Rangoli

Restaurant: Rangoli
Cuisine: Indian/Fusion
Last visited: November 28, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Fairview)
Address: 1488 W 11th Ave
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4
Service: 4.5
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Sister to Vij’s Restaurant
  • Owner Vikram Vij
  • Modern Indian cuisine
  • Seasonal menus
  • Suitable for individual dining
  • Busy/Popular to locals
  • Appeals to Western clientele
  • All female chefs/cooks
  • Casual/Affordable
  • Friendly service
  • Patio seating
  • Pre-packaged/frozen curries
  • Vegetarian friendly options
  • Dine in/Take-out
  • No reservations
  • Open daily 11am-10pm

**Recommendations: Portobello Mushroom and Red Bell Pepper Curry

So what is Rangoli good at? Providing the best and most authentic Indian food in the city? No, not really. But, what they are good at, or even excellent at, is making Indian food appealing to a non-Indian clientele. Still sticking to Indian flavours, Rangoli is very innovative and smart on their portrayal of Indian food. They know their market and they cater to them well. It is a modern take on Indian cuisine, but they do a pretty good job at it and I enjoyed the food, service and overall experience.

The set up is actually quite interesting because half the restaurant operates as a market with frozen and pre-packaged Indian food that is made fresh on site. The packaged meals are all different from what’s available on the menu, and the menu does frequently change so the experience of dining in and taking out will be different. Every side and sauce is well thought out, although there are ingredients I’ve never seen used in an Indian kitchen or household. Every ingredient and side was translated to suit the tastes of a Western market, yet it still remained true to how Indian people enjoy their food.

I love Indian food and I don’t need it to look appealing, but they do present it well at Rangoli. They play with colours and they balance out the heavy Indian food, which Vancouver is accustomed to, by pairing them with lighter salads that have Indian flare. They don’t hold back on flavour though and the dishes do deliver. It’s not huge in portions, but they give a good variety, making it appropriate for individual dining as well.

On the table:

Cauliflower, Spinach, Onion and Potato Pakoras – 4/6

  • With daal $8.75
  • I’ve had lots of pakora before, but these were a gourmet version of the popular street food, although still very tasty.
  • They were actually pretty big pieces of pakora and every one remained crunchy even after it was sitting there for a bit.
  • It was made with huge chunks of vegetables and not only potatoes or fried batter and they were well seasoned and flavoured with curry.
  • The sauce was the real highlight. Rather than the standard tamarind chutney, it was served with a homemade mint chutney that was quite tangy, aromatic, slightly sweet and spicy with some jalapenos. It had great flavour and balance and just made the flavour of the pakora come alive. I do like the mint chutney at Saffron Indian Cuisine as well.
  • The accompaniment of daal soup was something I’ve never seen before. I usually see this soup being offered at South Indian places anyways. It was tangy with lots of smoky flavours from whole roasted cumin seeds, followed by a spicy kick from other spices. There was tons of lentils, onions and curry leaves, but the broth was light although intensely flavoured.

**Portobello Mushroom and Red Bell Pepper Curry – 5/6

  • On paneer with beet salad & naan $13
  • I love Portobello Mushrooms, but I would have looked passed this until it was recommended.
  • It was a sweeter onion based curry sauce that tastes very infused with sweet caramelized onions, red peppers and a generous amount of meaty and juicy Portobello Mushrooms with about 5 mini slices of paneer (Indian cheese).
  • The beet salad is not very Indian, but it’s a smart idea. I’m assuming that the beet salad was a Western translation of eating the traditional, although unfamiliar, achar pickles Indian people like to eat along side Indian food.
  • I did like the tangy beet salad to contrast the sweeter curry, but it was super crunchy to the point of tasting raw and undercooked. I did miss the natural sweetness of the beets themselves and it came off as tasting like pickled radishes instead. It did bring a nice tang and texture to the curry though.
  • I wasn’t crazy about the naan, it was flat, dense and almost stale and it seemed pan seared on one side. I missed the coating of ghee on it and it just seemed too healthy and non-Indian. On the other hand I did love the incorporation of cumin seeds throughout the dough, which added great aromatic flavour especially since they get toasted in the baking process.

