Vij’s (Vancouver)

Vikram Vij and his former wife Meeru Dhalwala opened Vij’s in 1994 in Vancouver they had a profound impact on Indian cuisine in Canada (and ultimately North American) and are recognized as one of the best Indian restaurants. Meeru was the less known driving force in the kitchen creating authentic Indian dishes with a modern twist and high quality ingredients. Over time Vikram is sometimes described as the Wolfgang Puck of Indian cuisine as he has built an empire of different restaurants, cookbooks, supermarket dishes etc.
One good effect of the pandemic is their recent start of accepting reservations and so that made it easy for us to had an outstanding dinner at Vij’s. Fantastic, vibrant flavors, each dish with unique flavor profiles, great, relaxed service and don’t sleep on the cocktails. One of the best Indian restaurants visits we ever had (including when we lived on England) and a must visit when in Vancouver.

A few complimentary snacks (with some nice masala chai) while you are trying to decide on the menu

Cauliflower, spinach & potato pakoras with date-tamarind chutney - Nice flavor combination which didn’t just taste of potato like many other pakoras and a really good chutney to balance

Beef & lamb kebobs with chutney & Indian masala ‘polenta’ - Wonderful smokey flavors with light, yet flavorful meat.

Garam masala portobello mushrooms in porcini cream curry - Stunningly good umami flavors, served with garlic naan.

Lingcod in ginger, onion, cumin curry with za’atar spice & winter squash - Nice punch of ginger in this curry, very good fish quality and the winter squash were a good addition

Chicken in creamy Bengali-style curry with spiced new potatoes and sprouted lentil salad - Tender chicken in a very flavorful curry. The sprouted lentils add an interesting earthy component and texture

Coconut curried vegetables on black chickpea & lentil brown rice pilaf - In many Indian restaurants many curries tend to taste quite similar but at Vij’s every one was completely different to the other one - this one with a nice coconut note and many different vegetables.

Naan - Not surprising, even the naan is great at Vij’s with a nice fluffiness

Coconut Rice Pudding - We finished the night with some desserts.

Mango Kulfi - Very good flavor (the edible silver a bit gimmicky)


@honkman was this on a vacation or do you live in this part of the country? If so, I don’t think I noticed that about you. I’m in Bellingham, which is only 30 miles or so shy of the border and an easy trip to Van, when the border isn’t closed. Your post makes me want to try Vij’s again. I didn’t know of it’s acclaim when we first did a total out of the blue drop-in. I found out later. This was about 10 yrs ago, and what I most remember is that everything we ordered was overwhelmingly spicy and nothing that our young kids could eat. Honestly, it was a challenge for me as well.

I’m curious, how would you rate the heat level of the menu, and how would you rate your own heat tolerance? I’m the one that removes the jalapeno slices from my bahn mi. Although I can stand a bit of heat. Just not much. That everyone squirts sriracha on everything with total abandon just bewilders me.

We are currently on a vacation (we live in San Francisco/Bay Area) - last few days in Vancouver, now Vancouver Island and afterwards also in Whistler.
We all are really not chili-heads and tend to have a relatively low tolerance wrt heat/spiciness but didn’t think that any of the dishes was too spicy. Our daughter (10 years old) also had no problems to eat all of the dishes - the vegetable curry was perhaps to hottest one but still easily manageable. You should definitely try Vij’s again - perhaps they have toned down the heat levels over the years

Thank you! I think we will!

Nice report. Thanks.

Kulfi ought to be icecream-like. Your bowl looks more porridgy, rather like a semolina pudding. Also, just in passing, it’s common for Indian sweets to be garnished with silver leaf.

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The kulfi in general had the right consistency once it started to melt a bit. Kulfi tends to be more icy than regular ice cream but this one was too icy (most likely stored at too low temperature).
And yes, we know that many Indian sweets are garnished with silver leaf but still find it pretentious (and not only in an Indian setting as we know a few western bakeries who are doing the same with their dishes (silver and gold leaves)

Looks delicious! I’ve been to his old Granville Street location and once to his new Cambie location. It’s the most memorable Indian meal I’ve ever had. There’s no reservation system. It’s a first come first serve so a line up can start an hour or more before opening. Well worth the experience.

They now have a reservation system