A jewel hidden in the Calgary construction rubble

Nawab
137 5 Avenue SE, Calgary
(403) 282-1002

 

Nawab is hidden behind the lines of considerable construction in downtown Calgary making it hard to find. I happened upon Nawab one evening as I was acquainting myself with the city when I first came to Calgary. I’ve been here several times with various friends who have all enjoyed the meal. The chef, and I think also the owner, often comes into the dining room to ensure his guests are enjoying their meal. Nawab is family-run so it feels as though you are eating in their family dining room. 7 days a week for dinner after 5pm, and a lunch buffet Monday to Fridays. Mains are about $14-$18. Well spiced dishes, excellent naan, friendly service, and if you have room left split a mango lassi with a friend.

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Dancing Elephants, Short Lines, and Treacherous road conditions…

Vij’s
1480 W 11th Ave, Vancouver
604.736.6664

 

For the first time ever I walked into Vij’s last week and did not wait* even a moment before they sat us at our table. As one of the elite restaurants in town, reviewed by the New York Times, and acclaimed by foodies around the globe, Vij’s was a must stop for me and my friend with the discerning palate on our winter culinary adventures in Vancouver. When you walk into Vij’s you are met with the warmth of candle light that casts shadows of elephants around the room and the rich aroma of curry. The restaurant bustles with service staff that meticulously ensure tables are set, cleared, and guests are attended to. The man himself, Vikram Vij, is present in the dining room, caring for his guests and supporting his staff. In each my visits here he has stopped by to ask how our meal is or share a story. We ordered two different house cocktails, although worth trying, I would not order either again and stick instead to well selected beer or wine. On the suggestion of our server we started with the Portobello mushroom appetizer, which is an absolute must try on the menu. I didn’t try the lamb popsicles, which was our second server selection, but I did taste the sauce and understand why it such a fan favourite. The lamb was varying degrees of cooked from medium rare to well done, and probably would have been better served in review were it all medium rare. The meal was accompanied with a limitless supply of yummy naan and rice, but just be careful not to get too stuffed with carbs while mopping up the delicious sauces. In the New York Times article linked above Sara Dickerman says that Vij’s food is “not fusion exactly”, but I respectfully disagree, as I think this is one of the few restaurants on earth that executes fusion cuisine flawlessly. While the food shares the spice and colours of Indian food, its preparation, ingredients, and presentation are far from traditional. My main course, the marinated sablefish is an excellent fusion of Indian spice, modern presentation, and local ingredients. I finished my meal by tasting the house rice pudding served cold and topped with edible gold leaf, it is good, but not nearly as remarkable as the dinner itself. I was fortunate enough to be treated to dinner on this occasion and I ordered with reckless abandon from cocktails to dessert, but in the handful of Vancouver’s elite restaurants this is likely the most reasonably priced. We had an excellent evening experience at Vij’s which continues to sit at the top of my must try restaurants in Vancouver list.

 

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*Note: You can’t make reservations at Vij’s so don’t go on an evening when you’re in a rush, and prepare yourself for a long wait.  This night the weather conditions in Vancouver were treacherous, which is likely why we were saved the wait, however on past occasions I’ve waited an hour and half before being seated.  The dinner is worth it though, and while you wait in their lounge you will enjoy complimentary warm appetizers from the kitchen.  And if you are in a rush, stop by Vij’s more casual sister restaurant, Rangoli, right next door.