Restaurant: Siddhartha’s Indian Kitchen
Last visited: July 27, 2012
Location: Vancouver, BC (Commercial Drive / Grandview)
Address: 2066 Commercial Drive
Transit: SB Commercial Dr FS E 4 Av
Price Range: $10-20 ($10-15 mains)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
Food: 3.5 (based on what I tried)
- Traditional Indian (Punjabi) food
- Some modern specialties
- Modern/relaxed atmosphere
- Healthy options
- Vegetarian friendly
- Gluten free options
- Vegan options
- Ocean Wise fish
- Open late
- Free parking at rear
- Mon-Fri: 11:30am-10:30pm
- Sat-Sun: 11:30am-10:30pm
**Recommendations: Papri Chaat, Indian Paneer & Veggie Tower, Butter Chicken
I’m not in the area often and I would have easily overlooked this restaurant unless I was introduced to it. If I go for Indian food it’s usually in Surrey since it’s the city with the highest Indian population and restaurants in Metro Vancouver. On this occasion I was invited to try Siddhartha’s Indian Kitchen for lunch.
From the outside Siddhartha’s Indian Kitchen looks like a little hole in the wall, much like most of the family owned and run ethnic eateries on Commercial Drive. Previously it was Corner Tandoori restaurant, but 6 months ago it was sold and under new ownership the restaurant relaunched as Siddhartha’s Indian Kitchen. I never tried Corner Tandoori so I’m not sure how it compares, but judging by the lunch time crowd it seems like Siddhartha’s has love from the neighbourhood locals.
The inside was actually quite nice and modern which was unexpected. There was a modern take and feel to the restaurant, but I have to admit I started to think it was going to be watered down Indian food, or “Indian food for white people”. I usually like to be the only non-Indian person at an Indian restaurant simply because it feels more legit, but I set my assumptions aside until I tried the food.
I let the owner decide my order and generally the food was good, but I couldn’t decide if it was traditional Indian food or modern Indian food. The menu looked traditional, but it came out looking modern and I think that’s the direction they want to head. It seemed a bit undecided and somewhere in between. The food was being slightly catered to the non-Indian clientèle, but it still had good flavour although mildly spiced. There were some execution issues with basic things and it’s a small restaurant with many menu items so it might be a bit hit and miss. It did use less oil than most Indian restaurants and they try to give a healthier approach to Indian cuisine.
I was able to try some off the menu specials which ended up being my favourite dishes, and those items I would come back for. I’m hoping those dishes will be available more often and I feel like they are still experimenting and finding their feet. The food has more potential than it leads on, but the prices are fair and the food is made fresh although the service can feel slow. It’s not the first place I would think of to go for Indian food, but if I was in the area I wouldn’t mind coming back to try more.
On the table:
- It’s an aromatic Indian spiced milk tea.
- The Chai was served hot in a mini ceramic flower pot and made fresh that morning so the flavours were infused.
- The black tea wasn’t that strong and it came already lightly sweetened.
- Everyone makes it differently, but I could taste mostly cinnamon and cloves in this one.
- I couldn’t taste any ginger or cardamom, which some may use.
- Instead of the typical papadums they want to start giving complimentary house made hummus which I think is great! It’s not only a great idea, but it was actually a hummus I would pay for.
- Hummus isn’t Indian at all, but this was their Indian version of hummus and I liked it!
- It was a fragrant and floral hummus and I could taste a subtle hint of rose water, but it wasn’t perfume like or overpowering.
- It was made with fresh chick peas boiled from their dry state, garlic, lemon and a touch of olive oil. It was spiced with a little cardamom and cloves.
- It could have used a touch more good quality extra virgin olive oil for a creamier texture, but the flavour was very unique and fragrant. I appreciated it for being original.
Chicken Tikka – 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)
- Slow cooked boneless chicken breast marinated in spices and yogurt. Cooked on skewers in our tandoor clay oven. Served with green coriander chutney, shahi sauce and tamarind chutney. $10.50
- Usually I prefer chicken tikka to be presented on skewers with bell peppers and onions on a sizzling plate, but this one was presented more modernly.
- It was probably prepared on a skewer, but that char-grilled aspect translated more visually.
- Although it was made upon order I think it sat too long because it wasn’t hot when it came out.
- The chicken lacked that smoky char-grilled flavour and it was quite dry and overcooked.
- The flavour was good with a bit of spice and it was marinated overnight in yogurt so there was a nice tang, but too bad it wasn’t tender or moist.
- The cucumbers, pineapples and watermelon were all fresh and those were ingredients I’ve never had served along side chicken tikka. It was a very resort like way of presenting chicken tikka.
- Sometimes the shahi sauce (creamy Indian tomato sauce) can be served on the chicken or on the side, but in this case it was just used in the marinade, unless they forgot to serve it.
