Monday, August 29, 2011

VANCOUVER: Knock-out Flavour at Vij's Rangoli

For once, we showed up in Vancouver this past weekend without an eating plan. This is extremely rare as Vancouver is one of my favourite place to eat in the world, but we have been extremely busy with visitors this month and barely booked a flight out West to begin with so we literally just showed up. One of our first stops was South Granville for a visit to Williams-Sonoma....and to our most pleasant surprise, we saw activity near Vij's. I was convinced it was just deliveries, but Rangoli, which doubles as a market and restaurant, was actually just opening for lunch! We've tried to revisit Vij's in our last couple trips, but always too impatient (or hungry!) for the long line. I can't tell you how excited I was to have an unplanned opportunity to eat at Vij's Rangoli!

We decided to sit inside, right at the door, because I like to see all the activity in the restaurant. It's a casual, modern place, including doors hidden in the back wall behind wood panels (I heard one staff tell another the majority of his job is telling people where the bathrooms are!).
Sleek, but not pretentious...perfect. We were excited to crack open the menu and were quick to decide what to eat: I ordered the goat and jackfruit in creamy curry with coconut cabbage salad and Tony ordered my second choice, spicy pulled pork with sour cream chutney. We couldn't possibly just have 2 dishes so we also started with lamb, beef & lentil kebabs. This was the highlight of the meal - colourful and full of flavour! There were 4 kebabs, I made the mistake of stuffing the first one quickly into my mouth without indulging in the date-tamarind chutney. First, it was kind of spicy (but in a delicious "I could eat this all day" kind of way) and the chutney helped to cut the heat...but more importantly, the chutney was the BEST CHUTNEY EVER. It was so delicious, I was obligated to pile on as much as I could in every bite in my 2nd kebab. This is a MUST have at Rangoli. I was ready for more explosions of flavour in my mouth with the goat and jackfruit curry, but relative to the kebab, it was actually
pretty tame. I LOVE goat curry and this was every bit tender and delicious although not as creamy or spicy as I expected. The coconut cabbage was FANTASTIC. I lapped up every bite of curry, goat, cabbage, naan and rice on my plate. Don't worry, they are healthy lunch portions and I was not over eating. In fact, our meal felt pretty healthy, unlike most Indian meals we have had where I feel deathly after from the heaviness. Tony's spicy pork must be a regular favourite, it just had "staple dish" all over it and again, not too spicy. Honestly, I think we could have used a bit more spice but I also think we had the flavour knocked out of us by the starter kebabs.

Eating at Vij's Rangoli is a total experience. A suitably diverse crowd buzzed in and out of the market/restaurant, picking up frozen and ready-to-eat dishes from the market. There were also a number of single diners, finely dressed and also dressed down enjoying the food with a good book out on the patio. Someone also pulled up in a spectacular white Lamborghini - good food reaches all demographics :) While the restaurant was still quiet, I was able to interrupt my way into a conversation among the staff about David Chang's first issue of Lucky Peach after overhearing a familiar discussion about Ivan Ramen. It is the most amazing food journal, and yes, I have a subscription, thanks to my very thoughtful friend, Surina! Great food, great crowd, and crazy food lovers...what could be better? Oh right, being in Vancouver!

Vij's Rangoli
1488 West 11th Ave, Vancouver BC