New Delhi, the capital city of India, was the ruling seat of the Mogul or Mughal empire (Muslim dynasty of Turkic-Mongol origin) for centuries. Mughals were known for their refined tastes in food, language and architect. The modern day Delhi is still soaked in those royal tastes. In fact most of the Indian dishes including Tandoori Kebabs or the famous butter chicken that have now risen to universal acclaim have their origins somewhere in the Mughal era.
Being born and brought up in this city, my palate too was used to the food, that leaves a long lasting refined taste of smooth curries blended with cashew nuts, butter, cream and Indian spices. For initial years after settling down in Vancouver, I used to crave for that aromatic food.
Who knew my search would end here in Swad Indian Kitchen. Located in the heart of West Vancouver, the restaurant claims to stand for its unique Indian menu which says: “Each dish tells the story of a beautiful place steeped in ancient cultures.”
Swad’s literal meaning is taste. True to its name and claim, the restaurant is indeed dishing out recipes from all across India (not limiting itself to North western region of Punjab) giving them an innovative twist with the unique Mughal taste. In one single trip to this restaurant you can travel to the heart of Delhi with its specialities like Dal Maharani or Butter Chicken, extreme North with Kashmiri Korma or Rogan Josh, Southern India with its special chicken Chettinad or try tastes of Goa and Mumbai with Mumbai Machali or prawn curry made with coconut milk.
But one can ask how would all those essential sharp Indian tastes suite a Canadian palate trained for mild foods. “They do,” says the confident owner of the restaurant, Kamal Mroke. “I told my chefs to cut back on butter and salt to customize the dishes for Canadians.” Mroke says his aim is to serve fresh and healthy menu with love.
We were greeted by Mroke and the very friendly staff who took pride in what they were serving. First came the appetizers Cauliflower 65 and Paneer Taka Tak. The first on the table — Cauliflower 65 (small florets marinated with honey and chilli) takes its cue from a very famous South Indian appetizer Chicken 65. Being a vegetarian myself, I used to feel secluded in friends gatherings when they boasted of eating Chicken 65, but after eating its vegetarian version at Swad, I feel part of the gang.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”3.25″ custom_padding=”|||” custom_padding__hover=”|||”][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.27.4″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” text_orientation=”center” module_alignment=”center” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider show_divider=”off” disabled_on=”on|on|off” admin_label=”Divider” _builder_version=”3.23.4″ height=”2px” hide_on_mobile=”on”][/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.27.4″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” text_orientation=”center” module_alignment=”center” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider show_divider=”off” disabled_on=”on|on|off” admin_label=”Divider” _builder_version=”3.23.4″ height=”2px” hide_on_mobile=”on”][/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.27.4″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider show_divider=”off” disabled_on=”on|on|off” admin_label=”Divider” _builder_version=”3.23.4″ height=”2px” hide_on_mobile=”on”][/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.27.4″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” text_orientation=”center” module_alignment=”center” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider show_divider=”off” disabled_on=”on|on|off” admin_label=”Divider” _builder_version=”3.23.4″ height=”2px” hide_on_mobile=”on”][/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.27.4″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” text_orientation=”center” module_alignment=”center” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.0.6″][et_pb_column _builder_version=”4.0.6″ type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.0.6″ hover_enabled=”0″]
The main course too was full of fresh vegetables cooked in cashew nut curry accompanied by soft and flaky breads. Guiding us through to our journey was the very hospitable staff and Mroke himself who did not let us leave without tasting their dessert Mango pistachio ice cream. “I can guarantee, you will never find this unique dessert all over Canada. I invented it myself,” he said. Mroke, himself is a trained seasoned chef and an experience restaurateur.
Mroke has been in the restaurant business for over 25 years. He arrived in Vancouver from his native Punjab in the early 80s plunged himself into the restaurant business as a bus boy and dishwasher while going to school to become a chef. His first business was a cafe in a North Vancouver motel in 1986 after which he operated restaurants in Calgary and Seattle which were frequented by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Paul Allen. In the Lower Mainland, Mroke had Handi in North Vancouver, Dawat in East Vancouver, Copper Chimney in Downtown Vancouver before opening India Bistro on Davie street.
In 2015, Mroke decided to open Swad. The restaurant may be very young in age in an old established street of West Vancouver that boasts of many other old eating joints, it is not unknown and not struggling to establish its identity. Swad has already earned its credits amongst the locals of West Vancouver who love to come and spend their evenings in a cozy elegant ambiance. “People just do not come here to eat and leave. They come here to relax. They have their drinks then order a full three course meal,” Mroke says.
