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Indus Junction

Indus Junction is a recently opened restaurant at 811 Queen St. W. (the same strip as Coca, Seoul City, etc.) that I would describe loosely as neo-Indian. That is to say, they serve dishes that use classic Indian ingredients and flavours, but with a modern twist, particularly in terms of the presentation.

My wife and I were lucky enough to be invited via an unexpected connection to a private pre-opening party about a month ago where we were served a tasting menu that was great, although it did suffer a bit from the somewhat chaotic format of the evening (i.e. some dishes were getting cold by the time we received them). We chalked any flaws up to pre-opening jitters, and decided to give them a bit of time to find their feet before returning for a regular meal.

We went in tonight, and found the food to be even better than what we were served at the party. Their dinner menu is currently a very reasonably priced three course prix fixe ($25 with veggie main, $30 with meat main), and we had the following...

APPS:

They offer two Tikka Trios - one made with paneer, and one with cod - so we got one of each. Both are grilled with three different spice variations, and served with a light yoghurt sauce. The paneer was very fresh, and the cod perfectly cooked. Excellent start.

MAINS:

We ordered one veg - an eggplant dish - and one meat - a chicken dish.

The eggplant is described on the menu as a "sweet & sour" preparation, which may bring to mind an Indian/Chinese fusion of some sort, but it was definitely Indian through and through. Mixed with tomato and onion and topped with peanuts, it was absolutely delicious, albeit a little oily.

The chicken was quite unique for an Indian place, as it was stuffed with spinach and simmered in a tomato-based sauce, although the addition of fenugreek brought it back into the Indian realm.

The two other choices for mains are tandoori lamb chops and a cauliflower and paneer stew. All mains are served with basmati rice, an fantastic brown lentil dhal, and the freshest and tastiest naan I've had in a long time.

DESSERTS:

Only one listed on the menu - rice pudding - but there was also a brownie with ice cream available, so we got one of each.

Now, I'm a big rice pudding fan, and I'm often disappointed by it in restaurants, but this was quite possibly the best rice pudding I've ever had. It was served warm, had a perfect creamy consistency, and was lightly spiced to perfection. Mmmm.

The brownie, while obviously not very traditional, was delicious as well - crusty on the outside, moist and fudgy on the inside.

DRINKS:

The wine list is pretty limited, but we don't know a lot about wine anyway, so we just went with an Indian Sauvignon Blanc called Sula that we had previously tried at the party. It's not very complex, just a fresh, easy drinking white that sat nicely next to the food. With dessert, we had spiced Masala coffee which was nice. They also have mango & vanilla lassi, Chai tea, and several Indian soda pops.

Total with tax & tip, including a glass of wine and a coffee for each of us, was $100.

For most of our meal, we were the only diners in the place (save for the husband and children of one of the two owners), which is a real shame given the quality of the food and the value. We spoke to the owner for a while, mainly to gather some info so we could run a restaurant profile on Taste T.O. (having met the owners and staff previously, we felt that would be better than trying to do an anonymous review), and she said that they've been busy on weekends, but weeknights have been slow. So if you want to check it out, consider going on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

The prix fixe menu will remain for at least another week or so, after which more items will be added, but the prices will likely go up. They're also open for lunch during the week, and brunch on weekends, both featuring a different menu.

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  1. Forgot to mention that we were also served a tasty amuse bouche - two little crackers topped with cucumber, onion, yoghurt and tamarind.

    7 Replies
    1. re: gregclow

      Great review Greg, I guess you didn't manage to taste the Lassi?

      1. re: Suresh

        No, I thought about it, but went with wine & coffee instead. Next time!

        1. re: Suresh

          We had the lassi when we were there previously. I normally don't drink milk and stick to mango juice, but it was pretty awesome. Little bit of cardamom if I recall correctly - really made the mango flavour burst.

          1. re: SherylKirby

            Ah, that's right, we did try it on our first visit. We had a lot of wine that night as well, so I'd forgotten. ;)

            1. re: gregclow

              Checked out Indus last night and had a great experience. It was very quiet, perhaps too quiet but the food was excellent. The coconut-coriander chicken was amazing as was the madras salmon and eggplant main. The ingredients were fresh and the chicken (which can sometimes have dark fatty meat in a curry) was all white breast. The naan was possibly the best naan i have ever had. The wine menu is not extensive, neither is the beer list (which is a bit disappointing cause i like a good beer with indian) but the martinis were fabulous. Didn't have dessert so i can't offer comment there but i would come back in a heartbeat. Only request---some more ambience and atmosphere.

              1. re: ren horace

                We went to Indus Junction tonight and were delighted by the fresh delicious food. It was the best Indian meal I had had in a while. We split the lamb chops which were very tender and tasty with sliced apples on top, which were a nice addition. We also had the madras salmon curry, and I could not stop eating it even after I was full. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the sauce was spicy and a perfect consistency. On the side we had deliciously fluffy basmati rice and paratha. All of it was so good that I ate way past the point of being satiated. We also had a bottle of Gewurtzimminer and the total was $77 before tip. Tuesday night, so not too busy, but there were 5 other full tables while we ate, so more than half-full. Really good meal with nice servers. I highly recommend it, and can't wait to go back as there were plenty other dishes to try!

                1. re: melly mel

                  Hmm - must have made some changes as this differs from my experience. Portions were small (lamb chops?? - 2 lamb chops would exceed the size of any of my dishes), selection was tiny (maybe 6 mains total) and they were basically out of all beverages. And my bill was similar without alcohol (but including tax and tip)!
                  Guess I'll have to give it another try.

      2. i was there a couple months back and like the cadamom spiked lassi but wasn't overly impressed with anything passed that. it just seemed like gussied up indian food that often hit the mark well but didn't blow me away.

        the paneer appetizer was chalky and not very palate pleasing. i can't recall anyone else's apps.... the naan was nice and fluffy, the curries well spiced and balanced although nothing really sticks in my mind as being spectacular. i think what bothered me most was quantity for cost. $5 for rice and naan? ridiculous.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          I was looking for the modern twist, but when I checked it out it looked to me that the menu was just straight ahead Indian. (not that that is a bad thing, and the atmosphere looked nice, but it wasn't what i expected)

          1. re: alltummy

            We had a meal there last night and really enjoyed it. Was looking for the modern twist as well along the lines of Vig's in Vancouver, but got really amazing, and solid traditional Indian food with more modern presentation.

            For appetizers the tikka trio, and the zuchinni cakes were outstanding.

            For mains we had the cauliflower and paneer, the lamb korma, and the stuffed chicken breast. All were amazing with my fave being the chicken. The spicy sauce in the cauliflower was amazing and the naan helped out. Speaking of the naan it was probably the best I'd ever tasted. Tender and crispy in the right places too.

            We all got the rice pudding for dessert and it was good. Based on the raves here I was expecting a bit more. It was tasty but not really wowed by the seasoning. It's rice pudding so not sure what I was expecting, so probably a case of bloated expectatons than anything.

            On top of all the the service was perfect. Attentive but not intrusive, and great about answering questions on the menu.

            Four of use had a round of martinis, a bottle of wine and enough food to be fairly stuffed for about $240 after tip. We all really enjoyed the meal and will be back!