Rasoee – Vancouver, BC


Rasoee
104 – 2138 Western Parkway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 221-9355

Classes are out for the winter break at UBC.  Though I’m sure there are some who have to stay behind and get through the end of year festivities on their own for whatever and various reasons.  Instead of a hearty turkey dinner with family, I’m sure some might make their way to University Village, for whatever might be open to serve those unfortunate souls spending this week on their own…

In November, Rasoee set up shop in a former video rental store space.  Its a quick and easy, mainly take away franchise chain with origins in Toronto.  Over the last seven years, it has expanded to other cities out east (Burlington, ON), as well as out here in the western provinces (Calgary, Edmonton, Whistler and Vancouver).  This particular location has a very small counter where you could eat your meal in-house so to speak.

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Surya Indian Restaurant – Calgary, AB


Surya Indian Restaurant
1207 11 Ave. SW
Calgary, AB T3C 0M5
(403) 290-1777

Surya Restaurant on Urbanspoon

East Indian lunch buffet. In a town like Calgary, it seems like most places of South Asian cuisine need a lunch buffet to compete. I’m not sure if it’s the vast quantity demanded by patrons, or if it’s the wide selection everyone likes, but all I know is most locations with a dining room, whether they start with one or not, end up with a lunch buffet.

Surya Indian Restaurant is located on the main floor of an office building in the Beltline. The first time i ate there, it was ala carte, and it was really quite good. That made the lunch buffet a must try.

The first thing you notice with Surya is that their selection is enormous. While many lunch buffets usually have 6-8 choices, Surya has 12 dishes, plus a variety of salads, rice, chutneys, desserts, and naan of course. They also have pappadums – which makes me really happy. The selection is fantastic – about the same as Glory of India. The quality is excellent – as good as Glory of India, if not better, and better yet, the price is much cheaper (13.99 last time i was there) than Glory of India. The keep refills low, and refill often.

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Selection is varied – includes many meat dishes (usually 4), a load of vegetarian options, and a lot of starches.

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Baba Ka Dhaba – Calgary, AB


Baba Ka Dhaba
3504 17 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 207 5552

Baba Ka Dhaba on Urbanspoon

As i discovered on my recent trip, there is power in low expectations. When you have no preconceived notions on how something will be, generally speaking, you end up pleasantly surprised.  With high expecations? Well, i have to admit, my most disappointing dining experiences over the past year have either been at highly regarded restaurants, or at new local eateries that had generated a lot of buzz. Only the best made an impression. Most were quite disappointing. This may not be completely fair, but for me, the higher the expectations, the less likely I am to like the place. Sad, but true. At Baba Ka Dhaba, there were no expectations at all.

Baba Ka Dhaba is a small hole in the wall East Indian eatery in Forest Lawn, on the north side of 17th ave SE. Even knowing where it is, it is quite easy to drive by and miss it. I did several times! Baba Ka Dhaba has fairly limited seating, with 3 tables, and likely seats for 12-16 people, depending on how friendly you get. The evening i was there, the majority of the orders were take out.

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When you first walk in, there is nothing really prominent. It’s small. A bit shabby, and tiled in white. Tables are in varying degrees of disarray – we ended up bussing our own tables to get a place to sit. If you were measuring atmosphere on a scale from 1-10, it’d be a 0. That’s not a good thing.

There is a small cut out in the hastily erected plywood wall where someone takes orders. Above the cutout is the menu – what they serve is limited on each given day, an approach I have been a big fan of lately. I find the limited menu ensures better quality control. Beats trying to be all things to all people. However, be sure you are looking at the correct day – i was salivating over certain dishes that were available on a different day before i realized my mistake. Each given day has dishes from a variety of styles. Some curries, some dishes from the tandoor, some appetizers.

Service, from a objective persepctive, was actually fairly horrific. It took them 10 minutes to even notice we were at the window to take our order. One guy jumped the queue and placed his take out order ahead of us. And then it took them so long to get us our food, that the two gentleman we were sharing our table with, definite regulars and personally knew the owners, suggested we go back and ask about our food, because they were certain they had “forgotten our order”. If i had any expectations at all, or if my dining companion wasnt as easy going and affable, im sure i would’ve felt a lot more slighted. Instead, it was just another part of the experience.

We went for a diversity of dishes to get a good sampling. We each started with the samosas. Very large and fried to a golden brown, these were served warm. Overall, they were fantastic. The skins werent too thick, giving a nice crunchy bite, and the filling was loaded with flavour, yet not overly dry. Sauce and raita accompainiments were a nice touch. These are available every day.

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An order of goat curry is eagerly anticipated, and fails to disappoint. My biggest complaint with goat curry is usually the over-use of boney cuts, resulting in very little substance. These were actually quite meaty, complete with tendon, which make for a nice contrast in textures. The gravy was a bit oily, but had an amazingly rich flavour. Not overpowered with cardamon, tumeric, or cumin as many other curries are. Well balanced, and long simmered, the sauce had great complexity. It showcased the perfectly crisp Naan well too, as there wasnt a drop left on the plate when we were done.

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Lastly, we shared an order of Chicken Biryani. The meat was a bit bony, and lacked some substance, but the flavour was great, as they used dark meat, and the rice was fluffy and filling.

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Our neighbours had the fish tandoori, and offered us a few bites to try. They probably felt bad that we had ordered before them, and they were going to finish their meal before our food came. It was tender, flavourful, and well spiced. An excellent fish dish.

Now, the CHR has cited Baba Ka Dhaba for several health code violations, some which are worse than others, so you’ve been warned. Check at your own peril.

In the grand scheme of things, I think this is a perfect illustration of the power of low expectations. Good service? No. Any atmosphere? One online blogger with a better command of the language than I likened it to “eating in a urinal” – better words I could not come up with! But the flavours and the price really can’t be beat. And I was expecting nothing, other than a meal for Friday night., and instead I got a feast for the taste buds, for two people, all for $20.

If i was to try a well regarded restaurant for the first time and experience the same things, I’m not sure i’d be as understanding. But when it comes to Baba Ka Dhaba, they get a pass. I would highly recommend you try the food, the flavours really are fantastic. If you feel a bit nervous, get take out. It might explain the loads of people i saw eating in their cars, who would occasionally come in and order more naan. I thought it was a hot date location, but im starting to think, maybe they’re onto something…

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