Horin Ramen & Sake

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Horin Ramen + Sake opened on Robson along with all the other ramen shops late last year. They feature Fukuoka style ramen, which is the thin straight kind, and one of my favourites. When we arrived, the shop was not too busy on a Friday night. We were seated immediately, but the shop did have a bit of a wait as we finished our dinner. The interior is modern with the seats along a narrow space. However, seating is pretty comfortable compared to many other ramen shops.

 

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They have a paper placemat which describes the back story of the restaurant. Apparently, their secret recipe is based on adding spicy chili peppers in their pork based Tonkotsu soup. Also, their noodles are made fresh in store. You can even see the machine and the workers making the noodles at the front of the store.

 

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Their menu is very simple with only tonkotsu pork broth ramen available. The four variations are just customized with different toppings, but the broth is the exact same. Like many ramen shops, you can also customize your bowl with texture of noodles (soft, standard, firm), amount of dashi (less salty, standard, extra salty), amount of chili blend (less spicy, standard, extra spicy), and amount of lard (less fat, standard, extra fat).

 

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Ajitama Ramen

Both S and I got the Ajitama Ramen which is their original but comes with one whole soft-boiled egg cut in half. The noodles come with chashu and green onions. As S does not like spicy, he opted out of the housemade chili blend. The bowl was clean with the focus really on the broth and noodles.

 

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Ajitama Ramen

For myself, I also got the Ajitama Ramen but with a standard amount of housemade chili blend. I found this style of ramen with the chili very similar to Ramen Danbo and Ichiran but I prefer the latter two over Horin. I found the broth to be lighter and not as creamy. This might be more suitable for others though as many have said Ramen Danbo is too salty and heavy for them. The chashu was pretty good here though as the ratio of fat to meat was just right. I asked to have the noodles firm and they indeed met my expectations although I found they felt a little soft near the end. You really need to eat this quick! As for the chili blend, I much prefer the ones from Ramen Danbo or Ichiran as they have more kick to it. I found the flavours at Horin to be milder in general. However, given the line ups at Ramen Danbo can get a bit ridiculous during peak hours, this is a good alternative if you’re looking for a similar style of ramen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba

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Niku Mazesoba

Last year, a new ramen restaurant opened up and it definitely found itself having long lines as expected. Kokoro Toyko Mazesoba is located just next to the Downtown BCIT campus which makes it a popular spot for all the students. If you come during peak lunch and dinner hours, expect to wait, although it is quite spacious and food comes out fast, so the turnover is quite quick. Mazesoba is essentially a mixed noodle or soupless ramen. I first tried something similar to this when I was in Tokyo.

I decided to try the Niku Mazesoba which seemed to be their most popular mazesoba. It features slow braised pork chashu, spicy minced pork, raw egg yolk, green onion, seaweed flakes, chives, minced garlic, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. Noodles sit below all the ingredients and you mix all the ingredients and noodles together while breaking the yolk. It reminds me of a dan dan noodle with each noodle strand being coated with some sauce. The noodles were toothsome with a nice al dente texture. They are right when they say not udon but also not ramen as it is really something in between.

 

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Shio Mazesoba

S didn’t really want that raw egg yolk so he got the Shio Mazesoba which featured slow braised pork chashu, bamboo shoot, green onion, spinach, seaweed flakes, minced garlic, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. Instead, he added a soft boiled egg on the side. His mazesoba was definitely less saucy without the egg so he actually did not have much sauce leftover. If you find the noodles a bit too heavy, you can also try adding vinegar to break the grease and saltiness. They also have chilli flakes on the table if you want to add some kick to your noodles.

 

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Although S’s bowl didn’t have much sauce left, my Niku bowl had plenty of sauce and ingredients left. The waiter will come by and ask if you’d like a free small bowl of rice which you can then drop into your leftover sauce and mix. It surprisingly tasted really good! But I could really only eat half the portion of rice after a whole bowl of noodles. If you’re hungry, then definitely go for the free rice!

