Monday, January 19, 2015

Dine Out Vancouver 2015 - Atithi Indian Cuisine

Atithi on UrbanspoonIt's a small restaurant with even smaller washrooms, but clean and unpretentious so you know you're not paying for renovations to make it look modern and swanky.

Dine Out Vancouver 2015 menu ($18)
Gluten-Free option available.

Beet roots cutlet with fresh coconut chunks.
Jackfruit biriyani kathi roll.
Spicy Chicken and yam in cone.

Our famous lentil cakes in cashew curry.
Railway station Goat curry with cumin potato.
Fish in Bengali mustard curry.

Date palm sugar rice pudding
[Vermicelli] with raisins and cashew nuts.

I totally forgot to do the gluten-free option. Probably wouldn't have gotten to try the kathi rolls if I did.

Jackfruit Biriyani Kathi Roll
  • I'm always surprised when a restaurant has items on Dine Out Vancouver which are not on their regular menu.
    • What if you like something a lot and go back for it, to find out it's not available? In this case, it wouldn't be quite the same thing, but you could order their regular jackfruit curry, mix it up thoroughly with the rice, and then wrap it in a separate order of naan.
    • For something similar (indian food in a wrap) you could try Soho Road Naan Kebabs.
  • If you're curious about the use of jackfruit, it's the younger unripened jackfruit that is used.
    • If you're hoping for an interesting sweet-fruit-in-a-curried-rice, look elsewhere.
    • Sort of bland and potato-like in taste. Sometimes the texture makes it comparable to chicken when used cubed in a curry like this.
  • As far as taste goes, this was OK. Not spicy at all.
    • You get two short rolls, so if you're dining with a friend they could get an order of something else. Like maybe beet with coconut.
Lentil Cakes in Cashew Curry
  • Very mildly spicy. Curry was decent.
  • Lentil cakes were boring: Lentils ground into a smooth mix, probably steamed, then cut into slices. More there to make this vegetarian curry "meaty" and filling than to give it flavour. Pretty much tasteless, but still better than tofu. Generous chunks of it in the bowl of curry.
    • This said, if you are someone who loves tofu, you may very well love this item.
  • Had some sticks of sweet potato. Looked like sweet potato fries tossed in. Not much to go around (which would have dominated the dish too much I think) but it's interested to get a sweet bite of this along with the curry every now and then. If the lentil cakes are too boring for you, pair it up with a bit of sweet potato.
  • Added with the rice and the paratha (looks like the same stuff used for the kathi roll, and not the thicker and airy naan), and this is a pretty filling meal.
Date Palm Sugar Rice Pudding
  • For Dine Out Vancouver, this is the dessert you want because you don't want the other one.
  • Not overly sweet. As desserts go, this is simple and tasty.
  • Horrible straight-from-the-fridge still-in-a-plastic container presentation.
Vermicelli with Raisins and Cashew Nut
  • Looked like they used the white rice vermicelli, not the yellow spaghetti-like wheat stuff. (Gluten free version of dudh shemai?)
  • Cashew nuts might be hard to see because they sort of blend in colour-wise.
  • Horrible straight-from-the-fridge still-in-a-plastic container presentation. Except here, the noodles on top have a dried-out-from-being-in-the-fridge look.
  • Only one (1) raisin successfully located. Lousy luck of the draw?
  • Taste wasn't bad -- again, not overly sweet -- but vermicelli absorbs liquid so this was a drier dessert and the feel in the mouth wasn't as smooth as the rice pudding.
In summary, for $18 during Dine Out Vancouver, vegetarians can get a filling portion of somewhat lacklustre food. Maybe the goat curry or fish curry would have wow'ed. And maybe the beet-with-coconut might have been more interesting.

Overall I think this is one of those restaurants you should probably try when it's NOT Dine Out Vancouver or a Groupon deal or what not. Just how dessert turned out suggests to me that they have turned their kitchen over to that, and whenever you get mass produced food, quality can suffer.

As for Groupons, restaurants have to think really carefully about it. Consumers don't typically look behind the scenes, but a 50% Groupon deal for you is like a 75% hit for the restaurant. For example, a $20 deal may be sold to you at $10, but the restaurant then pays $5 to Groupon. If you suddenly have a lot of people who aren't procrastinators and don't let their Groupons expire, suddenly cutting corners (like less raisins per bowl of vermicelli dessert) starts to look awfully tempting.
Groupons are said to be toughest to have a net positive outcome for restaurants.

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