Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dine Out Vancouver 2010 - Maurya Indian Cuisine

Maurya Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Had a wonderful time at Maurya Indian Cuisine tonight with wonderful dining companions. Surprised that even closer to 7pm, this restaurant with excellent food and that had been honoured by Dine Out patrons two years running (they were Best Overall Menu and Best Appetizer in 2009) was less than half occupied.

The in-restaurant menu was different from the initial menu posted on the Dine Out website (and there were reports of website hiccups later on, which made the menu inaccessible):
  • Entree choices were trimmed, and the Goa Fish Curry is gone! But the helpful server asked the kitchen, and they made it available for me anyway.
  • Dessert choices were dropped from three to two, with the Kesar Phirni off.
  • Read the Gulab Jamun entry carefully as it differs from the typical offering (something about sitting on bread -- an oversight on my part meant I didn't catch that our party of four all ordered the ice cream, so we didn't get to see it at all).
Anyway, for appetizers, we very nearly all ordered the "Jewels of the Sea" (Samundri Ratan). I noticed this and sacrified my first choice for the Chicken Mumtaaz (chicken kebob). A fellow diner followed suit and got the mixed vegetables.
Mixed grilled vegetables was interesting in its mix of veggies and fruit (including jackfruit!).
Chicken was the firmer white breast meat, yet moist. Very nicely done, and large slabs to boot--not the usual cubes for kebob but four pieces each approximately a whole three cubic inches.
However, overall, I must say (and with the consensus of my fellow diners) that the "Jewels of the Sea" had to be the best appy. And though I hadn't ordered it, was gratified to have a bite at least. If you go to Maurya, order this! Two round cake/dumplings per plate, and of a good size (about 1-/2 inch in diameter). You can taste the seafood that went into it, and you can clearly see at least one whole shrimp on the inside.

For our entrees, the chicken seemed dreadfully popular at our table for some reason. I had, as mentioned, been set on the Goa Fish Curry, and fortunately the kitchen was willing to make it, though they weren't prepared, geared up as they were for their final dine out menu. The server's warning was that it would take about a half-hour, but with appetizers ahead and a lively party of four, I didn't notice a thing.
Our mean came with two servings of rice and one basket of excellent fresh naan! We did end up asking for more naan (about 6 more wedges came, I believe), and with nothing added to the bill. I would recommend going easy on the naan as you'll probably want to use it to get every last drop of delicious curry from the metal serving dishes.
Curry was either mild, medium, or spicy. I opted for spicy for the Fish Curry, and it was spicy enough, but not so much that I was weeping for yogurt to clear my palate of unbearable burning and bitterness. The "mild" chicken curry had a surprising sweetness that wasn't discernable (or I wasn't paying enough attention) in the medium versions. My fish curry had enough fishiness so that you were sure it was fish and not tasteless meat, yet not so fishy to be off-putting. Nothing too adventurous required to try it (and nothing extra on the bill, either).
Chicken was chicken, I thought, Stiff breast meat chunks. Very generous amount of curry overall, very good for an initial round of dipping while the naan is still on the hot side of warm. Whatever was added to the fluffy rice was overshadowed by the strong and delicious flavours of the curry.

For dessert, pink (strawberry) kulfi (ice cream). I think it's prepared in the back in very long rods and chopped up for each plate. That seemed to be the common shape, and with four plates coming to the same table, it was still useful enough to try different presentations. The actual quantity of ice cream in each plate may then very well vary by as much as two cubic inches, however. One to two mint leaves per plate -- and yes, you can eat it. (It's like a stick of Wrigley's Spearmint in your mouth, but with a grassy/leafy aftertaste.)
I'd never had "authentic" kulfi before, but it's supposed to melt less easily due to how it's prepared. What we had was in between an ice cream and a sorbet, and it melted just as quick as regular ice cream, so I'll leave it up to more knowledgeable foodies to comment on its authenticity.
Not sorry to have ordered it, however, as the fresh fruity flavour and coolness was a very nice way to offset the curry, that can leave you with a slightly heavy feel, sort of like how too much spaghetti and pasta sauce can make you feel a bit sluggish.

Wouldn't have done to chase the kulfi with a hot coffee or tea after, however, but I certainly could have done with a mint tea or strong chai afterward. We started at 5pm when the restaurant was just open, and by the time we were done, there was still a luxuriuos amount of room in the restaurant that we didn't feel pressured at all to leave and make room for others. Where's the Dine Out crowd? With not much time left on Dine Out (ends May 6th), they're missing out by not going to Maurya Indian Cuisine.

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