 

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Mentaiko Cream Mazesoba

On another occasion, I came back during lunch hours to try their Mentaiko Cream Mazesoba. This featured mentaiko, slow braised pork chashu, raw egg yolk, seaweed flakes, spinach, green onion, minced garlic, japanese cream sauce, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. I actually preferred this over the Niku Mazesoba as I found that the Niku was a bit heavy and salty for my liking. I found the mentaiko cream helped cut the grease a bit even before I added vinegar.

 

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Overall, I quite enjoyed the mazesobas but like ramen, it’s not something I can eat often as they are more on the heavy side. Plus, the prices are quite steep with most bowls going for $15-16 each. Definitely not a spot I could come for work lunch all the time. They do offer classic ramens with soup and a variety of appetizers and desserts, but I have yet to try those.

Pros:
– Mazesoba noodles are nice and chewy
– Extensive menu so there is something for everyone

Cons:
– Prices are steep for ramen
– Some of the bar seating isn’t very comfortable with the low backs

Price Range: $15-20 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Paid street parking/ paid BCIT parking lot Overall: 3.5

 

 

Superbaba

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Superbaba is one of the newest food trucks in the downtown core. It opened up earlier this year and parks in front of the Bentall Towers on the weekdays. The food truck has a restaurant in Victoria so not a stranger to BC. It caught my attention after seeing so many people lining up.

 

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The food truck features Middle Eastern food and focusses on pita wraps and bowls. The dishes range from $10-$12 so fairly priced for the downtown lunch crowd. They have two vegetarian options including falafels and eggplants, but also two meat options including chicken and steak.

 

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Falafel Bowl

I decided to go for the Falafel Bowl which featured chickpea fritters, fried cauliflower, tomato & cucumber salad, hummus, pickled cabbage, tahini, and shug. All bowls have a base of dressed kale and arugula and chilled rice and lentils. Being a meat lover, this vegetarian dish was absolutely delicious. These are probably the best falafels I’ve had. The falafels were so crispy on the outside and moist and flavourful inside. The hummus was smooth and not too garlicky and the fried cauliflowers were again crispy and crunchy with a nice acidity. Even the pickled cabbage and salads tasted great. I thought I would be hungry given most of the dish were vegetables, but I was surprisingly full. Highly recommend this dish!

Based on the falafel bowl, I am already loving Superbaba. I can’t wait to come back to try their wraps and other dishes. There’s a bit of a wait during lunch hours, but they’re pretty quick after you place your order. Plus, the people are super nice. Will be back to try more soon!

Pros:
– One of the best falafels I’ve had
– Reasonably priced

Cons:
– Line up can get pretty long during peak hours

Price Range: $10-15 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: N/A Parking: N/A Overall: 4.5

 

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

Giardino

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I’ve been craving Italian food so for my birthday this year, SF took me to Giardino. Located in downtown, the restaurant is quite tucked away and I’ve actually driven by many times without noticing it. The restaurant has been around for many years now and is known for their Tuscan cuisine. We were taken to their patio which is in the back of the restaurant and this was the best decision because the backyard patio is amazing! It felt like we were in Europe with the textured walls and garden. They even had this arch of greenery in the middle of the courtyard which was aesthetically pleasing. Super cute, rustic spot for date night!

 

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Complimentary Flat Bread

To start, we were given complimentary flat bread which was flavoured with olive oil and sea salt. They also gave us focaccia bread with butter which was spongy and I enjoyed it much more.

 

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Creamy Burrata

To start, we shared the Creamy Burrata which was served with a carpaccio of zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and baby arugula with pomegranate dressing. This was not bad, but I wished the burrata was creamier. Also as pomegranates have seeds, it was difficult to enjoy the flavour without being cautious of mistakenly swallowing the seeds. It made enjoying the dish a bit difficult.

 

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Diced Pacific Ahi Tuna

Another appetizer we shared was the Diced Pacific Ahi Tuna which was served on top of avocados and a grape tomato medley with microgreens on top. We told them we were sharing this dish, so I loved how they split the dish in half for us. Pictured above is therefore only half of the dish. I loved this small gesture as it makes it easy to share plates without having to awkwardly portion the food ourselves. As for the dish itself, the tuna was seasoned well and tasted great with the ripe avocados. A great starter!

