Restaurant: Canra Chicken and Fish
Last visited: July 14, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Gastown/Downtown)
Address: 2025 – 88 West Pender Street (Food court at International Village)
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Service: 5 (order from the 12 year old boy)
- Sri Lankan family owned and operated
- Offers something new to food court
- Some authentic dishes
- Some Western plates
- Some buffet pre-made dishes
- Some made upon order dishes
- Takes a while for dosas
- Home made
- Big portions
- Budget friendly/Cheap eats
- Vegetarian friendly
- Some healthy options
- Accepts Visa/MC/Interac
**Recommendations: Kottu Roti. The coconut chutney and tomato garlic chutney are really good.
Sriklankan Canra Chicken and Fish is one of the newest restaurants to open in the deathly quiet International Village mall. I’m pretty sure it replaced Bunnielicious which was a Malaysian stall serving freshly baked deep fried buns stuffed with savoury fillings. That’s actually what I had originally come here to try, but then discovered this had replaced it. Unfortunately Bunnielicious was short lived, just like many of the businesses that operate in this mall. I actually feel really bad for them, and if I can support small business owners, I’ll definitely try my best to do so.
I was on my way up to watch the advanced screening of The Whistleblower, which I will strongly recommend. But before the movie I wanted to grab a quick bite. I had heard of Canra Chicken and Fish, but didn’t know it took over Bunnielicious. I knew it had a 90%+ rating on Urbanspoon, so I was looking forward to checking out this hidden gem. The reviews seemed quite positive and the photos looked delicious, but sadly my experience didn’t match. My excitement pretty much started and ended with the little gentleman manning the cashier and essentially running the show.
This young man is the 12 year old son that runs the ship. It is impossible not to buy anything from him. He acts and talks like he’s 40 and he’s incredibly good with language and sales. He doesn’t even push you to buy stuff, but he’s just so adorable and smooth! He’s great at making recommendations, calls everyone sir and ma’am, and he’s seriously just the cutest kid ever! Yes, I’m a sucker… I totally bought into his charm and ended up buying more than I intended, which I guess isn’t unusual for me either though.
Going back to the food, it was a bit rough. The first sign I saw was “Grilled Chicken Burger Sandwich with Fries”, which totally turned me off especially since I was expecting authentic Srilankan food. Then I walked up to the stall to see a bunch of curries and deep fried appetizers that were pre-made sitting under a heat lamp. Yes, I do expect this at a fast food place, but they looked very dried out and not very fresh at all. Next I saw them make a dosa, but watching them scrape it off the griddle, wasn’t so appetizing either.
So I took the recommendations from the boy and opted for the things that sounded most traditional and different. Half the items sounded catered to American tastes (that menu not shown) and the other half sounded quite authentic (menu above). I obviously went for the more authentic sounding dishes. To be honest, what I had wasn’t great, even looking at it from food court standards. Yes it was home made and it is edible, but it skimped on ingredients and wasn’t as well executed. However the family is nice and the boy is so sweet and charming that I would come back just to support them.
On the table:
- With papadum and deep fried chili pepper $1.99
- This was pre made and it didn’t look particularly good or very fresh, but I wanted to give them business and the little boy was too cute.
- The deep fried chili is very crispy and quite salty initially and the heat catches up with you later, but I liked them!
- I love croquettes, and this actually didn’t taste bad, but it just had very minimal fish in it.
- It was supposed to be made from fresh tuna, potatoes, onions and spices, but all I tasted were potatoes.
- It was creamy inside and the outside was very crispy and crunchy, but they were room temperature since they’re not deep fried upon order.
- The filling has a very strong cardamom flavour and it was the most apparent spice of all, followed by a slight heat too.
- I really couldn’t taste or see any tuna so that was the disappointing part. It tastes fine as a potato croquette though.
- They serve the croquettes with Ketchup and I’m not sure if that’s a Western thing they’re doing.
- With papadum and deep fried chili pepper $1.99
- I also got the lamb croquette and this didn’t look that good either, but again I wanted to give business and the kid was too cute.
