VANCOUVER, BC: Salam Bombay

My wife, a/k/a The Timid Traveler, enjoys Indian food but is very particular about where she orders it. Cities including London, Toronto and Vancouver meet her criteria of being cities with a large enough Indian population that the chances of getting really good Indian food are fairly high. So it was with great delight that we spotted Salam Bombay on the corner of Burrard and Alberni in downtown Vancouver.

Prawn Pacora appetizer
Salam Bombay serves what they term “contemporary Indian cuisine,” which we discovered when we popped in for dinner one Saturday night in mid-February. Immediately, we noticed a fair number of people who appeared to be of Indian heritage. I choose to take it as a good sign when people of the restaurant’s ethnicity deign to dine there. It seems to be a validation that the food is reasonably authentic.

Thus reassured, we sat down to enjoy a lovely, long meal.

Opting for the Chef’s Table brought us a very interesting selection of appetizers, main dishes, and even a dessert, which we would likely have never tried because we’re more savory than we are “sweets” people.

Lamb and chicken with mint sauce
For our appetizer, we enjoyed Prawn Pacora. Battered and deep-fried, it was served with a side of chick peas and strips of what appeared to be deep-fried naan.

Our second course consisted of chunks of grilled lamb and chicken with mint sauce accompanied by julienne vegetables.

One of the advantages of opting for the Chef’s Table is that diners are able to sample four smaller-sized entrees rather than the two that would be served if a couple was choosing from the regular menu. For our selections, we enjoyed pacora with minted potatoes and deep-fried curry leaves; lamb tika and chicken tika, coconut curry halibut, rice, with a side of naan.

Variety of main course selections
For dessert, a fried banana and a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream provided all the sweet treat we needed.

A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from one of B.C.’s many wineries proved a perfect complement. The fresh, slightly citrus notes balanced the rich, and sometimes spicy, flavors of the dishes quite well.

Fried banana and luscious vanilla ice cream
In addition, the service was excellent. I was initially inclined to say it was in part because we put ourselves in our server’s hands, but everyone took very good care of us. From the hostess who seated us to the servers’ assistant who kept the water glasses filled and the dirty dishes whisked away to our server who made recommendations, then checked back often to make sure everything was to our liking, everyone was as attentive and gracious as could be.

We both enjoyed Salam Bombay and are keen to return next time we’re in Vancouver.

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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