Edmonton RROTM - November: Zaika
Hi Edmontonian Chowhounds,
here are the details for our November restaurant review of the month. Hopefully we can get lots of reviews on this one. I think there were only a couple on the last months!
Restaurant: Zaika Indian Bistro bar
2303 Ellwood Drive
Please post your reviews as a reply to this post at the end of the month.
Thanks! & happy chowing!
Had dinner there on thursday with the wife, the drink special was any bottle $4 so we enjoyed a Singha and a Stella. We both decided on the buffet as it looked very good and fresh. The fish pakora was salmon and looked excellent but the flavor turned out to be pretty bland. The samosas were very tasty and the only complaint I have was i wish there was more dip selection for these as they were missing my favorite kind (not sure what it is called but it is kind of a jelly consistency that is sweet with a bit of spice). The butter chicken was very good, dal was very good, the nan bread was good but i like when they cook it in front of you (no oven in the dining room), lamb curry was okay, rice pudding was good they also had some traditional sweets that i can not comment on as i still have not developed a taste for these. The service was excellent, attentive but not to much so and the price was very reasonable. I definitely go back as this is very close to my house and its nice to see that the area is getting a few non chain restaurants unlike south edmonton common. (will try to work on my review writing skills as it does not compare to some of the reviews posted last month from others)
re: Dan G
going to be away for the rest of the month, so I am posting now :)
We went early on in the month (4 of us) on a Sunday night. There were lots of big groups there, but we got in right away (6:30pm), no reservations
I did some research ahead of time about their wine list and I was impressed with their deliberate choice of wines that compliment Indian food. I am glad that I did this as our waitress did not really seem like she new a lot about the wine.
The service was prompt and friendly, until the end when we went to get our bill, our server had disappeared.
We all went buffet. I was hoping to do a la carte but could not convince the rest of them. We did order a paneer dish and garlic naan off the menu. The paneer was delicious, rich and creamy with lots of peas. The garlic naan was not as garlicky as in other Indian restos. The buffet is comprehensive, butter chicken, tandoori, pakora, samosa, naan, chana masala, veg korma, goat curry etc. The spice level is definitely toned down, the only one with heat was the eggplant dish. Overall the buffet was good, the best was the fish pakora. my major complaint was the heat, the buffet was warm, not hot, which is one of the reasons I don't like buffets. The dishes were tasty though.
I wonder if you ordered the items that are found on the buffet as an a la carte dish, if you get fresh, or just what they are making for the buffet? This is the problem I see with having a buffet every night.
I only go out for Indian about 1x/year. I think considering where it is, I would probably go somewhere closer. It really did not seem any different/better or worse than the other places I have been. I am really not a connoisseur of Indian food though.
This almost worked out. All the way down for lunch one day, even had a peek inside, and a very last minute change of plans had me leaving the premises. I doubt I'll get back in the next few days. It looked pretty sharp inside, which might come with the area (new developments etc..).The takeout menu I grabbed seemed to have the usual assortment of offerings, but then again, I somehow missed the website until now...To December!
Well, I might as well chip in with my 2 cents worth, or 4 since I was there twice.
First visit…found it hard to find! Monday night around 7 pm,not very busy. Decided to opt for the buffet as probably the best way to try a variety of dishes, and it was a good price.
Buffet was, generally, very good. Came with fresh made naan, delivered to the table. Just plain, not one of the many varieties they offer, but very good as naan goes.
Buffet had standard fare, plus a few interesting items you don’t see everywhere, such as paneer makhani (cheese in tomato sauce), which was delicious, and goat curry which I skipped. Though the serving dishes look big, they aren’t very deep so they get refilled often, keeping things like the samosas and rice fresh and hot. There seemed to be someone from the kitchen attending to it at all times. Only thing that I tried that didn’t work well was fish pakora that were tasty, but lacked crispness. Tandoori chicken was moist and meaty.
