Atithi Indian Cuisine

Restaurant: Atithi Indian Cuisine
Cuisine: Indian/Fusion
Last visited: July 21, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Kitsilano)
Address: 2445 Burrard St
Price Range: $10-20

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

Food: 3
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • Family owned and operated
  • Homestyle cooking (less fat)
  • Indian fusion dishes
  • Popular to neighbourhood locals
  • Daily seasonal specials
  • $8.99 Lunch buffet
  • 4 course tasting menus
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Gluten free friendly
  • Free parking at rear
  • Dine In/Take out/Delivery
  • Monday $10 curry night
  • Lunch Buffet Mon-Fri 11:30am – 2:30pm
  • Dinner Mon-Sun 5:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Delivery 5:00pm – 9:45pm

**Recommendations: Chicken and Lentils Patty with Cucumber Mustard Relish, Frankie, Red Snapper Grilled & topped with Bengali Mustard Curry, Cardamom Crème Brulée Chocolate

I don’t explore Indian cuisine in Vancouver very often. It’s not to say it’s not good, but I just usually go to the home of all Indian food when I’m craving Indian, which is stereotypically in Surrey. I do the same with Chinese cuisine and tend to stick to Richmond for that. However every city has good food as long as you know where to find it.

Atithi can be easily overlooked although I have noticed it before. It’s a small family owned and operated Indian restaurant that’s quite popular with the neighbourhood locals. It seems to attract a Western crowd, which to be honest, leads me to question its authenticity, or whether or not the recipes would be adjusted to cater to the tastes of their clientele. Of course the concept of “authenticity” is always a tricky subject, but if you’re claiming to be authentic, then I think it’s fair to expect traditional Indian food and flavour made with traditional techniques.

On this occasion I was invited to try out the restaurant, so I did get to meet Chef Roy and was given an explanation behind his food. If I didn’t get the background I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the food as much. It’s mainly due to the fact that the food is very home style, which means there’s less oil, cream and fat in many of the dishes, which means it’s not nearly as rich, creamy, or strong as most restaurant style Indian food. So if I didn’t know, I would have considered the food a bit watered down and mild in flavours. However I have had home cooked Indian food on several occasions and I still found Atithi to be on the mild side.

Atithi has been nominated as “Vancouver’s Best Indian” and I expected it to be traditional Indian food, as I was told as well. However  to my surprise some of the dishes seemed to have a slight fusion aspect. In ways the style was almost in between Vij’s and Rangoli, but much more casual and not as finely executed.

I left the ordering up to chef and he ended up showcasing many of his specials rather than more traditional items from his regular menu. So I can’t speak for the rest of the menu, but most of the featured items were good. I enjoyed the appetizers the most, but for the mains I had to keep reminding myself that I couldn’t expect the textures and flavours of the richer, bolder, thicker restaurant style curries I’ve had in the past. This was much lighter, with milder spices, and even less sauce, so the presentation was somewhat modernized and clean compared to the usual stew like gravy and curry bowls.

As for some of the fusion inspired dishes, I felt a bit indifferent about them, and at times it felt like a basic Indian switch up rather than fusion. What I mean by that is that there was no incorporation of another style, but just a change in sauce of something that’s been done before. However the sauces are all home made and all that matters is if it tasted good, and for the most part it did. They also provide Oceanwise seafood and sustainable ingredients where possible, but overall I found it a good choice for Indian food if you enjoy the lighter more tame side of it.

On the table:

Complimentary Papadums & Chutneys

  • It actually bothers me when these aren’t complementary, it’s like giving peanuts at the bar, they should be free.
  • The papadums were fresh and crisp and they served them with two home made chutneys which is great because usually they just serve it with one or none.
  • Tamarind chutney –  It was standard, but it was sweeter than expected for tangy tamarind, however it was enjoyable and I liked it.
  • Coriander chutney – It was a tangy, minty and fresh, but a tad on the thin side although flavourful.