- Classic – Creamy shahi sauce infused with fenugreek leaves, cream, tomato marinade and a hint of coconut tossed with boneless marinated chicken. Cooked to a rich and unforgettable perfections. $9.99
- It’s the favourite, or just the one everyone knows.
- What “sweet and sour pork” is to the Chinese world is what Butter Chicken is to the Indian world.
- I do like Butter Chicken, but I like to venture off and try new things, however I get that the majority of people like this.
- You can get basamati rice or brown rice and this was brown rice.
- Brown rice tends to be a bit bittier and firmer, but this was more so than normal and it was also a bit dry and I wasn’t keen on it.
- The Butter Chicken was actually excellent and it wasn’t oily or greasy.
- It was rich and creamy and there were big chunks of char grilled yogurt marinated chicken in it.
- The chicken was tender and moist and I loved that it was char-grilled because many places will just sautee it.
- I’ve tried a lot of Butter Chicken and I this is one of the better ones I’ve had in the city.
- If anything I just wanted more spices, but it was still flavourful and delicious.
- Smoked, roasted eggplant cooked with tomato, onion, cilantro, spices & a hint of lemon $9.99
- Baingan Masala is eggplant curry and it’s one of my favourites, but I’ve never had it quite like this and this one seemed a bit modernized.
- This was much more tomato based and I couldn’t taste much eggplant.
- It was quite tangy with lots of fresh tomato, tomato paste, cumin and lots of lemon juice.
- There were some peas, onions and cilantro, but it was almost like a tomato sauce or puree of vegetables more so than a chunky eggplant curry.
- It was quite spicy, but not as dynamic with spices and I prefer the more traditional Baingan Masala with chunks of Indian eggplant.
- Cumin flavoured basmati rice cooked with peas $2.50
- I wasn’t keen on the rice again and this time it was basmatic instead of brown.
- I think it might be the brand of basmati rice and I found it quite dry and bitty with a lack of peas and cumin.
- It wasn’t toasted or fragrant and I just found it quite plain, so I wouldn’t be convinced to order their biryani.
- Fresh baked, buttered naan with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and cilantro $2.50
- The naan was pretty good and made in a tandoor oven, but it wasn’t very crispy and a bit chewy and tough.
- It was still served warm though and the paneer was nice and salty so I could eat this plain.
**Veggie Paneer Tower – 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)
- About $10
- This was beautiful and it was a vegetarian special.
- This was different and memorable and I wish they did more of this if they wanted to go modern Indian.
- It was alternating layers of portobello mushroom, tomato, onion, paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and New baby potatoes in a Shahi sauce (creamy Indian tomato sauce).
- There was only the one portobello cap on the bottom, but it was juicy and well grilled.
- The veggies were all tender and charred and the potatoes were creamy and smooth.
- Each ingredient was grilled perfectly, but I could have used more seasoning on them.
- The paneer was nice and crispy and it was supposed to be marinated with lemon and thyme, but I couldn’t taste anything and it wasn’t salty either.
- It wasn’t home made paneer and although some Indian restaurants make their own, it’s very difficult to get official approval to do this.
- It was a very fresh dish and the veggies are healthy, but the Shahi sauce was very rich and creamy and made with lots of cream.
- The sauce was a mild and sweet tomato sauce and it tasted like a thick and rich tomato bisque. It tasted quite Western and didn’t have many Indian spices.
- This was the “Butter Chicken” for vegetarians. The sauce is very similar to Butter Chicken gravy.
- It was a simple plate, but it was well made and presented.
**Papri Chaat/Papdi Chaat – 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)
- This was actually the owner’s off the menu lunch that I asked to try it. I’ve tried it before, but not like this. I hope they put it on the menu as an appetizer.
- Papri Chaat is Northern Indian street food and people eat them on hot days (which is every day). It’s supposed to cool you down with the cold and tangy sauces.
- It is usually served in round crispy deep fried puffs filled with boiled potatoes or chick peas and topped with yogurt, tamarind chutney, coriander chutney and occasionally crispy sev (crispy vermicelli noodles made from chick pea flour).
- This version looked like a broken samosa and it was almost like the hybrid of a samosa meets papri chaat.
- This one was filled with some tender pieces of potatoes and then topped with sweet and sour sauces.
- It’s a very saucy dish and it’s supposed to be. The sauces are all chilled so it is refreshing to eat.
- Traditionally the puri are supposed to be crispy hollow semolina puffs, but in this case it was the crunchy dough they use to wrap samosas.
- I also recommend trying the Dahi Puri at Bombay Se and just for reference this is another one I tried at Vansh – see Bombay Pani Puri.
Siddhartha’s Indian Kitchen…yammmmy yam I like that.