Vij’s Indian Restaurant in Vancouver: A Review

Vij's is a mecca for those who love innovative Indian cuisine.

Vij’s Indian restaurant is not on any of Vancouver’s well-worn tourist trails, but it should be. And for those who love innovative Indian cuisine, it probably is already.

Vikram Vij (rhymes with “rich”) opened his restaurant in 1994 and, with the addition of his wife Meeru as head cook, it has become a mecca for those who love Indian food. Many people consider Vij’s the best Indian food they have ever eaten, and I just may add my name to the list.

If you head to Vij’s, and you really should, be aware that the popularity of the place requires some advance planning. They do not take reservations and when the place opens at 5:30 pm, which it does seven days a week, there is always a line containing at least a restaurant-full of eager patrons. If you don’t get in with the first group, you can wait patiently in the small outdoor patio, your wait made easier by regular visits from the staff bearing finger food (the papri chaat is to die for). You can also order a drink while waiting. Bottom line: get there early or come later and take your chances.

Fortunately, the food is worth the wait. This is not your usual-suspects kind of Indian menu. Yes there are some familiar dishes – samosas, saag paneer – but when was the last time you saw Lamb Popsicles on an Indian menu?

For starters we had garam masala sautéed portobello mushrooms in a porcini cream curry sauce and spicy mangos and dates over sautéed mustard greens and spinach. Both were ambrosial. Mains were the aforementioned lamb popsicles, small, perfectly cooked lamb chops artfully stacked in a fenugreek-scented

Lamb "popsicles" are served in a fenugreek-cented curry sauce.

curry sauce, which were sublime, and beef short ribs braised in a tomato curry sauce, which was merely terrific. Goat curry and preparations featuring Pacific salmon and Dungeness crab will have to wait for another visit.

Those munchies that are proffered to the line outside are also passed around, along with mugs of chai, to welcome those who make it in with the first rush of diners. Starters come with naan and entrees with both naan and perfectly cooked rice. There is an extensive wine list with about ten wines offered by the glass at $9.75. An interesting note: The entire kitchen staff is female.

You can whet your appetite by checking out the menu on Vij’s web site, but be aware that the menu you receive when you dine there will be somewhat different. Vij’s is not precisely cheap, but I defy anyone to claim it is not worth the price charged. Our meal, with two glasses of wine, came to $112 CDN before tip.

For more information:

1480 West 11th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 736-6664