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As an apology to the vegetarians in the audience who were bummed that Kintaro has no vegetarian options, here's some pictures of a place where I went veggie temporarily.

Punjabi Market is also known as Vancouver's Little India, and although it's had some hard times in recent years with the South Asian migration to Surrey, it's still a lovely place to look at saris, jewelry, and sample Indian foods.

On my various trips to Vancouver I've hit several of the restaurants in here. Today let's look at one of the larger ones, the All India Sweets & Restaurant.

Like many restaurants in the area, All India sells a wide variety of Indian desserts at one side of the building, near where one pays the bill, but TBPH I've never actually liked Indian desserts that much; I've tried a few different things and everything I've tried has been SO sweet that I could never eat more than maybe one piece and only if I were in a really sweet tooth mood to begin with. So I'm afraid I can't tell you much about the Sweets half.

The Restaurant half I can do. :)

On this particular occasion, we both had the buffet. The buffet here is all vegetarian and only $11 all day. Since we were both really hungry we really got our money's worth. I took a picture of the buffet itself but sadly it didn't turn out, but here's one round of my plate. Some naan, some rice, some raita, some palak paneer, and some daal. Mmmm.

The buffet has a salad bar component with raw vegetables, and the hot food component with about 6 different dishes plus naan and rice, and two desserts. I actually did have about one half of one piece of gulab jumun, which fulfilled my dessert quota. The other dessert that day was a rice pudding.

Buffets can be tricky. Everyone knows about the kind of buffet that leaves food out forever or doesn't refill the more expensive dishes frequently enough. All India changed the food quite frequently; in fact at one point I was just about to get myself a helping of rice (the serving dish looked fine to me, about 1/4 full) and it was whisked away and replaced with a full, piping hot dish of rice. You don't have to go hunting in the palak paneer to find one or two lonely pieces of cheese floating in a sea of watery green liquid; I've had the palak paneer at this place before off the menu and it tasted exactly the same, with a good quantity of cheese.

Since it's the largest restaurant in Punjabi Market, this would be a good place to take a large group and sit and one of their long tables. Oh, and don't neglect to order the chai. It's only $2 with free refills.

Over all, this certainly isn't fine dining, but it is very tasty and a good value.

Name: All India Sweets & Restaurant
Location: 6507 Main St Vancouver, BC (604) 327-0891
Prices: $10-15 if ordering off the menu; $11 for the buffet (vegetarian); there is also an $18 set menu. Licensed for beer, wine and spirits; they have several Indian beers.
Service: Not the greatest, but if you get the buffet all you need to do is flag them down for refills on your drink.
Food: Competent Indian food with an extensive menu. A well-looked-after vegetarian buffet is the best way to go.
Recommended?: I quite like this place. No waiting, great buffet at a good price, nice atmosphere, even if the little tvs that show Indian music videos were busted that day. A great casual place. :)

All India Sweets & Restaurant (Main) on Urbanspoon
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My qualifiers this evening were 1) take-out available and 2) somewhere on the way from my apartment to my boyfriend's job. AKA Kits and South Cambie in general.

My first thought was sandwiches; then I considered, in turn, pad thai, Chinese, donairs, and tonkatsu. At some point in my Googling and browsing I came across Indian Oven, whose website advertised that all take-out orders receive a 10% discount. (Nota Bene, the printed menus in the restaurant itself say 5%, but the discount given on my bill was clearly 10%, so apparently the discount has been increased.) The website also claimed (with quotes from local newspaper reviews to back them up) that they had the best butter chicken in the city.

I love butter chicken, so I called in for a take out order and in about 15 minutes I was walking out of there with a paper bag containing butter chicken (12.95), palak paneer (10.95), and naan (1.75).

Nota bene again, the $1.75 naan is for one naan, a large piece of naan granted, but you may want to consider getting more than one if you like naan as much as me and The Boyfriend.

I don't have any pictures, but take-away isn't particularly photogenic in these cases. Picture one of the pie-tin take-away containers containing orange-red sauce and white lumps, and another containing green sauce and white cubes, and you've got the gist of it.

The palak paneer was competent but the butter chicken was, indeed, truly outstanding. In fact The Boyfriend and I kept accusing each other of trying to eat all of it, lol. The best thing I can say about it is that it was assertive yet balanced. The creamy sweetness of the dairy was the field in which the kicky spices frolicked, if I can be metaphorical for a moment. And of course there's nothing worse than having a great sauce dumped over dry or tough meat, and the chicken didn't disappoint. It was very tender.

Indian Oven, as the name suggests, also is known for its tandoori, so that'll be something to try next time. I would skip the palak paneer; I've had it done better elsewhere in Vancouver. It wasn't bad, but perhaps it was outshone by the butter chicken.

Name: Indian Oven
Location: 2006 West 4th Ave Vancouver, BC. V6Z 1N9 (604) 730-5069
Prices: $10-20/entree, 10% discount on take-out
Service: I made a mistake when I was ordering on the phone and ordered saag chicken instead of butter chicken. The woman taking my order inquired if I was sure I wanted two spinach dishes, at which point I realized my mistake, so that was perceptive of her. In addition, the food was ready within the promised 15 minutes.
Food: Really good, especially the butter chicken, which is deservedly famous.
Recommended?: The place looked pretty empty when I came in to pick up, so I hope that they were doing a lot of take-out orders and/or were just having a slow night. If not, go here, because they deserve to stay in business.

Indian Oven on Urbanspoon


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