My hands down favourite restaurant in Vancouver is Vij’s and here’s why.
At Vij’s, you are forced to slow your pace and enjoy every single moment and sensation. There is no reservation list and all seating is based on a first come first served policy. Not every fine dining establishment would be daring enough to try this but it works here. To pass the time, sip drinks in the lounge or on their patio and enjoy an endless supply of delicious Indian snacks and chai both served on the house.
Opening for dinner every night at 5:30 pm, the line outside is a testament to its popularity and the first seating of the restaurant quickly fills up. I prefer to go a little later in the evening so I can enjoy drinks and appetizers before I am seated; it wouldn’t be a trip to Vij’s without pakoras!
The lighting is low in the restaurant and the volume is high. Although this type of dining environment might scare some people away, if you look around the room you’ll notice many different parties enjoying each other’s company.
Another thing that sets this restaurant apart from others is the way they serve you. Never pretentious and always conscientious, your table is serviced by all the service staff and yet I’ve never been left needing an item or having the same questions asked of me more than once. I still don’t know how they do this; it really is a feat in and of itself and I am not sure why it’s done this way, all I can say is that it works.
Vikram is a certified Sommelier and the wine list has been carefully crafted to match the menu. The locally made beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized and served in tall glasses which I love. Their signature cocktails are also incredibly delicious as are their non-alcoholic offerings.
So far, we have an experience quite different from your typical eatery and I haven’t even mentioned the food! (Oh wait, I did comment on the pakoras- don’t forget about the pakoras!) The all-female kitchen staff work all day preparing every single ingredient from scratch. Whole spices are roasted and ground and ghee, yoghurt, and cheeses are painstakingly house-made. They go to great lengths to source local meats, seafood and produce while representing the flavours and cooking techniques found throughout India. It isn’t typical Indian fare but with so many Indian restaurants in Vancouver, Vij’s offers a unique menu.
My go-to dish has always been the lamb popsicles. I am guilty of this wrongdoing but I can’t bring myself to try anything else. The smells emanating from other dishes are delightful but the lamb is so different from my cooking, prepared so wonderfully and cooked to tender perfection that it feels like a crime not to order it. I know the other dishes are tasty because I ask the other patrons what they eat or what they favour and although many, many people are in the same boat as me, there are those that branch out. One of these people is my better half who shares a similar problem but with the pork tenderloin! You can’t win here people, the food wins every time. The rice and naan bread that accompany the main dishes are refilled as you need and are equally delicious.
I’ve only had room for dessert once but I usually savour a mug of tea while enjoying the atmosphere. They never, ever rush you out the door despite the long waits to get a table and if Vikram himself is there he’ll be sure to pop by and thank you for coming in.
- The line starts forming at 5 pm for the first seating.
- Names can only be added to the wait-list in person.
- If you prefer not to wait at the restaurant, there are many shops on South Granville that can occupy your time.
- Estimated wait times are surprisingly accurate.
- If you sample too many of the free appetizers, you may fill up quicker than you think!
- Don’t be shy to order a bottle of wine while you wait- they will keep it safe for you behind the bar topping your glass as needed.
- Food cannot be ordered in the lounge or on the patio but you can keep your hunger at bay by trying the snacks.
Vij’s is located at 1480 West 11th Ave, Vancouver, BC. Phone 604-736-6664