy. However, we found none of the curries to be spicy! And I’m someone who can’t take spice… It was sort of odd and a little disappointing. Still, the butter chicken was really good. It was smooth and rich in tomato with a buttery texture. Lots of chunks of chicken too!

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I think this was the Chicken Tikka Masala. Again very rich and creamy. Still, it was not spicy enough!!

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We had a few bowls of Basmati Rice. We also had naan, which was complementary.

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Here’s a picture of some of the different curries we had. I think some had lamb, while others were mostly chicken. I especially liked the rice which was already seasoned. I’m not sure what it was called, but it was nicely flavoured and a good change from having such a buttery creamy texture. Overall, I was really happy with the Indian food at Swagatam. I believe they are one of the top Indian restaurants in Barcelona, actually. The only problem I had was the level of spice. Definitely could’ve kicked it up a level. Maybe we sounded hesitant when they asked us if we could take spice, hence what they served us. But otherwise, definitely worth checking out!

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Vij’s

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Vij’s is known to be one of the best Indian restaurants in Vancouver. Not sure if it’s because of celebrity chef, Vikram Vij, but it’s definitely a must try! They’re famous for their long line-ups, so I haven’t had the chance, or maybe patience to go try it out. J had gotten me a gift card last year, and K said she wanted to go for my birthday, so off we went. We went on a weekday, and because of those scary line up stories I heard, I suggested we get in for our first seating. The restaurant opens at 5:30, but reviews suggested we go a little earlier than 5pm to secure a spot since they don’t take reservations. We got there around 5:05 and this is what the line up was like in the picture above. Not too bad. We were lined up just behind the lady in the white skirt, and there were around 10 people sitting in the patio area waiting as well. Soon after, the line began to form. At around 5:25, a lady came out to give us a sample of Cassava Root Fries. This was quite nice after waiting in the burning sun for 20 minutes. The people who sat at the patio area also had purchased drinks from a waitress who seemed to work at the sister store, Rangoli, which is right next door. They never offered the drink menu for the people in line though.

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Finally, at 5:30, they opened the doors and the line quickly moved as they got everyone seated. The inside smelled of spices and was dimly lit. I liked how they had enough servers to quickly get everyone their menus, water and greet them. They were definitely efficient and knew what they were doing.

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The kitchen area actually looks pretty small from the outside, but I’m not sure if it’s actually bigger than that. If not, I’m surprised they can get the food out in such a quick time.

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Simple tableware, but I loved the copper water bottle they used. Gave it some Indian flare and kept the water cool. I have to add that I’m really impressed that all the plates they provided us were hot! It definitely helped to make sure the food was still kept warm even on the plate.

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Complementary Chai

We were asked whether we wanted a sample of their complementary Chai. It was hot, and I honestly wasn’t looking for a hot drink after waiting in line under the burning sun, but I was curious to try it. I let it cool down for a bit, and took a sip. It was so good! I remember trying a chai tea latte at Starbucks, and absolutely hated it. I was surprised how good this one was! It was a little minty, and surprisingly sort of cooled me down. Delicious!

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Pakora

Just when I thought the samples were over, a server came around offering more! A burning hot Pakora! I sort of wish they had given us a plate first, since these were really hot, and I couldn’t even hold it for long. These were really good though! The spices were just right and not overwhelming.

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Cassava Root tossed in Indian Spices

They also gave us a second sample of the Cassava Root Fries tossed in Indian Spices. Again, these were burning hot and fresh. I find the spice a little too spicy though! Still delicious.

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Samosas filled with Lamb and Beef, sauteed in fennel, cloves and sumac

K and I decided to share two appetizers and a main as it was a relatively early dinner for us. I love samosas, but man, were these good! For $13.50, I had thought it was pretty ridiculous for 2 Samosas, but these are totally worth the price you’re paying for. I especially liked the curry at the bottom. It was similar to a butter chicken curry, and had a tomato base to it. Surprisingly, it also wasn’t too spicy and was delicious with the complementary naan. I’m not crazy for coconut, so at first, I didn’t mix the coconut mixture together. However, I gave it a try, and it was absolutely delicious. It brought some coconut flavour, which is always delicious in a curry.