Suzanne a resident of West Vancouver, who was visiting with her husband was hosting her parents visiting from Nanaimo. She is no stranger to this place. “Me and my husband discovered this place quite late. But when we discovered it, we came here thrice in that week,” she said. She loves the cozy interiors and of course the food.
The Palak Kofta (dumplings, deep-fried, with layers of spinach, Indian style cheese and gram), Mooghdum Kebab (bone in chicken thigh marinated in yogurt and cashew nut sauce), Mango chicken (chicken coated in mango sauce) are some of the favourites of this couple. In fact all the dishes she listed are top selling menu items of this place.
All the dishes on the menu have unique names just like their unique tastes.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row” _builder_version=”3.25″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.25″ custom_padding=”|||” custom_padding__hover=”|||”][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.27.4″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]
Support Our Surrey (SOS): Jolly Mac’s Pub is BACK!
Jolly Mac’s Pub has re-opened its doors as of June 1! You can visit them at 14817 108 Avenue, Surrey, BC. A 30+ year cornerstone in the Guildford/Fleetwood neighbourhood, patrons were eagerly waiting to return to one of their favourite hang-outs. I overheard one guest keenly tell their friend about the renovations they noticed since the closing, along with other changes that had been made to take care of their patrons’ health and safety.
For those visiting the pub, please take a moment to read the sign on the entrance that outlines the changes that have been made in order to help staff and guests navigate the ‘new norm’.
After you walk in, you’ll notice the hand sanitizer available to guests, and the plexi-glass guards hung all around the bar. If you’re a regular, you’ll also notice that there are a few less tables and plexi-glass partitions between booths – owner, Steve McDonald, shared that 5 tables in the lower seating area have been removed in order to accommodate the 2 meter requirement of social distancing, the upper area is opened when necessary and guests are spaced out accordingly (great for those waiting to get back to their Thursday Wing nights; there’s still room!), and condiments are brought out as needed so there’s no waste (if something isn’t’ used, for
safety, it gets disposed of); please be patient and wait for a seat – once guests vacate a table a sign goes up for cleaning before other guests can sit down.
Jolly Mac’s decided to temporarily close their doors on March 19, ahead of provincial requirements, and like all businesses that closed, the weight of uncertainty was heavy. While business may seem like it’s returned to normal, there is still very much a ‘learn as we go’ approach – a lot has changed since the closure and like many establishments out there, Jolly Mac’s is doing their best to keep operations as smooth as possible.
Fortunately, and unfortunately, the liquor store was able to remain opened during lock-down, however that also meant that they did not qualify for the wage subsidies, leaving members of their team to collect CERB and EI. Now that they’ve reopened, some have decided not to return, leaving Jolly Mac’s short on staff in an already hustle-and-bustle environment, and now one that can change overnight amidst COVID conditions.
Side note: Jolly Mac’s does have opening for servers, bartenders, and cooks – please apply within.
I moved into the Guildford/Fleetwood neighbourhood not that long ago, and Jolly Mac’s re-opening was actually the first time I’ve had the chance to check it out. I had passed by it numerous times on my transit route, and finally got the opportunity to visit when my husband was looking for places that serve breakfast, as places started to re-open. Beer? While I eat breakfast?
That isn’t cooked by me? Sign me up! We each ordered the Breakfast Sampler and it was delicious – our first re-opening breakfast. If you’re looking for something smaller, Jolly Mac’s also offers a full breakfast for $5.50!
Then I went back last weekend for my pub favourite – beer and nachos – they always taste better in a pub. You know what there’s no substitute for? REAL Happy Hour (Zoom ones just don’t cut it) – everyday between 3pm and 6pm, you can get 2 for 1 appies!
For those who’ve been waiting for it to re-open – it’s time to go! For those who’ve never been – GO! And FYI, they also have a loyalty program that applies to both pub and liquor store – you can redeem $5 for every 10,000 points you earn; every $1 earns you 20 points. Just by signing up you get 10,000 points to start. You can find their hours and menu here , and on Facebook – Jolly Mac’s Pub.
See you there – cheers!
Dear readers: As BC begins to re-open, it’s a great opportunity for businesses to welcome us back – please reach out to share local businesses that are now open so we can feature them and make sure our community knows how we can Support Our Surrey.