**Chicken and Lentils Patty with Cucumber Mustard Relish4/6

  • This is an appetizer that will usually be featured in chef’s 4 course tasting menu for $28.95
  • I actually really enjoyed these so I wish they offered them a la carte because I would order them.
  • This was very fusion and the lentil patty almost reminded me of a falafel, but of course made with lentils and not chick peas.
  • It was a very lightly breaded and deep fried lentil patty that tasted like a creamy croquette.
  • It wasn’t creamy saucy, but it was creamy soft in texture with a smooth and moist lentil puree and Indian spices. The only thing is I wish it was crispy on the exterior.
  • The sauce was a cucumber mustard relish made with shredded green apples and cucumbers so it was light, refreshing, crisp, sweet and tart with a savoury mustard like mayo sauce to bind it together.
  • There was a slight mustard heat and it was a bit spicy from other spices, but it was well balanced, had great flavour, and the crunchy topping contrasted the soft patty well.

**Frankie4/6

  • Fancy egg roll stuffed with chicken/lamb $5.95 (This will usually come with 2 halves and not 3)
  • This is a house specialty and it’s pretty much considered Indian street food in Bombay.
  • In simplest American terms it was an Indian style breakfast burrito or wrap.
  • It was served with a ginger, coriander and tamarind dipping sauce or chutneys.
  • The ginger chutney was actually really spicy like a Mexican hot sauce spicy and I was very surprised how much spice it packed.
  • The coriander chutney was the same as the one served with the papadums and it was tangy and minty, but thin.
  • The tamarind chutney was almost like a plum sauce when eaten with the Frankie.
  • It’s great with a combination of sauces, but the ginger chutney was almost overwhelming if you had it alone.

  • Frankie4/6
    • This was almost like breakfast, lunch or a snack and it’s very kid friendly, or munchie friendly.
    • The roll was very light and fluffy despite how it looks.
    • The wrapper is a roti skin and it’s wrapped with a fluffy fried egg, moist tender soft semi shredded chicken, lettuce, coriander and perhaps a bit of coriander chutney.
    • I could taste a great balance of egg and chicken, with a slight crunch of fresh lettuce, but I did want more coriander chutney because I couldn’t really taste it.
    • I wouldn’t have minded more tandoori spice coming from the chicken, but the texture of it was great.
    • Something similar I had was in San Francisco from Curry Up Now – see Chicken Kathi Roll
  • Fries4/6
    • The fries seemed random, but it is considered fast food, so it was appropriate.
    • The fries were actually very good though. They were fresh, fluffy, light, and crispy and well seasoned.
    • Based on the fries, they could make a pretty good Butter Chicken Poutine here.

All entrees come with a plate of roti, rice and salad.

Roti – The roti was a very home style roti and I don’t think it was made with a tandoor because it wasn’t crispy. It was soft and there was a good amount of cumin seeds  folded into it which made for nice aromatic flavour after it was grilled.

Rice – The rice was basic basmati rice.

Salad – It was a green salad with apple slices and topped with Sweet Thai Chili Sauce which was very unexpected, but I did like the apples as fusion as it was. I’m being a bit picky here, but usually Indian salads or vegetables side components will have daikon, tomatoes and/or a variety or achar (house made pickles).

Lentil Cakes in Curry2.5/6

  • Served with sweet bangali pulao $14.95
  • This was a vegetarian dish, and it wasn’t what I was expecting.
  • I think Indian vegetarian dishes are amazing, but this would be perhaps a bit one dimensional and repetitive for my liking.
  • The lentil cakes came across as polenta and I almost thought they were cornmeal cakes.
  • They were very soft, a bit mushy, but tender and had some Indian spices, but the spices were very mild.
  • The cakes were served in a butter chicken like tomato based curry sauce, but it wasn’t as creamy, sweet, or tangy as a traditional restaurant style butter chicken sauce. It was quite mild and not really thick in cream or yogurt.
  • I wish it was served with more vegetables and even some raita because if I had it alone as an entree, I would find it a bit plain.