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The pastry aren’t those thin, flaky ones you usually get at donair shops, but a thicker pastry, which still has the flaky texture. The inside was filled with lots of potatoes, lamb, and beef and tons of spices. If you don’t think you can get full off of one samosa, you will!

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Mutton Kebobs with Bengali Style Curry

To be honest, I don’t know much about Indian cuisine, so I ended up reading some reviews to see what is good. Follow Me Foodie had given a great review on the Mutton Kebobs, so why not? Both K and I didn’t even know what mutton was, but after googling, we learned that it was just an older sheep. Most chefs are afraid to use mutton because they have a stronger taste than lamb and can often be overcooked and dry. I did find that cutting into these kebobs, they were a little tough, but it seemed like it was because of the outer layer. The outer layer had a sausage like texture. The overall execution reminded me of sausages, and I found it spicy. The inside was extremely moist though. It was paired with a Bengali Style Curry, which was sort of like a Butter Chicken Sauce again, but very thin. The consistency definitely wasn’t thick. The curry was too spicy for me though, and along with the spicy kebobs, my mouth was flaming! I liked how they had a salad filled with cucumbers on the side though, as it cooled me down.

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Complementary Naan

We were given complementary Naan and this was soft and fluffy. Not extremely flaky, and more on the doughy side, but I enjoyed it. They were warm and weren’t too oily. You can get unlimited naan as long as you ask, but this stuff gets you filled up before you know it!

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Papri Chaat – 2 Kinds of Chutney and Mung Bean on Fried Dough

More samples? Yup. This is called the Papri Chaat. The server described it as two kinds of chutney and mung bean on fried dough. The fried dough was simliar to a tortilla chip, but not as salty. The mixture worked really well together and I could eat these as snacks all day!

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Wine Marinated Lamb Popsicles in Fenugreek Cream Curry on Turmeric and Spinach Potatoes

And then came what everyone raves about and what I came for. The Lamb Popsicles! Wow, weren’t these the best lamb I’ve had in my life. They were cooked to medium-rare and were extremely tender. The sauce was quite mild and actually a bit sweet. The consistency was much more thing, and was great to dip your lamb in. There were also spinach and buttered potatoes at the bottom which were delicious when soaked in the sauce. We were so full by the end of our meal, that we actually had to take two of these popsicles home. And honestly, I was afraid that they wouldn’t taste good anymore, but my dad tried it once we got home, and he said they were still delicious! That’s how good they are. Cooked perfectly!

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Complementary Basmati Rice

For our entree, they also brought out some complementary Basmati Rice. It had a nice spice and aroma to it, and were cooked so it wasn’t too dry. Really good with the cream curry.

My conclusion is that Vij’s is a must try! It might be overrated with all those lineups, but the food is that good! Try to get her for the first seating because you basically have to wait for the first seating customers to finish before you get a table. It’s also quite a pricey dinner, but so worth it. Come here for special occasions, when you aren’t in a hurry and have the time to wait and enjoy your dinner!

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Indian Star Restaurant

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We had originally wanted to go to The Bombay for some butter chicken since J said it was pretty good. Of course, we had to decide to go on a day it wasn’t opened though… Really? A random Tuesday. So yes, we ended up Googling another Indian restaurant closeby, since we were still craving for that butter chicken… And with the limited choices in the Port Coquitlam area, we ended up at Namaste Indian Restaurant. Wait hold on, where is the Namaste on the banner? We got kind of confused, but realized it’s printed on the very side of it vertically… So weird…

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Surprisingly, the inside was really nice compared to the outside. It actually looked pretty fancy. They had their lunch buffet advertised at $10.95 outside, so we asked if we could take a look at what the buffet offered. It’s literally just that tiny section at the back corner of the restaurant and there is a salad bar, which to be honest, looked pretty gross. And then there was the meat, veggies, and curry area. Not a lot of offering, but what do you expect when it’s $10.95 and all you can eat. We also asked to look at their regular menu, and we saw that most entrees were probably more expensive than the buffet, so we ended up going for the buffet. What was funnier, was that we asked the man, who basically operates the whole restaurant, how much the buffet was, and he said it was $9.95! Okay, now that’s definitely a deal.