Support Our Surrey (SOS): Sushi King George
Anyone been craving sushi during lockdown? I have! I’m happy to share that one of Surrey’s most popular sushi establishments will be re-opening soon! Sushi King George (located at 10344 King George Boulevard) is aiming to open their doors again in a few weeks! I spoke with manager, Danny K, and he is expecting table service to re-open in mid- to late-June.
Sushi King George has been opened for several years now, but did you know that in late 2019, the business changed hands? If not, that’s because the new owners have done a great job in maintaining the same quality of food, and service from its previous owners. The restaurant is currently a family owned and operated business, having experience running many successful Japanese restaurants in Winnipeg, Regina, and now Surrey.
In addition to the delicious original menu that residents know and love, the new owners also introduced a special menu of their own, with signature items that are specially created by their chefs.
Their most notable and popular roll is their GUCCI roll – a decadent individually deep-fried roll, filled with crabmeat, avocado and cream cheese in the centre, and topped with three homemade savory sauces made in house. (My mouth is watering as I’m writing this but it’s too late to make an order!). If seared is more your thing, they have salmon and tuna nigiri that’s seared in their special house sauce.
While we wait for them to re-open, we can order through Skip-the-Dishes, or directly from the restaurant at: 778.395.8989 for pick-up. Check out their delicious menu!
Their hours of operation are:
Monday to Saturday: 11:30am to 10pm
Sunday: 11:30am to 9pm.
The team at Sushi King George are thrilled to open their doors again and want to thank their patrons for their on-going support during COVID-19. I was told that, because “of our faithful customers constantly being so supportive of our business, especially during the pandemic, and our hard working staff, we have been able to stay open and keep the restaurant running smoothly. We are extremely grateful and lucky to have such amazing customers and staff.”
We look forward to visiting Danny and his team soon!
Dear readers: As BC begins to re-open, it’s a great opportunity for business to welcome us back – please reach out to share local businesses that are now open so we can feature them and make sure our community knows how we can Support Our Surrey.
Tandoori Flame Delta Re-Opens for Dine-In on Two-Year Anniversary
From Grand Indian Buffet to a New Way to Buffet: Buffet at the Table
On June 1, 2018 Tandoori Flame Delta opened to much anticipation, hype and line-ups out the door that lasted several weeks. Now, exactly two years from the date from that grand opening, Tandoori Flame Delta will re-open on June 1, 2020 at 5pm for dine-in service, after being closed for over 2 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To be planning our re-opening plans exactly two years from the date is a surreal process. It will be the same restaurant, the same name, but a new concept – essentially a different experience altogether,” shared Shraey Gulati, Managing Director of Tandoori Flame Restaurants. We are essentially re-inventing the wheel and our entire process.”
Known as North America’s largest Indian buffet with more than 150 items, the challenge for Tandoori Flame Restaurants is how to bring their classic ‘Grand Buffet’ experience to the tabletop for diners, while maintaining similar price points. As soon as BC announced dine-in operations could begin to re-open mid-May given they followed the prescribed rules and regulations provided by the Ministry of Health, the Tandoori Flame team got to work.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have exceptional talent on our team, including executives who have worked in high-end eateries and 5-star hotels. We quickly brought our management team from both Ontario and British Columbia together to begin brainstorming options that would both allow us to be sustainable from a business standpoint, but also build consumer confidence while continuing to provide a great in-room dining experience,” explained Gulati.
Prior to the pandemic, Tandoori Flame Restaurants would see over 15,000 guests weekly across all their 3 locations. For them to survive, the team needed to come up with a solution to get in business, safely. They came up with two viable possibilities. The first thought was cafeteria style service, where diners receive a tray and then visit one of the restaurant’s 12 food stations and an attendant would serve them.
The concern here was how to ensure guests were maintaining social distance without intruding on the others In the dining room. The second, and more likely, scenario was to have diners order unlimited food from their table, a format that some diners make be familiar with and akin to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant. Guests would order from a pared down menu (likely 50-70 items) from their table, which would then be served to them at their table, family-style.
Between the two options, the team chose the latter. Tandoori Flame presents a new way to buffet: buffet at the table. Buffet at the table means bringing the buffet experience to your tabletop, with up to 7 courses served from approximately 60 items to choose from.
Guests will receive a menu listing of each course and the items available within each course. Courses include: 1) Chaat, 2) Soup, 3) Tandoori Flame Bites, 4) Tandoor/Starters, 5) Salad/Raita, 6) Main Course, 7) Desserts and there will also be a Kid’s Menu. The server will bring the items/ or courses one by one to the table and to avoid food wastage there will be a charge of per portion food wasted ($5/full portion, $3/half portion).
