Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Year's in Vancouver

Vancouver is a great food city, so I won't attempt to cover it all. I'll just tell you about two fantastic spots.

Vij's Rangoli - This is the lunch spot attached to the flagship nouveau Indian restaurant raved about by R.W. Apple and lesser foodies. It's casual and modern and very Vancouver. The red pepper and portabella mushroom curry I ordered was a revelation. I have never tasted anything quite so perfectly seasoned, spicy but not too spicy, buttery but walking that thin line on the border of too rich, served with a subtly balancing beet chutney, and far more naan than I could eat by myself. Never has vegetarian tasted so good. I think the meat orderers across the table were jealous, although their dishes (curried pork and beef respectively) were also quite tasty.

We dined on New Year's Eve omakase (essentially translates to tasting menu) at Tojo's, the city's iconic sushi bar. The four course meal started with simple, perfect, raw tuna chunks marinated in soy sauce and wasabi, moved seamlessly into a snapper spring roll, and appeared to be winding down with remarkably tender halibut cheeks, only to pleasantly surprise us with a plate of the best sushi we've ever had, and finish up with a secret fifth dessert course of vanilla ice cream,diced apples, and buttermilk. We paired the meal with a lower end, but nonetheless fantastic warm sake and Asahi beer, but those with a bigger budget could make full use of the extensive warm and cold sake selections. As it turns out is was an historic occasion, Tojo's last night in its original digs. The very next week, this restaurant moved out of the office building on the far end of Broadway and into something a little swankier and closer to Granville. Seek it out. We had the $60 menu, but if you have the cash, go all out and order the no limit omakase and find out what it is they serve in those intriguing bamboo bottles.

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