When one goes to an ethnic restaurant, it's often a good sign when the staff are of the same ethnic background. No, it does not count when Chinese People run a Fake Pho Restaurant and speak Mandarin or Cantonese in the background. Just because we all look alike doesn't mean we are. Even the most angry Chinese Person isn't as angry as a true Vietnamese like Mr. General Lan (or as happy as Pho Brian and his harem of beautiful girls). I guess the only exception would be when Rob Feenie covers his ass and makes a California roll and calls it "Fusion" instead of calling it Sushi. Although this is a good rule of thumb, it sometimes doesn't tell the whole food quality story.
The other way of telling if an ethnic restaurant is good or not, is by observing the clientelle that it keeps. Last Saturday, Ed Lau, Leo Chaing, and I went down to All India Sweets Restaurant. Located in the heart of "Little India" in Vancouver, you would swear that it'd be a pretty authentic and good place to eat. Well apparently not, and we should've clued in when we noticed that the majority of people in there were Caucasian.
The place also has a bad reputation with the East Indian community as being somewhat unsanitary. Tej Singh of 1234pens felt so bad for me that he had to show me what a real East Indian Meal tasted like. He invited me out to Mirch Masala, located in Surrey, BC, for a taste of what the East Indian Community deem as the best food in all of the Lower Mainland.
You Mean It's Not Supposed to be Oily and Overspiced?
Most of the places that I've been to in the past seemed OK. The stuff tasted fine to me, but that was because I'd never had the best. I left Tej to order up some of his favourite items and boy was I surprsied at what I saw...
We started off with two dishes: A tandori chicken and a tandori fish dish. Both dishes tasted clean and fresh and weren't oily or overpowered by the spices as I've often tasted in the past at other eateries. The ingredients were simple and the smell of the smoke and sizzle from the cast iron plate was intoxicating. I stopped taking pictures and just went to town. Following this was probably the best Butter Chicken and Garlic Naan that I had ever tasted. The sauce of the butter chicken was full bodied and rich and you could literally taste the different spices and the texture of the ingredients. The Garlic Naan was absolutely to die for. You could see the pieces of minced garlic sticking out of this heavenly flat bread. I've got to get my own brick oven one day so I can make this at home.
Tej ordered so much food that it almost defeated me. This is coming from the guy that finished two Wally Burgers and a TOPS Super Sirloin Burger back to back, in the same day. He told me that he's tried every place in the Lower Mainland and that this was the best place he's been. Tej has a large family (500 strong) and because of that, he's eaten at every place at least once so I don't take his declaration lightly. He also told me that on certain days of the week, Mirch Masala has lineups out the door and around the building. Believe me, it's that good and the next time you're in Surrey, you have to try this place.
Oh...and One More Thing...
Before I could get away, Tej insisted that I have dessert. This is like an East Indian take on the TimBit drenched in a sugary syrup. It was really good. I never knew a TimBit could be turned into something so decadent.
Afterewards, Tej asked the staff to pack everything that was leftover and handed me the Doggie Bag. Twist my arm huh?
What? More Fee Stuff?
I was already floored that Tej took me out and showed me what real Indian Food was all about after our Indian Food Fail. Before this, we've really only met a couple times in person and communicated mainly over Facebook messages. We had a great time talking about all sorts of stuff and it's pretty amazing how much the two of us have in common. He's truly an all around great guy that is genuinely passionate about his business and about the people he works with.
Before we parted ways, Tej had one more thing to give to me...
Tej prepared a huge box of DotComPho pens for the Dot Com Crew to give out at the next event. I'm thinking this weekend. Location anyone? Tej has personally tested most of the pens in this box so he's pretty sure they are all good. He took our feedback to heart when the first batch he sent out had some issues.
These pens are all from his BicPromoPens division that turns out custom pens from the high quality Bic catalogue. If your business is looking to create a little buzz, the gift of a pen goes a long way. Afterall, everyone likes a free pen. There is a reason why people steal them all the time. Not to mention, Tej is a real straight up guy and will take good care of you and make sure you're satisfied with your order. Speaking of pens, if you're from out of town, and unable to attend a Dot Com Pho in the foreseeable future, please comment on this post and I'll send you some. Tej's generosity is truly contagious. Offer good while quantities last. I have to save the other half for Dot Com Pho LIVE edition. Kwanye is going to get a bunch too so he can randomly pass them out to strangers at Pho Restaurants and make friends.
Thanks again for the awesome pens Tej and don't forget 1234PENS or BicPromoPens for all your custom pen needs.