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There’s Basmati Rice, and Kofta Curry, which I tried a bit of. It was just decent, and wasn’t one of my favourites. Let’s just say it was “alright”.

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I also tried some of their Mixed Vegetables, which were just vegetables, like beans, potatoes, and cauliflower mixed in a seasoning. It was decent, but I felt like their warmer wasn’t heating the food hot enough. They were just warm, and definitely not that great. The Tandoori Chicken were also one of the more popular options. Definitely not the best, but it also wasn’t terrible. It could’ve been more well-seasoned though.

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They also had something called Dal Turka, but I wasn’t too sure what it was, and didn’t really want to try it. It looked like no one had touched it! On the left were some Vegetable Pakoras. They were pretty cold, so they weren’t that great. A lot of batter as well.

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And then there was what we came here for! Our Butter Chicken. It was alright, and definitely one of the repeat items for us, since there were limited items that were actually decent. There was tons of chicken, but we didn’t find it extremely moist. The sauce was on the creamier tomato side and I found it quite salty. I guess it worked well with the rice and Naan though.

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The warmers also had some Naan, but it was cold and quickly gone. So the man occasionally came by and brought us some fresh naan. I found it really oily and it wasn’t flaky at all. Quite disappointing.

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And here’s a picture of our first plates. Not a lot of food, since we wanted to try a bit of everything first to get a sense of what’s good and what’s bad (the key to eating at buffets!). I guess Namaste is alright for what you pay for. I mean, you can probably get really full if you keep going for the butter chicken, tandoori and some rice. And all for the price of $9.95 (since apparently it’s a dollar off now…). But then again, I’m not sure how fresh your food is, since the whole time we were there, there was only one other couple eating with us. So imagine your food being in those warmers for the whole lunch hours. I wonder if their regular menu would be better though.

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Curry Express

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Butter Chicken and Rice Combo

Dining Terrace has been open for around a month now! I was quite late in actually going to try out their food. I went a week after to check it out while doing some shopping, but never actually tried out any of the food. So finally, during my break at work, I decided to head upstairs and look for a small dinner. The dining terrace is huge, and for someone who is always so indecisive, it’s terrible. I swear I could’ve walked around five times and my break would’ve ended by then. So I decided to head straight to Curry Express. I mean, with work every week, I’m sure to try out every place sooner or later.

Curry Express is also at Lansdowne Centre, but I seldom go there so I’m guessing the last time I had it was when I was a kid. I decided to get a curry and rice combo. There were so many different types of curries in the heating trays, so I asked the cashier what was the most recommended. She immediately said Butter Chicken, so that’s what I went with! I found that the butter chicken was a little more on the watery side, and I would have probably preferred it to be a little thicker. The chicken however, was extremely tender. The sauce was good – quite typical, but I felt it lacked some spices that would be present when you eat at an Indian restaurant. The portion was also less than I had imagined, but I guess that’s food court portions. Overall, I would just say it was average.

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Bengali Fish & Curry


Naan Bread, Chicken Curry, Saffron Rice, Butter Chicken

Off I went to Surrey to try some authentic Indian cuisine. I’m no expert for Indian cuisine, so bear with me, but I felt this was probably pretty authentic. Bengali Fish & Curry is situated near an office area, and isn’t really out on the streets where all the rest of the restaurants are. I read online that it was a hidden gem, so decided to give it a try. I believe lots of people take out here, since when you first enter, you can basically order food there. But we were led to the dining area, which was pretty nice. There was probably around only 2 other tables with us though, but everyone eating there were Indian, so I took a guess that the food would be pretty legit.