  • Sweet Bangali Pulao3/6
    • The lentil cakes were served with a bowl of sweet Bangali Pulao which was actually quite good.
    • It was sweet from the corn, with some crispy fried shallots, cilantro, whole cardamom pods, and a pinch of tumeric for colour.
    • I prefer some raisins and cashews in my pulao, but this was still pretty good.
    • It made the lentil cakes a bit more exciting to eat, but I still wanted more from both dishes.

**Red Snapper Grilled & topped with Bengali Mustard Curry (Daily special) – 3.5/6

  • All entrees come with a plate of roti, rice and salad $18 (Usually served as a whole fillet rather than cut in 3)
  • This was probably my favourite dish of the night. It had the strongest flavours, but was a bit contemporary in style.
  • Usually the fish in Bengali dishes will be deep fried or shallow fried and quite oily, so having a grilled fish was a healthy take, but I prefer this style for fresh fish anyways.
  • It was tender, moist, flaky and smoky boneless fish that was nicely grilled, but it didn’t carry much of a spice rub. It wasn’t spicy like tandoori, but just grilled well.
  • Personally I prefer it with skin, but considering the context of the restaurant, I can understand why it wouldn’t have it.
  • I did want a lot more sauce with it so that it was more like a traditional curry, and some onions would have been nice too.
  • I could taste the mustard flavour and a good amount of tangy lime or yogurt to balance it out so that it wasn’t overpowering and too musky in flavour.
  • Mustard is a main ingredient in Bengali cooking, so it was showcased, although I missed the texture and intense flavour of garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and chili.
  • I actually don’t even recall it being spicy but it did have a pungent mustard flavour and it almost tasted like there was actual mustard sauce it in.
  • I couldn’t see the mustard seeds and they could have been pureed.
  • The mustard flavour tasted like ordinary mustard as opposed to Dijon mustard, and I’m not sure if either are used in Bengali cooking, so this could have been their own style.

Lamb topped with Black Pepper Curry (Daily special)3/6

  • All entrees come with a plate of roti, rice and salad $18
  • This was a tricky dish. It definitely seemed more fusion, but barely.
  • It was more like a Western dish with Indian spices and it wasn’t Indian enough to be appreciated as Indian and not Western enough to be as good as Western styles of lamb.
  • In a way that could be comparing apples to oranges, but in this case it actually tasted like it was trying to be Western, so it was hard not to compare it to Western styles of lamb.
  • I’ve pretty much warmed up to lamb completely, even the rack. I used to find the rack really gamey, but I guess my palate has changed.
  • It came with 3 lamp chops, but I found them quite fatty and very oily, but not chewy and the meat was tender.
  • It had a very mild game flavour, and yes I’m sensitive to gaminess and I prefer it mild like this.
  • The lamb did have a light spice rub on it, but it wasn’t spicy and I actually didn’t even find the black pepper flavour to be strong.
  • It was topped with what seemed like a basic black pepper curry gravy made with a tomato base, curry leaves, ginger and garlic, but it was a bit oily.
  • It wasn’t anything you probably haven’t tried before if you’ve experimented with sauteeing those ingredients with a bit of garam masala together to make a sauce.
  • I found the black pepper flavour to be a bit mild in the sauce too, and it’s not like an obvious peppery steak house black pepper sauce either.
  • I think this would have been fabulous with their coriander chutney drizzled over top or served on the side.
  • The potatoes were roasted cumin potatoes, which was a switch up from rosemary potatoes.
  • I could have used more cumin and they would be great crispy.
  • Some of them had a strong cumin flavour and some of them didn’t, so I guess it was luck of the draw.
  • This main was good and fair for the price, but perhaps not as inspiring as I was hoping it would be.

Rice Pudding (Kheer)2.5/6

  • $3.50
  • I actually like rice pudding.
  • I’m a cardamom lover so for me this was very mild and I couldn’t even really taste it, but if you’re very sensitive to cardamom you might taste it.
  • Each restaurant has their own style, but I did miss having the cashews, almonds and raisins in it.
  • This one was just a bit plain, but it wasn’t too sweet, and the rice wasn’t clumpy, mushy, or hard.
  • It had perhaps a touch of rose water in it, but I’m not quite sure.

