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Jul 2, 2009 09:57 AM

First time at Vij's

My wife and I ate a Vij's for the first time last night and it was one of the best meals of my life. We drank some wine on the patio while we waited for our table which was very pleasant. We enjoyed chatting with the other people that were also waiting. We asked Vikram to order 2 appetizers and 2 mains for us and he made excellent choices. For apps he sent us the prawns and the samosas and for the mains he sent us the braised beef short ribs and the lamb popsicles. Everything was cooked and seasoned absolutely perfectly. I can't even remember the last time I had a meal where there was nothing to complain about. For me the real standouts of the meal were the sauce that came with the samosas(I could have eaten a big bowl of just the sauce with some naan and rice and been happy) and the greens that come with the braised short ribs. They were marinated and grilled and had an incredible smoky flavor. Vikram also chose 2 bottles of red wine for us, one before dinner and one during and both his choices were excellent. I am definitely planning to make a regular trip to Vij's from now on.

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  1. It's good to see a great review of Vij's which, as you know, doesn't get much love on this board (deserving or not). It sounded like a perfect meal. I may need to go back soon to update my own thoughts on the place.

    13 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      Really??? I went to Vij's last year and reported a fabulous meal. I loved it.

      1. re: sarah galvin

        It has a similar rep to Tojo's know: "overrated", "overpriced", "overhyped", etc.

        I've been a number of times (starting way back at their old location) and have had some great and not so great meals there. I have been hearing nothing but good things lately, however. There is no denying that they set a very high bar for service.

        1. re: fmed

          Personally, I enjoyed Vij's a lot more than Tojo's. I could really see how the reviews could vary a lot depending on what was ordered. I've been to Vij's on my last two visits to Vancouver. During my first visit, we shared the mutton kebabs as an appetizer. It was alright.. nothing spectacular. For entrees we had the duck and the lamb popsicles. Both my friend and I agreed the flavour of lamb popsicles were phenomenal but the duck was just ok at best (both of us didn't care for the flavours of the duck dish). On my recent visit to Vij's last week, we had the spot prawns with lemon curry and the garam masala sauteed portabello mushrooms in the porcini cream curry as appetizers. While the spot prawns itself were tasty I didn't care for the other elements of the dish. The portabello mushrooms were to die for! We had the lamb popsicles for an entree and it was just as spectacular as I had remembered it to be. For dessert I tried the Thomas Haas chocolates. They were ok.. but didn't have a wow factor. I definitely would go back to Vij's on my future visits to Van.. I also know that for sure I would order the portabello mushrooms and the lamb popsicles again!

          But I could totally see how if I only tried the duck dish and the mutton kebabs or the spot prawns, my review of Vij's might not be as stellar.

          Personally I think Vij's is great value for the quality of service it delivers. I'm actually pleasantly surprised at how reasonably priced the lamb popsicle dish is. For that calibre of restaurant, I normally wouldn't expect to be able to order lamb for under $35. Hence, I don't really feel that they are overpriced at all.

          1. re: fmed

            If I recall correctly, a lot of the lack of love is over the reservation issue. I doubt he would have many cancellations so I do not understand why he doesn't take them--I don't think it adds to the rep of the place.

            1. re: J and V

              I think that's part of it, but I've heard comments about the "lack of authenticity" and the relatively small portions. I'm still a pretty firm Vij's fan but I do find myself hesitating at the thought of the wait and lately have been hitting Rangoli instead when I go. Personally I've had poultry dishes there that didn't float my boat (overcooked) and I do think that by and large I prefer the veg dishes especially if they involve some kind of dumpling. But I think the love for the lamb popsicles is justified, even though I'm not a big lamb fan. So like miss.foodie, I'd say it has a lot to do with what you order, which is not so different from a lot of restaurants I frequent. It's rare to find a place that does every single dish well and to your taste, I guess. I do love the graciousness of the service which reminds me of Bishops which I suppose is no coincidence. I'll never forget going to Vij's original place on Broadway for the second time, and having him recite what I ordered on our first visit from memory, though it had been several weeks earlier. Oops, chow crush revealed!