I ordered the Butter Chicken, and thought that it would come with rice or something, but to my surprise, it was just the butter chicken. We had ordered some Naan Bread too, but I was craving some rice with my sauce, so we ordered a bowl of Saffron Rice, which was huge. I think we ended up ordering too much food, but it was good to try the rice too, since it tasted quite differently from the rice I normally eat at Chinese or Western places. They had a lot of herbs in the rice, and it smelt pretty good too. I had the butter chicken non-spicy since I can’t take spice, and it came with lots of chicken. Jack had the Chicken Curry, and had it very spicy. I tried a bit of it, and found it too spicy for my liking of course.

Overall, food was really good, and service was also extremely friendly. They played some Indian music videos on the TV too, which gets you into the Indian mood. I honestly can’t say much about the food though, since I haven’t tried many authentic Indian restaurants before, but it was pretty good in my opinion!

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Tandoori Grill at Whistler

Assorted Indian Snacks – Vegetable Pakora, Samosa, Chicken Tikka and Seek Kebab

Lamb Tikka – Marinated leg of lamb pieces

Spinach Naan – Leavened bread, stuffed with grated homemade cheese and chopped spinach and Naan – Leavened bread of fine flour

Aloo Gobhi – Fresh cauliflower and potatoes cooked with fresh onions, tomatoes and exotic spices, Curry Chicken – A traditional boneless chicken cooked in onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and exotic spices, and Butter Chicken – Boneless pieces of chicken marinated in ginger and garlic, cooked in a butter-tomato sauce

So I pretty much disappeared for a while after Christmas to New Years since I was celebrating my holidays up at Whistler!  Sadly I didn’t get many pictures of food up there as we didn’t eat out much or I was too hungry to bother taking pictures. So this is the only post about food up at Whistler! Last dinner before we left, we decided to have a nice Indian cuisine dinner at Tandoori Grill. About a 15 minute walk from where we lived and situated in the Village, we were all starving to get some good food. We had made reservations ahead of time, which probably was a good idea as it was quite packed. To our surprise, it was a really quiet with dimmed lights and probably one the more fancy restaurants up at Whistler. Excuse my poor lighting pictures, as it was very dim inside and I only had a phone to take pictures! Food was quite delicious although portions were on the smaller side for the price. But then again, it’s about quality over quantity!  I especially liked the assorted indian snacks as we got to sample a little of each, and the lamb was also very good. It came in a sizzling plate and had just enough spice. We asked for mild for all our dishes, but even so, the more we ate, it got a little too spicy for me to handle! Great place to have a lovely dinner up at Whistler!

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Curry Point at UBC

Curry Chicken

Another late night at UBC means looking for food for dinner! A friend ended up grabbing me some take out at Curry Point which is in University Village.
Can’t comment much about the place since I wasn’t there but the food was just okay. The curry was much better than the one from the Delly, but the rice was kind of soggy. Still need to find a better curry place at UBC!

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Sanafir

Grilled Naan Bread – Hummus, garlic confit, mixed olives

Prawn Ceviche – mango papaya salsa

Mezze Platter – Mediterranean ribs, lamb kofta, black pepper calamari, grilled tandoori tiger prawns, braised shortrib crostini, tuna confit crostini, watermelon & valdeon salad

Butter Chicken

Sanafir offers a menu of exotic flavours showcasing North African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian. The Mezze Platter was really filling, but you have to order at least two portions. I came in thinking it was more of an Indian restaurant, but the flavours are very interesting and clearly showcases a fusion experience. The dining environment is also very interesting! The restaurant is basically open so flies coming in was a little frustrating. However, when you go upstairs, they have beds and also low couches that you can choose to dine on. Apparently you need to make reservations before hand for those special seatings though. Now that I think about it, it probably would be quite hard to eat on a bed, or at least I would make a mess. Great service and food! Check it out if you want to try something exotic!

Their Website: http://www.sanafir.ca/index.html

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