 

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Spaghetti Al Nero Di Seppia and Oven Roasted Pacific Sablefish

As for our mains, we shared two dishes and again, they were able to portion our meals so we didn’t need to do the work. Therefore, pictured above is half of the spaghetti and half of the sablefish. The Spaghetti Al Nero Di Seppia is spaghetti made with squid ink and therefore features a black colour. This was served with Atlantic lobster medallions, and a cherry tomato sauce. The pasta was served al dente and the tangy sauce paired well with the sweet lobster. Our server shaved fresh Parmesan on top to make the dish more creamy. As for the second main, we had the Oven Roasted Pacific Sablefish which featured a horseradish crust and a variety of vegetables on the side. The sablefish was moist with a nice crispy crust. You can never go wrong with sablefish!

 

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Almond Cannoli

To finish, we had the Almond Cannoli which was filled with a zesty ricotta lemon cream and served with a side of blood orange sorbet and fruits. It was a nice gesture that they also added a candle and birthday message. As we were beyond full, this dessert was light and small enough to enjoy.

Overall, I really enjoyed my food at Giardino. The food felt rustic and although I didn’t think the dishes were presented in a very fancy manner, the food tasted great. As for service, I found it to be a bit slow between courses, but I think it’s a great spot if you don’t want to be rushed and just want to have long conversations. It felt relaxed and our waitress was extremely friendly and warm. I think we were even served by Umberto himself at one point if we’re not mistaken! Prices are definitely on the steeper side, but the ambiance and service is why you’re paying that premium.

Pros:
– Well executed dishes
– Friendly service and beautiful patio

Cons:
– Steep prices

Price Range: $50-60 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 4.5 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Meter parking Overall: 4.5

 

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

Ancora

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For my birthday this year, S took me to Ancora since it’s been on my go-to list for sometime now. The restaurant is located just off the bridge and has a beautiful view of the city by the water.

 

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The interior is beautiful with blue and brown chairs against a white backdrop. I love how the light shines in through the floor to ceiling windows. There is a patio as well but we chose to sit indoors.

 

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Complimentary Bread

To start, we were given complimentary bread.

 

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Nova Scotia Lobster Risotto

Ancora is known for combining Peruvian and Japanese cultures while incorporating a Pacific North West flare so it’s interesting that you’ll find sushi and sashimi here. However, I wasn’t really craving for sushi, so we went for all hot dishes. S and I shared the appetizer size Nova Scotia Lobster Risotto which was served with  preserved lemon, peas, cauliflower, thyme, and hazelnuts. The portion was so small for $24, but S and I both agreed the risotto was delicious! It wasn’t very heavy like the traditional Italian risottos, but rather very light because of the lemon. There was a decent amount of lobster and I especially liked the incorporation of the hazelnuts which gave a nutty chocolate flavour. A really interesting twist to a traditional dish.

 

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Aji Panca Glazed Sablefish

For the main, S got the Aji Panca Glazed Sablefish which came with smoked potato puree, dashi braised daikon, kale gomae, and quinoa crackling. Again, this was nice twist to the typical miso glazed sablefish. Instead, they glazed the fish with aji panca which is a Peruvian spice. The sablefish was moist and the accompanying sides were a delicious pairing.

 

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Seared Scallops and Pork Belly

For myself, I got the Seared Scallops and Pork Belly which was paired with green peas, chanterelles, cipollini, and goat’s cheese agnolotti. At first, I thought the dish wouldn’t be too filling, but it turned out to be quite filling especially because the goat’s cheese agnolotti was rather heavy. The seared scallops were cooked perfectly with a nice golden brown sear. The pork belly could have been more moist, but the pea puree worked well to moisten the pork a bit. Really enjoyed this dish!

