Walking into New Asian Village in St. Albert feels a bit like walking into a palace. Gilded statues greet you at the entrance, some holding their hands in prayer as another offers a bowl. Of course, the bowl's contents aren't edible—but a true feast is waiting just inside the dining room. After guests take their seats in bronze leather booths or scrolled wooden chairs, they peruse a menu lush with East Indian cuisine.
These specialties are just as sumptuous as the decor. Asli butter chicken is served in an ambrosial tomato gravy, thickened with generous portions of butter and cream. The vegetarian apna navratan korma is the restaurant's most recommended dish, featuring a "rainbow" of vegetables and homemade paneer. Samosas and 18 types of tandoori bread serve as delectable sides, ensuring that stomachs become as full and satisfied as the heart of a newly reformed Grinch.
New Asian Village feels like a palace, and it's not only the lofty two-story ceilings,
long, elegant tables, or impressive columns flanking the entrance that give that impression. Silk curtains surround guests in individual areas, imparting privacy, a sense of luxury, and an appreciation for the cultivation of silk fields that goes into making a silk curtain. But the true sign of decadence is the food. An intricate tiled backsplash surrounds chefs as they create curries using traditional East Indians recipes, crafting each fiery bowl of lamb curry with fresh ingredients. Pillowy pieces of naan accompany meals, and guests are encouraged to scoop up chunks of chicken or vegetables hot from the tandoori oven with the flavorful bread while listening to sitar music.
Decorated with white linens and elegant statues, Haweli's transplants India's varied, spicy dishes to an eatery emulating the opulence of a haweli —a place where ancient Indian royalty met to indulge in fine dining. In each kitchen, native Indian chefs fuse the rich spices and flavours of North Indian cuisine into authentic curries, rice-based biryanis, and clay-oven-baked tandoori entrees. They also have a Classical Musical Night that occurs every Saturday starting at 6:30pm.
Surrounded by the bustle of the Oliver Square district, Bistro India sends tantalizing aromas of Southern Indian spices wafting out from inside its 100-year-old renovated edifice. Inside, Indian chefs whip up a variety of dishes unique to southern India's coastal region, infusing meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes with splashes of coconut milk, dashes of spicy byadgi chilies, and sprigs of curry leaves. Clay ovens bake tandoori dishes and a wide variety of flavourful naan breads, and chefs turn their attention to masalas, biryani rice, and dosa dishes. They demonstrate culinary creativity with a menu of fusion dishes, such as a tandoor-baked burger and a marinated rack of lamb.
Southern dishes pair with fine wines and specialty cocktails out in the chic dining room decorated with flowing orange tapestries, textured walls, and handsome wooden trim. An attentive serving staff bustles about the dining room, jotting down orders while taking care to note requests from diners who prefer milder spices or desire their food to be arranged in the shape of a happy face.
Monica Kapur says that her biggest challenge in opening Naanolicious was getting the 1,300-pound tandoor to fit through the restaurant's door. "We had to get a crane," she explained to Edmonton Journal writer Nick Lees. Putting in the extra effort was worth it, though, much like successfully eating an entire meal using only your elbows. That hefty clay oven is responsible for baking more than 20 flavours of naan, some of which dabble in fusion flavours that range from iced blueberry to pepperoni and mushroom.
Kapur's eatery, which offers Bollywood Night once a month and stays open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, is known for its naan, but servers wrapped in saris carry more than the fluffy bread to diners' tables. Other favourites include butter-chicken fries, fish pakoras fried in lentil batter, and vodka gol gappas—crispy shells filled with spiced or guava-laced vodka.
Inside Origin India, soft lighting cascades across crimson-colored walls and drapery. They are open late on Friday's and Saturdays until 3 a.m. and offer a lunch and dinner buffet 7 days a week. It's an intimate, yet welcoming environment, and one that invites diners to experiment with some of India's most-famous dishes. The menu is essentially divided into two halves: meaty entrees and vegetarian specialties. The former includes plates built around chicken, beef, lamb, fish, or shrimp, including curries, vindaloos, and kebabs. Vegetarian creations, meanwhile, include aloo gobi and baingan bhartha—smoked eggplant that's cooked with veggies and flavored with ginger, herbs, and spices, which is the name of Simon and Garfunkel's next hit.