              1. re: grayelf

                It is good to hear some positive things. I've heard so much about Vij's, both online and via TV, while living here in Edmonton and I actually skipped it on my last visit because it didn't seem to be impressing a lot of people here. Good to hear you had fantastic time!

                1. re: raidar

                  I think a lot of people expect an authentic Indian restaurant, but Vij's isn't. He's a French trained chef and the food reflects that. It has a lot of authentic Indian food and flavours as well as a lot of french technique.

                  1. re: tdeane

                    Agreed. I have eaten there and absolutely loved it, but I knew ahead of time what to expect in terms of food style. "Authentic" it isn't, if by authentic you mean what I eat in my sister-in-law's house. It IS delicious. I am still dreaming of their lamb popsicles and some chocolates laced with chili I had there...

                    btw, my husband, who is from India and is VERY picky about Indian restaurants, loved it. FWIW.

                    1. re: janetofreno

                      I see those lamb popsicles on the Foodnetwork all the time, and with all your talking about them I've got a mean craving!!

                    2. re: tdeane

                      French Food with Indian ingredients or Indian Food with French Technique - either description works for me.

                      1. re: fmed

                        A french chef returning to his Indian roots is another.I would say the food was more Indian than French(for sure) but a love of French cooking was very evident. Braised short ribs, sable fish, lamb chops with the bone frenched(spelling?) all seem pretty pretty french to me but the sauces were all very Indian. Even the snacks served on the patio were very french Indian fusion. Except for the pakoras, they were just good pakoras. Actually very good pakoras. I can't remember that last time I had pakoras that weren't dry. These weren't.

                  2. re: grayelf

                    I agree with miss.foodie and grayelf. We enjoy Vij's but unless you are prepared to wait a couple of hours having a glass of wine in the sun you might not enjoy the meal as much afterwards. Not all dishes are created ( or executed) equal but overall it is a unique culinary experience. Our lunches at Rangoli have never disappointed us and we rarely visit Vancouver without eating at one of the Vij's restaurants.

                    I also like Vij's cookbook which has elevated my "indian" cooking to a new level, best lamb curry I have cooked ( despite the two tablespoons of salt the recipe calls for which Vij said it is a printing error- I asked him while waiting for dinner)

                    1. re: felix the hound

                      I have the Vij's cookbook too and it does have some typos/off amounts. There are a few curries where you end up with enough liquid to bathe in if you follow the directions exactly :-) but like both his restos I'm willing to put up with a few glitches for the overall experience. The only time we ever waited more than an hour was after the review in the NYTimes (shoulda known better than to go right after that was published!). But then again we tend to go a half hour before opening to avoid the line which still means a wait of some kind and is not always possible...

          2. I liked the service of 2 or 3 small bites to tide one over until the order arrived. I also enjoyed that it wasn't totally authentic but the fusion idea. It isn't that difficult to find good authentic Indian but a creative twist is fun.

            1. Oh yay, its nice to read something nice about Vij's. Haven't braved the line-ups for years, but I'm craving it now!

              1. How do you pronounce this restaurant's name?

                4 Replies
                1. re: Jetgirly

                  Vij = Veej

                  and Vij's is Veej-uhs.

                  1. re: fmed

                    That's what I figured, but someone keeps inviting me to "vee-jays". :)

                    1. re: Jetgirly

                      A friend of mine says it that way too, the first time she said it I was like "where's that?" and she told me and I went "ohhhhh Veej-uhs" I never did get around to asking her why she pronounces it like that.

                      1. re: starlady

                        Well after waiting for several years to finally go because I never had the time to wait for hours to eat, finally did on my birthday on Friday, We had to wait for 2 hours for a table, but the experience was great - ate some complimentary appetizers, talked to some interesting people and the 2 hours went by quite fast. The dinner was fantastic - great samosas, short ribs and lamb popsicles and a complimentary beef tenderloin as they brought it in error first instead of the short ribs. Amazing meal and service and I have to put it up there with the top three restaurant dining experiences I've had in my life. We will be returning. It is nice to see a "celebrity chef" restaurant owner of his stature still working the floor and he really makes the dining experience memorable along with his staff. Great birthday - gorgeous day at the beach, dinner at Vij's and then my honey gave me a Staub pot and a gorgeous Shun santoku knife - a foodies dream birthday and one of my best!!!!