- It was sitting under the heat lamp so I’m not sure how fresh it was, but they are home made and not frozen to say the least.
- It doesn’t taste bad, and it’s better than the Fish Croquette, but it still had no lamb and was mostly filler.
- It was very crispy and crunchy on the outside and the inside was filled with lots of creamy mashed potato again.
- I was expecting shredded juicy braised lamb and potato, but I tasted almost no lamb. I think I ate a little shred of it at some point, but I’m not sure.
- It didn’t have nearly as strong of a cardamom flavour as the Fish Croquette and it was a bit more savoury from perhaps some lamb gravy mixed into the filling. I couldn’t taste any lamb though.
- The potatoes were creamy and there were some onions and other spices, but it’s not really spicy unlike the Fish Croquette which had more heat.
- It’s not saucy and there’s no apparent cumin or coriander or strong spices like there is in Indian food and it almost tasted a bit Western.
- Served with Sambar (Vegetarian soup), Coconut & Tomato Chutney $5.99
- The boy recommended vegetarian, so I went vegetarian.
- I don’t know if the griddle was broken, but they were really scraping the dosa off the griddle and it was sticking like crazy.
- The outcome wasn’t so great and dosas get much better than this – see my post here for a great looking and tasting South Indian style dosa.
- I like the dosas from House of Dosas, Mayuri Indian Cuisine, and Desi Dosa Madras the best so far. Those are all South Indian dosas though, not Srilankan.
- The crepe itself was chewy instead of crispy and it was a little thick, uneven, broken and ripped.
- The coconut chutney was home made and fantastic! It was a bit paste like, sweet and made of pureed coconut and it’s one of the better coconut chutneys I’ve had.
- The tomato chutney was also fantastic. It was very tangy and savoury with lots of garlic and it had no spice and I expected it to. Still delicious!
- The inside was filled with a generous amount of vegetable curry which was mainly all potatoes again.
- There were some chives, herbs and some spices, but it was mainly savoury and it didn’t have the mustard seed, cumin and other strong spices that South Indian dosas have.
- The filling was tender and creamy and mashed with maybe coconut milk, but there were no other vegetables and I wanted more since it was the vegetarian option.
- I had maybe one piece of eggplant through the whole dosa and some onions, but that’s about it.
- The flavour was good, but the execution of the crepe just ruined it a bit.
- It came with a soup served in a cup.
- The sambar vegetable soup was very different than what I’m used to. I’m not sure if this was just Srilankan style or their own version, but I’m used to the South Indian style.
- This one had lots of acorn squash and one piece of eggplant in it and lots of potatoes.
- I’m used to it being made with lentils and this one was more like a curry potato soup with vegetables.
- It was piping hot and made in house, and it was quite a simple recipe with what seemed like few spices and it’s not spicy either.
- The grandma brought it out for me and I wouldn’t be surprised if she made it. It was fresh and chunky and it was decent.
- Shredded paratha rotti chop on the grill with fresh vegetables and egg. Mild, medium or hot. With vegetables, chicken or fish $6.49 With lamb $7.49
- I’m recommending to try this because it’s new and different, but it’s not particularly amazing. It’s interesting to try and I did enjoy it for $6.49.
- I ordered it with chicken and it could have used more, but it was skinless, boneless dark meat chicken and it was a tad dry, but well spiced. It was shredded and chopped throughout the dish.
- This reminded me of Chinese style stir-fried rice noodles with chicken and vegetables, but without the soy sauce.
- It was almost Srilankan food tappenyaki style and it’s moist, not greasy, but filling and a large portion.
- The paratha rotti was chopped up small strips of roti and they were chewy and tasted like Chinese rice noodles, especially in this stir fried context.
- The mixed in scrambled egg just made it seem even more Chinese.
- The vegetables were some diced onions, shredded carrots and chives, and I wanted more veggies.
- It had a ton of flavour from a bit of cardamom and other spices and some nice heat since I asked for it medium. It wasn’t that hot although still spicy.
- The dish was quite random, but I did enjoy it the most out of everything… along with the chutneys.