Rasmalai2.5/6

  • $4
  • I’m not a huge fan of rasmalai, and I wouldn’t normally order it, but I don’t mind it and I will eat it.
  • It’s basically a ricotta or cottage cheese dumpling soaked in a sweetened milk.
  • I was really hoping for more pistachios, and for me that’s the best part to a rasmalai. Sometimes it will have almonds too, but pistachios is the part I look forward to.
  • It’s a very moist and spongy cheese dumpling and it’s almost the texture of buffalo mozzarella meets ricotta. It’s very fluffy in texture and mild and light in cheese flavour.
  • This wasn’t too sweet, and it’s a bit sweeter than the rice pudding.
  • The best one I’ve had is from Vansh Indian Restaurant, but that was in Malaysia – see here.

Gulab Jamun and Chocolate2/6 for the Gulab Jumun, and 5.5/6 for the Cardamom Crème Brulée chocolate

  • $5.95
  • This is the only dessert that comes with the chocolate, which for me was the best dessert, so I really wish you could order them separately.
  • Most of the time I find this lightly battered and fried dumpling soaked in syrup way too sweet, so the fact that it’s a 2/6 is actually good for me!

  • I’ll just say it. I’m not a fan of gulab jamun and I never have been. It’s almost the red bean of Asian desserts for me. I just can’t warm up to it.
  • The dumpling, or donut, is just made from milk, butter, and flour and it’s a bit mealy in texture and more like a milk ball rather than bready like an American donut.
  • It was warm and spongy and not nearly as sweet as how some really traditional Indian places will make it.

**Cardamom Crème Brulée Chocolate5.5/6

  • Xoxolat, the chocolate boutique shop a couple stores down, is the creator of this chocolate.
  • I’m not sure if they changed the recipe or if they just didn’t torch the top, because it’s supposed to be a Cardamom Crème Brulée chocolate that looks like this – see Cardamom Crème Brulée.
  • The filling is a rich, thick, sweet and creamy pudding or cream spiced with cardamom and other Indian spices. It’s not spicy and the cardamom is mild, but apparent.
  • Alone the cream is a bit sweet for me, but with the thin bittersweet dark chocolate shell around it, it’s perfect.

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10 Comments

  • Sherman says:

    Hmmm… same restaurant, same day post but we weren’t eating together! You’re food cheating on me! LOL… 🙂 Anyways, I agree. The food was muted and very mild. However, if I looked past that, the food was decent and my dish was fantastic. So in that regard, it is not a bad place considering the location. Prices were reasonable too.

  • KimHo says:

    When I saw this post, I was thinking… WTF????! OK, I know that Sherman and I had our share of coincidences but this is getting freaky! And, yes, Sherman, Mijune is “cheating” on you, hahahaha!

    It is really interesting the dish selection you made (or rather left to the chef) vs. the one Sherman order. In a way, the chef seemed to have copied the concept of Vij’s, while Sherman went the more “traditional” (or should I say “our perceived understand of Indian”) food. However, that also reflect each of your personalities, i.e., you prefer “fancier” stuff while Sherman prefer more rustic. But, regardless of the approach, interestingly, what both of you perceived was quite similar.

  • Mijune says:

    @Sherman – The Goat Curry!!! I wanted to try that one!! I heard that was “the best”. I know this was so scary that we posted on the same freaking day!! We food cheated on each other!! It’s good we ordered different stuff… we should combine our posts lol.

    @KimHo – I know!!! So freaky!! Omg Kim.. NICE analysis there.. I think you nailed it. And yup looks like despite what we had we both seemed to agree! Even our intros are similar!

  • BKobe says:

    Traditional roti is not supposed to be crispy.

    Being of an Indian background, your review makes me curious to try this place out, though!