 

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To finish, we were given complimentary macarons and cookies. This is usually part of the dinner service regardless if it’s a special occasion, but it was nice that they added a candle. S had put on the reservation online that it was my birthday, so we were actually pretty surprised that our waitress and hostess had not said a single word when we arrived. Further, when our waitress brought the dessert over, she still did not say happy birthday which I found quite odd. It wasn’t until we were paying that she finally ended with happy birthday. Our waitress was actually extremely cold the whole dinner and she even placed the dessert menu down without saying a single word. It was pretty shocking to see such cold service given the ambiance is such nice. However, I think it was just our waitress as I saw other staff being quite warm to their diners.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the dishes and loved the combination of Peruvian and Japanese. For the portion sizes and quality of food, the price is well justified. The ambiance and view is also spectacular and is a great spot to walk around after dinner. However, we definitely did not have good service here, so that was a bit upsetting.

Pros:
– Well executed dishes combining Peruvian and Japanese twists to West Coast dishes
– Ambiance and view of the city is beautiful

Cons:
– We personally had very cold service

Price Range: $50-70 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 2 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Paid meter parking Overall: 4

 

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

Nightingale

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Nightingale is Hawksworth’s sister restaurant and located in a beautiful building next to the MNP Tower. You could easily walk by the building without realizing its a restaurant. I wish I got some outside and interior pictures because the decor is seriously beautiful. The interior is extremely posh and we were seated in their upper level during lunch. The menu is Canadian but you’ll find pizzas, pastas, and a variety of seafood, meat, and vegetables showcasing what the Westcoast has to offer. The restaurant is family style so the dishes are meant to be shared. Of course, you can choose to enjoy an entree all to yourself.

To start, we had the Buttermilk Fried Chicken which was drizzled with a spiced maple syrup, sumac and pickles. The fried chicken was extremely crispy with the meat still moist. It didn’t feel greasy at all and the sour pickles were a nice compliment to the fried chicken.

 

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Roasted Mushroom Pizza

Of course we had to try the pizzas, so we chose the Roasted Mushroom which is vegetarian. This consisted of mushrooms, fontina cheese, confit garlic, and arugula pesto. The pizzas are thin crust crust with the edges charred with pockets. The dough is very light which was great since the cheese was quite heavy. Loved the flavours of the dish and the ingredients were abundant and well distributed.

 

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Spaghetti with Manila Clams

Finally, we tried one of their pastas and chose the Spaghetti with Manila Clams, jalapeño, scallion, and white wine. The spaghetti was cooked to al dente and the sauce was light but enough to keep the pasta moist. There were also many clams in the dish and none of them had sand in it. This is the entree portion, but you can choose to get an appetizer size as well.

Overall, I was very pleased with the food at Nightingale. I thought each dish was well executed and the pricing is quite reasonable for the portions and quality of food given the beautiful ambiance. The prices were a pleasant surprise given Hawksworth can be very pricey. I thought service was a bit intimidating though as our waitress seemed slightly cold although professional. A great place for date night or a casual lunch with a nicer ambiance.

Pros:
– Well executed dishes
– Beautiful ambiance and interior design

Cons:
– Wish our waitress was a bit more warm and friendly

Price Range: $20-40 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Paid parking in the area Overall: 4

 

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

 

Faubourg Paris

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of a media tasting, but all opinions are my own.

For a limited time, you will be able to get a taste of the lavvender field of Provence France at Faubourg.

 

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Faubourg has launched their summer lavender menu which features products including lavender earl grey macarons, lavender and strawberry pastries, lavender mixed berry smoothies, lavender lattes, lavender tea lattes, blueberry and lavender chaussons, and more. The menu is already available now and will be available until early to mid September.

 

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These desserts were sample sizes of the actual for the media tasting, so the actual dessert is much larger. My favourite had to be the Lavender and Strawberry Pastry (the circular one). This dessert features a lavender honey and sage mousse paired with a sweet strawberry gelee and a lavender vanilla sponge cake. I especially loved the sugar crystals on the rims! Not overly sweet but very strong in lavender flavour.

