Taste of Punjab

Restaurant: Taste of Punjab
Cuisine: Indian
Last visited: May 5, 2011
Location: Surrey, BC (Whalley)
Address: 10009 136A St (Corner of 100th Ave & 136A St)
Price Range: $10-20

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

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

  • Local favourite
  • Family owned/operated
  • Hidden gem
  • Affordable
  • Extensive menu (100+ items)
  • Meat/Seafood
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Homestyle/made upon order
  • Great value/good portions
  • Casual/clean/comfortable
  • $8-12 lunch specials
  • Dine in/Take out
  • Accepts Visa/MC/Interac
  • Mon-Thur: 11am-10pm
  • Friday 12pm-11pm
  • Sunday 12pm-10pm

**Recommendations: Chicken Jalfrazie, Turka Dal, Saag Paneer, and Lamb Curry. If you like heat, request hot because medium isn’t very spicy. I’d request everything hot next time.

I finally made it to Taste of Punjab! It’s one of Surrey’s, or I guess Whalley’s neighbourhood gems for great authentic Indian food. The recommendation came up at my dinner at Frasers Bistro & Lounge and since then it’s been on my “to dine” list.

Sherman had checked it out first, and was very impressed to check it out again, but he needed my help to attack the menu. Not only was he gentleman enough to wait a whole month for my crazy schedule to die down (that’s a century for an eager foodie), but he also shared his photos with me! This challenge was long overdue, but he knew I was the right person to dent the menu with… hmm I wonder what gave him that idea. This actually wasn’t even considered “denting the menu” for me, but it was a fair attempt and still enough to feed probably four normal appetites.

Whalley may not suggest exquisite food, but I’m convinced it has some great eateries at a great price too. I don’t question that Surrey has great Indian food to start off with, but there are ones that stand out above others. This is probably one of them.

It’s located in a plaza mall and a little bit hidden from the main street, but it’s a favourite in the area. The signage doesn’t suggest formal, but the inside is actually quite nice with table cloth and wine glass settings. The portions and prices are fair and the atmosphere is comfortable with friendly service from the owner.

The food is very good, as somewhat expected since Sherman seemed determined to go again. The menu is extensive and there is so much variety as it offers all the standard Northern Punjab dishes and more. There is a home style and home cooked quality to the food and care you can taste. It’s made with lots of freshly ground spices, and I was actually more impressed with some of the vegetarian dishes, although I was never really let down by anything. Oh and if you can handle the real taste of Punjab, request it hot because medium was a bit mild.

On the table:

**Chicken Jalfrazie – 5/6

  • Boneless chicken pieces marinated with fresh ground spices, sauteed with tomatoes, onions and bell peppers. Served with steamed rice $11.49
  • It was my first time trying Chicken Jalfrazie and it’s one of the owner’s personal favourites so that was an easy choice for me.
  • It was a very fair portion of rice and chicken. I really enjoyed it!
  • Jalfrazie is a “dry fry” curry so the sauce is quite thick, rich and creamy, but not nearly as thick as a korma. It’s more heavy on the oil than the cream.
  • It actually tasted like Indian Chinese food to me. There was definitely some Chinese influence in it from the stir fried quality and even in the overall flavour.
  • It had lots of tender and moist chicken marinated in yogurt so there was a nice tang.
  • The onions and bell peppers are stir fried in oil with the pureed curry sauce, so the flavour is intensified and infused throughout. It’s quite oily, as expected though.
  • The curry sauce is well textured and made from pureed ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and other spices and herbs. There’s some bell pepper flavour throughout the curry and a hint of cream to give it a little richness.
  • It’s a multi-layered sauce with curry powder, built in heat, pureed fresh herbs and lots of flavor.
  • It was almost sweet from the onions, but it’s not a sweet curry. It’s also a bit tangy from the pureed tomatoes which were an underlying flavour.
  • I ordered it medium, but I could go hot, because it was quite mild.

Punjab Dinner Combination (Thali) – 4.5/6

  • Tandoori chicken, lamb curry, butter chicken, saag, dal, raita, rice, naan, and rice pudding $15.99
  • Leave it to me to order dinner for lunch. What better way than to try a bit of everything!
  • It was a nice selection and although made in house, the lamb curry, butter chicken, saag and dal seemed a bit pre made and ready to go which is a bit expected when ordering thali for lunch (lunch rush). Regardless they were still well made, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were better a la carte.
  • There was a good selection and well worth it considering it would be enough for 2 regular eaters for lunch. But regular eaters we are not… or at least I am not. (Sherman’s not bad I guess ;p).

