The other day I received a reader email about Ashiana Restaurant in Surrey telling me that it’s a must-try and that is has some of the best Indian food in the region. With a claim like that, I had to see for myself so I went out to Ashiana on 80th and Scott Road to see what the fuss was about.
Family-owned in Vancouver for the last 30 years (having the city’s first tandoori oven), Ashiana opened a second location in Surrey that has recently undergone renovations. Operated by Rick Takhar (Executive Chef & Owner), loyal customers from Vancouver even make their way to Surrey to check out this and of course to have Rick’s dishes.
Rick personally prepared and brought out a lunch feast for us that began with a simmering platter of vegetable tandoori. Bright colours popped on the dish, all thanks to natural flavours and spices – not artificial colouring.
Sizzling paneer tikka (cheese cubes that I could spend hours devouring), tandoori alu bharwan (potatoes stuffed with masala and grilled), tandoori cauliflower.
Saag paneer (spinach with cheese), and sugar-free butter chicken.
Alu gobi (cauliflower & potatoes sauteed with onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic).
Vegetable oil is used in Rick’s cooking instead of ghee (a clarified butter) and it shows. The butter chicken was not thick like heavy cream although it had the classic taste of butter chicken. Flavours and spices weren’t masked, they actually popped, and didn’t leave me feeling weighed down. This was the theme of the meal – crisp, natural, with spices and herbs that danced with flavour. Ginger, pepper, turmeric, onions, they all shined.
While our lunch was specially prepared, you can find Mixed Grill Platters on the menu for $15.95, or the Heart Smart Tandoori Mixed Grill for $18.95. There were three of us at lunch and we couldn’t finish off the spread, that included rice and naan. John enjoyed the leftovers for dinner later that night.
Capping off our lunch was a plate of sweets that could also be found in the pick-up counter up front. Habshi halwa (with almonds) and a chai tea rounded out the meal perfectly.
My host told me that Rick is far too modest for his own good and this is the reason I was invited out for lunch. I had to meet this hospitable restauranteur and award-winning chef who has brought his decades of experiences to the Surrey market.
The Vancouver Ashiana Restaurant location is at 1440 Kingsway (at Knight) and the Surrey location is at 8072 Scott Road (in the plaza next to Fruiticana). If you have the chance, try it out for yourself with the family (there’s tons of space in the restaurant) or for take-out.