1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 4.5 (based on the 2 dishes I tried)
Service: 3.5 (friendly, but understaffed/slow when busy)
- Family owned/operated
- Home made/fresh
- Great for tandoori
- Very busy for dinner
- Popular to locals
- Popular for take out
- Dine in/Take out
- Limited beer/wine
- Fully licensed
- Open daily
- Open until 10/10:30pm
- Reservations recommended
**Recommendations: You hear about their Butter Chicken, but the Tandoori is the real highlight. Try the Tandoori Village Platter, Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka… and I guess the Butter Chicken.
Amidst all the Asian restaurants in Richmond, BC there is Tandoori Kona: A Taste of India, located in a strip mall next to Subway. It comes unnoticed and from the outside it looks a bit dodgy. I always thought it was more for take out, but the inside is actually quite comfortable with tablecloth and napkin service. The locals know about it and most diners seemed like regulars, but with little competition for Indian cuisine in Richmond, it does easily manage to be one of the favourites.
Tandoori Kona is a small family owned and run operation and it does require patience especially during dinner service on the weekends, when it’s extremely busy for dine in and take out. It’s been around for ages and I always hear that their butter chicken is really good, even from my Indian friends living in the area. I have had my fair share of home cooked and restaurant Indian food so I do have my set standards.
I admit, I immediately questioned its authenticity as soon as I walked in and noticed almost every single customer, but one table, was White or Asian. Nonetheless I was seated and I gave the menu a shot. My eyes laser beamed onto Chicken Kasmiri made with “cashew nuts and banana curry”, which seemed different and right up my alley. However after inquiring about it with our young server and finding out it wasn’t actually made with bananas, but had banana like qualities, I decided to pass.
So I knew I had to try the Butter Chicken (as “sweet and sour pork” as that order is) and what else… ahh I know! Let me turn around and ask the only table of Indian customers for suggestions! And of course! How could I miss the obvious!? The Tandoori at TANDOORI Kona is the highlight and came especially recommended by these friendly diners! (Thank goodness I have no censor sometimes because what a valuable recommendation they gave me!)
The food is made fresh and home made; it’s casual, friendly, but at times slow service from being understaffed. I really like that their mains can be ordered a la carte or as a meal with rice and naan etc. included, so the prices are very reasonable, although the portions perhaps a bit small. Overall I would come again, and although what I ordered was supposed to represent the best of what they offer, I’m curious to try other things.
On the table:
- It comes included with the set meals and I think it’s $1.25 ordered as an appetizer.
- I call them the Indian version of chips and salsa.
- They’re lentil crackers served with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce or chutney.
- It was standard, but not served warm.
- Tandoori dishes are marinated in yogurt and spices for 24 hours and traditionally cooked in a clay oven.
- An assortment of tandoori dishes including: Tandoori chicken, lamb tikka, chicken tikka, kababs, tandoori fish, rice pillau, naan, chutney and papadums. $16.95
- Traditionally eaten as an appetizer, but the portion is big and I can enjoy it as a meal.
- This was an excellent tandoori experience and it was much better in flavour and execution than the Tandoori Mixed Grill from Saffron Indian Cuisine, which is regarded as “Best Indian Restaurant in Burnaby”. However Saffron Indian Cuisine gives you lamb chops and prawns, so it’s more gourmet.
- I’m used to tandoori being served with mint chutney, and although the menu listed it was served with chutney, the dipping sauce it came with was actually a butter chicken sauce! It was different, but it worked and I appreciated it.
- I ordered it medium spicy and I was scared they would hold back considering the clientele, but they didn’t! It was spicy (maybe not for Indian standards) and I can handle my heat, but it had my nose sniffling. It was perfect for me.
- The butter sauce dipping sauce or “chutney” will be spiced according to the level of spiciness you requested.
- The tandoori tasted almost Asian and I feel like they use Chinese chili sauces in the marinade along with some homemade pickles which taste like pickled Mediterranean banana peppers.
- The flavour was spicy, tangy yet sweet and the onions and bell peppers were crunchy and sweet and seemed lightly sautéed first. They also didn’t burn on the grill which was great!
- All the meats were excellent especially the tandoori chicken, lamb tikka and chicken tikka.
- There was the leg and breast of tandoori chicken, and about 2-3 pieces of each of the other meats.
- The Kababs (5/6) It wasn’t the long wrinkly sausage rolls, but it was a chunk of sausage. These were more like Indian bratwurst like sausages made with ground meat and they were heaviest on the spices, but not necessarily the spiciest. It had a meatloaf like texture and they were big and juicy and I liked them, but I wouldn’t want a whole plate of them.
- The Lamb and Chicken Tikka (5/6) were incredibly tender, well marinaded and infused with flavour throughout. The chicken had a great spice rub and it was moist and marinated in a sweet chili like sauce. The lamb was also well flavoured, tender and not gamey.
- I wasn’t a fan of the Tandoori Fish (2/6) which were dry and not as fresh.
- I really enjoyed this here! It was so well marinated and the spice rub on it was a dry rub, but they also had a chili paste marinade on it that was very flavourful and not just spicy.
- I really think they use the Sriracha hot sauce in the marinade along with the Garlic Chili Sriracha sauce (with the chili seeds and flakes).
- The breast and leg were moist and it had a nice crispy exterior from the grilling too.
- Chicken breast in mild creamy butter sauce. Served with naan, rice pillau & papadums $11.95
- A la carte orders are available at $10.95
- This is the famed Butter Chicken that everyone talks about! I was actually more impressed with the tandoori platter.
- Yes, it was very good butter chicken, but I didn’t find it exceptionally good or noticeably different than any other “very good Butter Chicken”. In fact, I think a lot of places in Surrey could deliver the same.
- The chicken was incredibly tender and perhaps tenderized with yogurt first, and I did notice that part.
- The butter sauce was maybe sweeter than normal and it was creamy and rich, yet tangy. I think they must use some homemade raita (yogurt) instead of all cream to thicken it up. I’ve had thicker and creamier Butter Chicken before, but this consistency was good for me.
- There wasn’t any noticeable spices besides the usual, and there was a decent amount of chicken although the portion looks quite small when served.
- The naan was very good! The pieces are bigger than normal and they’re very soft and fluffy with a slight crispness from the tandoor grilling.
- It’s not buttered and they have other varieties, but the plain naan comes standard with all set meals.
- Basmati rice cooked with peas and spices.
- Indian version of rice pilaf. It was the most basic form of rice pillau, but it was a bit dry and quite bland, and I couldn’t taste any spices.
- I kind of expected this though and I think it might be different if you ordered it separately and not with the set meal. I’m not sure.