Tandoori Chicken3/6

  • Marinated in traditional yogurt and spices. (Half $8.49/whole $15.99)
  • I’m sure this would be better a la carte, hopefully presented on an hot iron plate, but considering it was a thali, I didn’t expect it.
  • It was fresh and made upon order.
  • It was two fairly large pieces ofΒ  tender and somewhat moist white meat chicken that had been well marinated in yogurt with a subtle tang.
  • It had a very light tandoori rub which was more savoury than spicy and I requested medium, which was quite mild and I could have gone hot.
  • I just wanted more spices and more grilled and charred smokiness.
  • The bed of onions and green peppers were raw and I wish they had been grilled, which they probably would be if ordered a la carte.

**Lamb Curry4/6

  • Boneless lamb cooked in onions, garlic, ginger, fresh tomatoes and exotic spices ($12.99 if ordered a la carte)
  • I think this would be even better if it was ordered a la carte. Since it was on the thali platter it didn’t have the fresh tomatoes or onions, which kind of tells me it was pre-made and ready to go. It’s still made in house, but just a “quick order” item.
  • The lamb had a braised quality and it was incredibly tender, juicy, and falling apart.
  • It didn’t have a gamey flavour, which I’m sensitive too and I simply loved this! The lamb was better than the curry sauce.
  • It was almost cooked like a lamb stew and the curry sauce was thin and tomato based, but with no actual tomatoes.
  • It was a bit flat with the seasonings, but it still had heat. I could have gone hot spicy instead of medium though.

Butter Chicken- 2.5/6

  • Boneless chicken pieces cooked in herbs and tomato sauce with buttery taste. ($11.49 if ordered a la carte)
  • They call it a “specialty of the house”, but I didn’t get it. I found it okay, but maybe I had my hopes too high.
  • It just didn’t seem as rich in flavour especially compared to everything else we had on the table.
  • This tasted like another “ready to go” item, so I think it would be better a la carte from the dinner menu, although I still have my doubts with this one.
  • For a Butter Chicken curry it was very thin and not creamy.
  • The pieces of chicken was tender, tangy and well marinated in yogurt, but the sauce was very mild and not as sweet or tangy as I’m used to.
  • Compared to many restaurant Butter Chickens this seemed more “healthy” without as much cream.
  • I could taste the stewed tomatoes pureed right into the sauce, but it was a bit flat overall and carried a mild heat which I’d request hot instead of medium next time.

**Turka Dal 6/6

  • Creamed lentils fried in garlic & butter, onions and spices $7.99
  • It doesn’t look impressive, but it was! I love dal. It’s one of my favourite items at an Indian restaurant and this one was excellent!
  • It reminded me of home cooked dal and it was high quality for what it was. A home cooked version wouldn’t be as “gourmet”, which made this one even more special.
  • They used yellow split peas and a variety of dal (lentils) including yellow, red and maybe pink lentils?
  • It was very creamy with great curry flavour as well as being well rounded with other Indian spices.
  • It wasn’t too oily, but just smooth, velvety and buttery, but not heavy or too rich.

**Saag5/6 (Just for the sauce)

  • Fresh spinach cooked lightly in onions, ginger and garlic, mixed with home made cheese $8.49
  • Unfortunately on the thali platter it didn’t come with paneer (home made cheese), but the saag was great enough to convince me to order the Saag Paneer a la carte.
  • This was delicious saag! Another home made vegetarian item that was excellent in its own right!
  • I really like saag so it was a 5/6 for me.
  • It was very creamy and thick and made with lots of pureed and stewed spinach, onions, tomatoes and whole coriander seeds.
  • It was so hearty and had layers of flavour from all the reduced veggies that were blended right in.

Naan

  • It was crispy naan and soft inside. It’s made fresh, quite standard and a good size. A la carte $1.30

**Spinach Naan – 4.5/6

  • Stuffed with grated home made cheese, spinach & mild spices $3.49
  • These guys know how to do spinach!
  • For a spinach naan, this was made incredibly well except it was lacking with grated home made cheese (paneer).

  • There was lots of spinach stuffing and it wasn’t overcooked. It was almost creamy and there were whole toasted spices like coriander in it.
  • The flavours were well developed and the naan was crispy and soft on the inside.
  • The filling almost tasted eggy with the melted spongy cheese (paneer), but I still wanted more cheese.

