Weaving a tapestry of authentic subcontinental dishes, the chefs at Maurya Indian Cuisine incorporated ingredients from across India’s varied regions. The country’s street food vendors are represented by the toasted potato and pea-cake appetizers; Goa is represented by spicy chicken, lamb, or beef vindaloo; and the tastes of South India make an appearance in the coconut- and poppy seed–flavoured chettinad paste. The restaurant’s base sauce—a mix of five sauces— flavours hearty, shareable portions of lamb, chicken, fish, and goat. The bistro also keeps vegetarians sated with eats that include black lentils slow-cooked overnight and several styles of naan, including one that is equipped with WiFi.
Food arrives with a choice of ambiance. One is the well-lit dining room decked out with long drapes suspended from a high ceiling. The other is served on the eatery’s patio, complete with its own chef who tends to the outdoor tandoor oven. Whether indoors or out, the staff maintains a high standard of professionalism, earning an array of positive press mentions, including Dine Out Vancouver's Best Bite award for service in 2010.
Pradeep is in the kitchen of Spice Up Indian Cuisine, putting the finishing touches on an order of his signature nine-bean curry. He leans over the stove, inhaling deeply as the rich fragrance of ginger, garlic, and roasting spices rises up from the bubbling pan. It's ready. Gingerly, he ladles the tender lamb and plump beans into a glistening white bowl, then tops the dish off with a sprinkle of crisp green herbs for good measure.
Pradeep spends most of his days in this manner, folding fresh ingredients into the traditional dishes of his culinary heritage alongside his wife, Reshma. The duo prepare their dishes fresh to order, from their creamy butter chicken to their fiery prawn vindaloo. They bake up batches of naan each day, brushing the bread with freshly cut garlic and rosemary. The chefs even extend their culinary expertise toward a variety of vegan specialties—completely free of meat, dairy, and chicken, duck, or dragon eggs. The colourful dishes stand out amid the dining room's white tablecloths and vibrant tapestries.
In addition to staunchly refusing to use anything but high-quality, low-fat ingredients, the head chef at Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen strives for perfection in every aspect of his work. As a native of Gorkha, he takes a cue from the Nepali soldiers, or Gurkhas, renowned for their loyalty, courage, and dedication to the pursuit of perfection. He channels these traits into his cooking, dishing out a lineup of authentic Nepalese and Tibetan dishes. He specializes in the traditional Nepalese meal, which normally consists of daal-bhaat (lentils and rice), chutney, and other meats and vegetables. Even though he expertly crafts meaty dishes, such as lamb chili and goat sautéed in Nepali curry sauce, he doesn't neglect herbivores—he also prepares vegetarian-friendly creations, such as quati, a dish that mixes together nine bean sprouts and possesses the distinction of being his personal favourite.
Though patrons only visit three restaurants during the Around the World Food Tour, their taste buds travel on a global expedition. Each jaunt begins at Caribbean eatery The Reef, where participants sample plantain chips, a curried chickpea dish, coco prawns, and jerk wings that are surprisingly kind to hunger pangs. Diners can pair offerings with housemade ginger beer, a pineapple shake, or house wine before moving on to Bua Thai Cuisine. Once inside the welcoming, multihued confines, they can dig into classic dishes such as pad thai and chicken satay while sipping Thai–style iced tea and young coconut juice. The final stop, Siddhartha's Indian Kitchen, rewards bellies with potato cakes, vegetable and chicken pakora, chai tea, and house wine or beer.
The dishes are all vegetarian at Sargam House Restaurant, and some are even vegan. The dinner menu is rife with fragrant North Indian dishes, crafted with housemade paneer and simmering in sauces made fragrant with green chilies and fenugreek, rather than a teaspoonful of Chanel No. 5. South Indian plates fire up the palate with dosas stuffed with spicy potatoes and utthappam topped with chili and tomatoes. Lunchtime means a buffet, which boasts no fewer than seven curries as the kitchen delivers fresh-baked dosas to each table.