  • Mijune says:

    @BKobe – Hi there! Yes I know home made “traditional” roti is not crispy… I’ve made it with my Indian friends before 🙂 But I know some Indian restaurants will bake their roti in the tandoor oven so that it will be somewhat crispy. For eg: Desi Junction bakes it in the tandoor so it’s crispy. Would love to hear your thoughts on Atithi too! Feel free to share them on here.

  • Linda says:

    i always wondered about this place because i got a coupon in my inbox a while back for $10 off $40… i remember looking at the menu and thought that the goat curry was intriguing – i hope you get a chance to try it the next time around 🙂

    i’m always weary about fancy indian cuisine.. i think too many garnishes (why are there strawberries in the lentil cakes with curry?!) kind of steers away from the rustic-ness of the dish – i think this is the same for me for mexican cuisine lol

    i think out of everything in this dish, i would really like to try the lentil and chicken patties – they look yummy! do you have any favorite indian restaurants in vancouver? i’ve had rangoli and vij’s and they were so goooood! i’ve eaten at mauyra before too but it’s only ok

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – I actually will go back to try the goat curry because I heard great things about it!

    – yes the strawberries were perhaps out of place. I think maybe it was an attempt at “fusion”?

    – Mayura is supposed to be the favourite for Indian cuisine.. but I haven’t been. I like Rangoli and haven’t been to Vij’s in a while… but that being said I need to try more at Rangoli. Akbar’s Own is supposed to be good, but I haven’t been a in a couple years… otherwise I would hit Fraser street for Indian! :)… I need to do more research in Vancouver for Indian.. hence the intro of my post lol… Surrey calls my name!

  • Namita says:

    Atithi is one of the few Indian restaurants I go to now, with the occasional trip to Vij’s for the best fusion and Saravana Bhavan for South Indian. The reason is simple. My background is Indian (but not Punjabi) and I am totally tired of the third rate Punjabi truck stop food that passes for Indian food in most restaurants here. I never heard of butter chicken before I came to Canada and, quite frankly, it’s just plain boring. Good *regional* Indian food is what I crave and I absolutely love the food at Atithi. Bengali food, which is what Chef Roy draws his inspiration from, is subtle and relies on fewer spices, used selectively to complement the other ingredients. Yes, he occasionally misses (not least because he has to substitute local ingredients for ones that are unavailable here), but for the most part, his dishes are delicious. I encourage all my visitors to go there to try a different Indian culinary tradition. Oh, and I should point out that some 800 million Indians have never heard of, never mind used a tandoor.

  • Mijune says:

    @Namita – Welcome! Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    Food is very personal and just like Butter Chicken things like California Rolls and Philidephia Cream Cheese rolls don’t exist in Japan, but it doesn’t mean they’re not good IMHO. It’s just a different culture we have here.

    I agree that Chef Roy’s use of spices are more mild and that’s what I noted in my post as well. I personally enjoy the stronger spiced Indian food a bit more, but I can appreciate milder flavours as well. It just depends on what the dish is.

    Very true. Lots of people don’t have or use a tandoor… just like many Italian restaurants don’t have a wood fired oven to make pizzas. However I just prefer wood fired oven pizzas as opposed to gas ones just like how I prefer tandoor naan as opposed to ones on a grill. Being that tandoor oven naan is available in Vancouver it is just something I would rather have.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Olicia says:

    We went for lunch buffet with family and received ok service first time, but as we had to request for extra napkins as we needed them for our toddler and they do get messy 🙂 we asked for more napkins and had to receive unpleasant looks. We didnt leave any tips at this visit and next time when we came in, the attitude was even worst than before. I am guessing they don’t get many customers if they remember each and every guest and how many napkins they use at each visit as when we returned for a second visit and used again 2 more napkins (literally as she handed only 2 napkins) at the bill payment she added $6 of “service charge” for additional items used upon our visits…!!!! For additional 2 napkins for our child! The Indian lady apparently is from very unfortunate family wherever she comes from as she allowed herself to speak to her cutomers who pay for her bills in very rude tone and with such an attitude that the name of the restaurant is shame and should be changed to Trashhouse instead:)
    Was our secont and last visit for sure!

    Visited February 2013

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