Goat and Jackfruit in Creamy Curry – 3.5/6

  • With coconut cabbage salad, rice and naan $15.50
  • I like goat, but I ordered it because the jackfruit got me and it did come highly recommended again. The combination was too unique to pass up.
  • Goat tastes like a cross of beef brisket and lamb shoulder. It was quite tender, at times chewy, followed by a slight gaminess that I wasn’t too into.
  • The curry sauce was a meat infused gravy, but it was a bit on the sweet side with decent amount of marsala spices and heat.
  • I was pretty disappointed with the jackfruit incorporation into the dish though.
  • I was expecting pieces of yellow tropical jackfruit (see here) and the fruit being used throughout the curry.
  • However the type of jackfruit used was a under ripe jackfruit and it tasted more like a meaty vegetable than it did a jackfruit.
  • It was actually a couple large chunks of jackfruit stewed with the goat’s meat and it tasted like woody, tangy, fiberous artichokes.
  • The rice was fine and it’s served with one piece of naan so I like how it comes with a bit of everything.
  • I loved the coconut cabbage salad. It was a great side to the heavier and creamier spicy curry so there was good reason for it to be there. It was fresh and crunchy almost like a cole slaw (smart), but it was aromatic, tangy and slightly sweet. It was all very unique.

Meeti Roti – 1/6

  • Custard on chapati filled with demerara sugar & cashews (Allow 20 minutes) $5.50
  • I don’t like Indian desserts except for Kulfi, but I like to give everything a chance.
  • This was the only thing that looked interesting and again it was recommended so I was actually pretty excited to try it. It’s a modern Indian dessert and it doesn’t take 20min.

  • For me, it’s a no go. It was too sweet and it was barely filled with any cashews and any nutty taste was completely masked by the overly sweet demerra (brown sugar) syrup filling that was also runny and leaking out.
  • It almost seemed Mexican to me and the chapati came off as a flimsy toasted roti, but there was no texture from the anticipated cashew filling.
  • The custard was almost like a melted ice cream meets creme anglaise kind of custard and the flavour of the cashews was in that. I could barely taste it though because it was still overly sweet although it did have somewhat of a pasty texture.
  • The mint pulled back the sweetness, but there wasn’t enough to make a difference.
  • As a modern Indian dessert, I’d much prefer the Sizzling Brownie from Bombay Se.

Mango Lassi – 3/6

  • $5.50
  • It was incredibly tart and very obviously made from lots of homemade raita (yogurt). There were little pieces of mango, but the ratio of yogurt to mango was much greater. It’s actually not that sweet or thick at all, nor does it have that icy texture or flavour of mango concentrate. It was good, but I prefer it colder and a bit sweeter.

Chai – n/a

  • $2.50
  • I didn’t try it, but I was caught off guard by the serving. I’m being picky, but mug or teacup preferred.

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9 Comments

  • Crispy Lechon says:

    I think the jackfruit you had there was the unriped jackfruit used as a vegetable in South Asians savoury dishes. Unriped jackfruit is white in colour and they are not the sweet type.

  • Mijune says:

    @Crispy Lechon – i think you’re right as well. I’ve had that yellow jackfruit in Asia and it was so sweet@ We made fruit roll ups out of them…. I don’t have jack fruit too often since it’s not too common here, but I prefer the yellow kind to the raw white kind… even in savoury dishes like this. thanks for commenting!

  • Sara says:

    Hmm, I am a huge fan of Indian food! The Portobello Mushroom and Red Bell Pepper Curry doesn’t seem like what I would typically go for in an Indian restaurant either… Isn’t the price a bit hefty for what it is? But if you say it’s that good then it must be something.

    I think I need to be less conservative with my Indian food liking. I usually go to Indian buffet because I like to eat LOTS of Indian food (mostly lamb curry, butter chicken, pakoras and cabbage bhaji) when I do and Indian restaurants are often too expensive for my liking.

    I’ve never seen that dessert before though….. Your posts always inspire me to be more creative when eating out!

  • Mijune says:

    @Sara – Aw! So cute! Thanks for the comment Sara! I’m glad I’m able to showcase more than the “typical dishes” and hopefully describe them in enough detail to make you want to explore other options 🙂

    The price is a bit “hefty” but it’s expected for the area and brand. The price also justifies the quality sometimes. I would still pay for it again.

    I also highly recommend that you try non-buffet Indian food… it’s usually much better and they don’t have to keep it hot for hours. There’s also great authentic affordable Indian food in the Surrey area as opposed to Vancouver areas 🙂

  • This is great! How did the lineups and busy-ness compare to Vij’s? I’m so glad you recommended the portobello dish because yeah, it’s not something I would think to order, but it is something my poor vegetarian-not-by-choice husband can eat. Mmm … hey, does your Kulfi comment mean you don’t like gulab jamun?

  • Mijune says:

    @Mariam Martin – Well Rangoli is completely different than Vij’s so even when there is a line up it goes super fast since it’s not really a place you would spend the evening at. It’s quick/casual and a great place to go before a movie. However Vij is more for a night out.

    – Yes, unfortunately I’m not a fan of galub jamun… it’s just too sweet/sugary/sweet for me. If I have deep fried milk I prefer this Asian version: http://www.followmefoodie.com/2010/06/hong-kong-fung-shing-restaurant/

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