Butter chicken was extremely good, wife raved about the channa masala and the bhangan bhartha ( I was going for meat, skipped the veggie items!). All the curries had good sauces, texture wise, creamy, not thin or oily…. And something, or things, had heat, I think it was the paneer and butter chicken, oddly enough.
Dessert…Had a variety of dessert squares which were interesting…can’t say I liked all of them but that is probably more about me than the quality of the desserts. However, the ras mala, cheese dumplings soaked in a sweetened, thickened milk delicately flavored with cardamom was a hit. Odd…can’t say I liked every bite, but that is what makes it so interesting…the way it varied- would definitely have again.
Things that could be improved – maybe a rice other than plain. Salad bar was a bit lacking, but who really goes to an Indian buffet for salad bar.
Unfortunately, woke up around 4 am with absolutely killer heartburn, not sure what to blame it on.
Second visit, again a Monday night, this time much busier though, and again couldn’t resist the buffet. Some items same…this time naan was on the buffet, they said if they aren’t busy they deliver, but on busy nights leave it out. Got fresh pakora – far better when crispy. Veggie korma had interesting variety of veggies, including baby corn, mushrooms, paneer – thick, lots of vegetables, very flavourful. Yellow dal was a bit lackluster, runny. Eggplant dish was great though, very flavourful and sinus-cleaningly spicy. Basa coconut curry had great sauce, but basa isn’t that interesting – more of a delivery for sauce than a good fish. Butter chicken was similar to previous, but this time had a deep smoky tandoori flavour, maybe best I have ever had on a buffet.
Desserts – banana pudding was good, rice pudding a bit bland, more of those odd Indian sweet balls…good, but I don’t think I will ever really like Indian desserts.
Overall, I think it was very good. Will get around to actual menu some day! Since I live in the south end and it is just a jaunt down the Henday, can see me returning. How does it compare to others…probably liked it better than Dawat’s buffet, better than I remember New Asian (haven’t been in a few years because I didn’t think it was very good). Valuewise, very good.
Have seen comments about the decor, how it is modern, different, etc. Well, it actually just looks like a normal restaurant, dark wood, chrome, leather. In one way, it is a nice change from the traditional Indian decor, but also I don't like the homogeneity...
I checked out Zaika at lunch time on a Sunday. I went for the buffet to try out as many dishes as possible. Sunday at lunch was slow, so my guess is the food sat for a while before I ate it. The food was warm and not hot.
Here’s my take on the buffet dishes I tried.
Butter chicken was spicy but not rich so not typical. It’s supposed to be buttery, creamy and tomatoey! Disappointing.
The chicken biryani rice was spicy hot and not particularly flavourful. Disappointing
Paneer with corn and mushrooms, tasty and spicy. Very good.
Chili fish-tasted spicy and flavourful. Yum.
Vegetable pakoras-heavy and not overly flavourful, likely the result of sitting out for too long and over battered.
Black chick peas-nice spicy flavour. Very good.
Lamb stew- Very good lots of flavour, nice sauce that I mopped up with the naan.
Mango chutney was good, but spicy hot.
Tried a pickled vegetable of some sort, not sure what but it was tasty.
Basmati rice, naan and popadum were good, standard Indian fare and prepared competently.
The salad bar, dessert bar and assorted chutneys all had a decent variety but NO LABELS. The Indian dishes need to be labelled. Also, what’s with the bacon bits, packaged croutons and the Greek salad? Blech. Put more Indian dishes out, how about (Indian) carrot salad?
Rice pudding very good and flavoured with pistachios and cardomom(?) Tasty!
Chai tea, OK but nothing memorable.
I usually go to India Grill on 99th St. Different dishes but about the same in terms of variety. I like spicy hot food, but not just for the sake of the heat. There has to be flavour too!
I would try it Zaika again and if it were busy, I’d give the buffet another shot, otherwise I would order off the menu.