 

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All items at Faubourg are handcrafted and prepared fresh daily using traditional French recipes and high quality ingredients with no preservatives added. To demonstrate their commitment for quality, the pastries are prepared every morning and the viennoiseries are baked throughout the day ensuring the freshest products for the customers.

 

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Products are available starting June 4th, in the following locations:

Downtown: 769 Hornby Street Vancouver, BC V6Z 1S2
Kerrisdale: 2156 W 41st Ave Vancouver, BC V6M 1Z1
Park Royal: 792 Main Street, Park Royal S West Vancouver, BC V7T 1A2
Le Café: 175-628 East Kent South avenue Vancouver, BC V5X 0B2

 

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

Copper Chimney

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of a media event, but all opinions are my own.

Last week, I was invited to check out the happy hour menu which has relaunched at Copper Chimney. The Indian restaurant is located inside Hotel Le Soleil.

 

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The happy hour menu has a variety of appetizers and drinks on special. Most of the appetizers are around $7 and drinks at around $5-$8. The happy hour menu is available everyday from 3pm-6pm.

 

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Gin and Tonics

We got to try some Gin and Tonics. The restaurant carries gin from the local distillery, Long Table Distillery.

 

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Garlic Naan and Cheddar Cheese Kulcha Stuffed Bread

Not part of the happy hour menu, but who can say no to naan bread at an Indian restaurant? We were able to try both the Garlic Naan (left) and the Cheddar Cheese Kulcha Stuffed Bread (right). The naan are made fresh in their clay ovens to order. You can choose to have them with some chutney toppings such as mango, tamarind, mint-cilantro, or cucumber raita. I absolutely loved the cheese stuffed bread. The melted cheese was so stringy! I couldn’t stop eating this!

 

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Spiced Chips and Dip

Moving along to a happy hour item were the Spiced Chips and Dip. The chips are thick cut with a crispy exterior and served with a jalapeno and cumin raita dip. A great sharing dish!

 

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Minced Lamb Kebabs
I love skewers, so the Minced Lamb Kebabs were perfect for me! They had a nice char and were well seasoned.

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Tandoori Salmon

 

One of my favourites was the Tandoori Salmon. The salmon was extremely moist in the inside and the tandoori flavour was not overpowering. Highly recommend this!

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Vegetable Flatbread

For vegetarians, they have the Vegetable Flatbread which is topped with basil, goat cheese, and balsamic.

 

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Tiger Prawn Tandoori
Probably my favourite dish of the night was the Tiger Prawn Tandoori! Wow, these prawns were large and bouncy and seasoned with sambal, garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, sea salt. Extremely flavourful!

 

 

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Manchurian Cauliflower

Another item on the happy hour menu is the Manchurian Cauliflower. The cauliflower has a crispy batter and comes with a sweet and sour sauce.

 

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Non Vegetable Thali
They also have both vegetable and non-vegetable thali on their regular menu. The non-vegetable thali comes with indian pickles, courgette curry, lamb curry, butter chicken, Manchurian cauliflower, saffron basmati rice, and papadum.

 

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Tiffin Box Meal
During weekdays, they also offer Tiffin Box Meals. The initial tiffin box is $15, but after that, each meal is $9. Each day, there is a different curry and the box also includes rice, naan, and a kachumber slaw. This is a great deal for those working around the area!

 

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After trying some of the food, we got to take a tour in the kitchen. Here, we were shown how the naan is made. They have two tandoor ovens which are extremely high heat. Therefore, making the naan only takes a few minutes before it’s full of these air pockets. The chef gave us the freshly made naan and wow, that was good! I don’t think I have ever had such fresh naan before. So light and fluffy!

 

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The restaurant has both lower and upper level seating. It also has a small patio on the ground level just outside of the restaurant. But if you want to throw a private party, you can also book a dining area upstairs which connects to this outdoor patio! I love how intimate and secluded this area is while getting the patio feel because it’s not covered. Super cool design!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the food at Copper Chimney. I’m no expert with Indian food so I can’t comment on authenticity, but the food tastes great! Will definitely be back for happy hour as it is so close to work!

 

Copper Chimney Restaurant - Indian Grill & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato