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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!