Originally June was already slated to be a busy month for the chain, as they planned to open their first Happy Singh Eats restaurant. The opening has now been put on hold until at least August of this year, while they wrap up construction and instead focus on what feels like three grand openings themselves, as they re-open their existing three Tandoori Flame locations as an entirely new concept.
How Dominion Bar + Kitchen is Preparing for Dine in Service in Phase Two of Reopening
The province of BC has now moved to phase two of reopening, and dining in at restaurants is something many can now look forward to. While this isn’t a go ahead for large friend gatherings at restaurants, it is a sign that things are slowly but positively moving in the right direction.
Dominion Bar + Kitchen is one of the restaurants in Surrey to reopen its doors for customers to dine in. Just like other restaurants in Surrey, Dominion Bar + Kitchen had to adapt to a lot of changes during quarantine.
General manager, Darren Pierce spoke about the restaurant switching to delivery and pickup methods. This was the form of service in place for Dominion Bar + Kitchen until May 25th, when it reopened for customers.
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Many guidelines have been put in place in order for the restaurant to properly execute the dine in service. In effort to maintain social distancing, Pierce mentioned the restaurant only allowing in 50 people at a time.
“We’ve [made] sure all of our tables are a minimum of six feet apart, and then we’ve also maxed out each table at six people sitting at a table,” says Pierce.
Along with spacing out customers and maintaining a small number of customers in the restaurant, Dominion Bar + Kitchen has also switched to touchless pay. Pierce also mentioned that hard copy menus have been removed and digital menus are made available.
There are also no cutleries or salt, pepper, and sauces on the tables. Sugars and straws are individually wrapped and delivered to customers when requested. There are multiple sanitizer stations throughout the restaurant, and arrows are used to direct the flow of traffic in the restaurant, according to Pierce.
Dominion Bar + Kitchen has a detailed information sheet from the government around the restaurant which reminds customers to be safe, according to Pierce.
While Dominion Bar + Kitchen has set guidelines for its customers and increased the cleaning at the restaurant. There has also been set guidelines for the staff at the restaurant.
“Upon arrival, all our staff are more than happy to have their temperature checked, and we do a symptom check as well,” says Pierce.
Pierce spoke about how eye opening the lack of customers at the restaurants was and how grateful he was for all the hard work by the government and people of B.C.
“… it definitely opened my eyes [to] how easy something like this can have a massive influence on the business … [and] the people within a business,” says Pierce. “There’s a lot of livelihood at stake and sometimes we take that for granted, … we do provide the bread and butter for the people to pay their bills, make rent, and have a place to live, …. and feed themselves. It’s really opening the eyes to how easily that can all be taken away,” he adds.
“I’d like to acknowledge and commend the amazing work that the B.C. government and the people of B.C. have done. A huge thank you [also] goes out to the front line workers, who were incredibly selfless throughout this entire ordeal and worked to keep us safe, [and] the customers who have supported us while we were closed [by using] our … pickup service and delivery,” says Pierce.
As Dominion Bar + Kitchen continues to work to encourage social distancing and the safety of customers and staff, the restaurant has also introduced some new additions to the menu to ensure the best experience for customers.
“We’ve got a great new menu that just launched on Monday, great new summer and spring items.” says Pierce. “We’re happy to be open and providing a service that I think people really cherish, but we’re doing it under as much precautions as we can,” he adds.
Uber Eats Reveals BC’s Top Comfort Foods
Over the last two months, Uber Eats has helped connect Canadians with their go-to dishes from their favourite restaurants.
Whether it’s to help support local businesses, or taking a break from dinner duty, hungry British Columbians have continued to order their favourite meals for takeout and delivery with Uber Eats. As British Columbia prepares to transition to Phase 2 and the re-opening of restaurants, we looked at the most commonly ordered items.
Comfort food tops the most-ordered food items list British Columbians have been placing over the past few weeks*:
- Miso Soup
- Butter Chicken
- California Roll
But how do BC’s cravings compare to the rest of Canada? Turns out Canada’s favourite foods are really diverse. Here are the top ten most-ordered food items Canadians have been enjoying:
- Butter Chicken
- Miso Soup
- Pad Thai
- Bubble Tea
- Onion Rings
*Data is based on orders placed on Uber Eats between March 16-May 10, 2020.
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