Rice Pudding (Badami Kheer) – 2/6

  • A rice and almond pudding with a divine taste $1.99
  • I’m not a fan of Indian desserts, unless it’s Kulfi and I don’t mind some rice puddings. I appreciated this on the platter, but it’s not something I’d order.
  • Rice pudding and gulab guman is like the “red bean” of Chinese cuisine. I would rather have rice pudding though as I’m really not a fan of gulab juman either.
  • The rice was almost pureed and bitty and it was a bit soupy for my liking. I didn’t find it overly sweet, but didn’t care too much for it either.
  • It had some sliced almonds, but not much and I like my Indian rice puddings with Indian spices like cardamom or even with a hint of rose water.

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18 Comments

  • Dilara says:

    What, you went without me?? πŸ™

    Well I’m glad you finally got to try it though… and even more glad that you liked it. I always order a la carte and I’ve yet to find a dish I didn’t like. Their butter chicken is actually quite good, not usually thin and runny so maybe next time if you order if a la carte it’ll be better. I absolutely LOVE their turka daal! It’s SO good, reminds me of the one my mom makes at home! I’m glad you tried and liked it.

    For next time, you have to try their lamb biryani (of chicken since I know you’re not partial to lamb).

  • Mijune says:

    @Dilara – Next time with you for sure!! i had plans to go prior to your recommendation so that’s the only reason!! πŸ™‚ Ok I agree! Almost all the time i think a la carte is better, so I better go back.. with you πŸ˜‰ AND exactly!!!!! the daal tastes so home cooked!! I thought so too!!!!

    lol omg I love how you know the lamb thing!!I’m actually warming up quite well now though!! As long as it’s not ultra gamey I’m fine!! So cute!! Lamb Biryani and Butter chicken for us next time!

  • Sherman says:

    Actually I had the Lamb Biryani on my first visit! It was really spicy and good! That’s what made me want to come back for another try. Too bad the combo wasn’t to my liking though!

  • Mijune says:

    @Sherman – I didn’t think the combo was bad by any means though… usually a la carte is always better… and i’d order all those things a la carte just to try again.

  • Dilara says:

    Mijune – it’s a date! πŸ˜‰

    Sherman – I’m glad you liked the lamb biryani! It’s one of my favorite dishes here. Very spicy and flavorful, not to mention lots of pieces of yummy lamb in it!

  • Dee says:

    I’m going to check it out! It’s right by the skytrain station!

  • Mijune says:

    @Dee – Order a la carte πŸ™‚

  • Linda says:

    WHY DON’T THEY HAVE PLACES LIKE THIS IN VANCOUVER!?!?!?! the presentation of the dishes alone make me want to visit this place πŸ™‚ the items look and seem very authentic and i’m glad your visit here was so successful! the presentation reminds me a little of east is east except this place isn’t almost AYCE πŸ™‚

    i’ve never actually tried chicken jalfrazie but it looks very promising! i usually go for typical items like butter chicken and i’m sorry to hear that even though its supposed to be a specialty here, it didn’t taste too great – there seems to be a lack of cream in the sauce which is probably why it’s so red!

    the saag looks great and so does the naan! i love naan bread and so many restaurants can’t do it right in vancouver – with the exception of rangoli/vij’s πŸ™‚

  • Mijune says:

    @LiNDA _ Indian food fits Surrey best I guess! A lot of restaurants in Vancouver will offer this type o presentation though… you just have to look at “thali” section. πŸ™‚

    I think the butter chicken would be better a la carte, so I give benefit of the doubt for this one for sure!

    I have to do more exploring for Indian cuisine in Vancouver for you!! I heard Atithi is good..?

  • Linda says:

    i’ve heard the same from Atithi’s and if you sign up for their newsletter, you get a $10 off $40 dinner coupon πŸ™‚

  • Dilara says:

    Linda & Mijune – I tried Athithi when they first opened as was quite disappointed with the food. I haven’t written it off yet though – I think I”ll go in for another visit to be fair.

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – oh there’s also Chutney Villa! And I like Akbar’s Own, but it’s been a long time… I haven’t been to Chutney Villa though.

    @Dilara – What do you think of Chutney Villa and Akbar’s Own?

  • Dilara says:

    I haven’t been to Akbar’s Own yet but I LOVE Chutney Villa!

  • Mijune says:

    @Dilara – I better make my way then!!! Thanks!!

  • Sista Vee says:

    Thank you for great service and food was great too. More than I could imagine. The Samosa were especially hot and good. The Fish Marsala excellent! I will come again next visit to this area..
    Thanks from your friend in Oregon!
    Sista Vee

  • Mijune says:

    @sista Vee – Hi there! This is actually a blog and not the actual restaurant, but I’m glad you enjoyed it too πŸ™‚

  • Nav says:

    You should definitely check out Tastys Indian bistro in Delta! Amazing new restaurant. Great food and amazing decor!

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