Champions of adhering to traditional recipes and culinary practices, a father-and-son team serves as both the owners and head chefs of New Passage to India. Their kitchen staff whips up dishes native to a variety of Indian regions, granting diners a taste of the subcontinent without the paper cuts that come from eating maps. They handcraft ingredients such as house-made paneer cheese, garden-fresh mushrooms, and fresh lamb with pinches of hand-ground spices. Sensitive to varied tolerances of piquancy, the chefs customize the heat levels of many of their creations to individual preferences. Affable servers wend from table to table within the dining room’s deep-green walls and wooden columns.
Beef, turkey, and ham covered in mozzarella cheese and tucked into a ciabatta bun. Hot Tommy’s specialty sandwich, the Wrangler, may not appear to have the same Mexican flavour profile as its fellow menu items until diners take a bite. Inside, a drizzle of hot black-bean sauce brings the spicy flavour that weaves the eatery’s whole menu together. Chicken enchiladas and banana-pepper-covered nachos recall the hot sun and natural hot-sauce springs found closer to the equator, and chili dogs and a bavarian sausage slathered in barbecue sauce blend a hint of old Europe into the mix.
Nando's Flame-Grilled Chicken, founded in South Africa in 1987, brings Portugal's peri-peri flame-grilled chicken to the Vancouver area with only the bare minimum of laser lights and smoke-shrouded, two-way mirrors. Discovered by Portuguese explorers in Africa in the distant days of maritime exploration, peri-peri is a fiery chili pepper that adds a kick of capsaicin to any cuisine, clucker-related or not. Nando's fresh chicken breasts luxuriate in their peri-peri marinade for 24 hours, resulting in dishes with a slate of Scoville-scale-scorching spice levels—mild lemon and herb, medium, hot, and the daredevil-only extra hot. Step up to Nando's counter to order from the menu of sandwiches, pitas, wraps, salads, and peri-peri chicken. Enjoy a grilled-to-order peri-peri half-chicken with a side ($11.39) such as spiced rice or hearty coleslaw, or bite around basted bones with a dozen peri-peri chicken wings with a side ($9.99). Nando's also sports peri-peri chicken breast sandwiches or pitas ($8.49–$10.79), chicken or veggie whole wheat wraps with a side ($8.49–10.79), and veggie burgers or pitas ($8.49–$10.79), as well as salads and salad meals ($3.99–$9.99) for lovers of leaves of lettuce.
For lunch or dinner, the Abbotsford location of Pita Pit offers a variety of stuffed pita options ($4.49-$7.79). Favourites include the meaty gyro, or unhinge your jaw and try the Dagwood club with turkey, ham, and roast beef, or the chicken crave with chicken and ham. Vegetarians can also find delicious items on the menu, such as the falafel or hummus pitas. If your nonconformist stomach refuses to be satiated by any of the menu items, build your own pita and choose from a potpourri of stuffings, including pickles, mushrooms, jalapeños, pineapple, croutons, tzatziki, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, and wishes.
Before diners place their orders at Thai D'or waiters will often inquire, "Can you handle spicy food?" True to Thai culinary techniques, many of its dishes brim with fiery spices and chili-infused sauces, but chefs are eager to adjust spice content to suit each individual palate. Named for the French word for gold, the Thai restaurant lives up to its title with its fresh, authentically prepared curries, noodles, and specialties and its commitment to cultural traditions of hospitality. Servers bear blended cocktails and simmering meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes into the dining room, where guests recline on cushy leather chairs beneath the glow of red lanterns. Eastern decor adorns the wall, and water trickles down from stone mosaics. The restaurant opens its function room to private parties, designing customized menus for family gatherings, business meetings, and kindergarten graduations.
The coffee-drinking cultures of Seattle and Old World Europe intertwine at The Wired Monk. Baristas swirl steamed milk into organic, fair-trade coffee drinks, which guests sip beside hand-painted art and a roaring fireplace. Meanwhile, the scent of cinnamon rolls wafts from the bakery case, past aromatic tea leaves by Zhena Gypsy and Mighty Leaf. Red espresso, a roobois tea from the mountains of South Africa, fills caffeine-free lattes with flavours as bold and smooth as a saxophone’s pick-up lines. Healthy treats such as fruit smoothies and gluten-free muffins round out the menu with a touch of sweetness. The sound of tapping toes fills the shop on Thursday nights, when artists such as Harma White and Vaughan McKay flaunt their rock ’n’ roll chops. Large-screen TVs draw sports fans to the couches on game days, and drink specials lure wine lovers on Wednesday nights.