1488 West 11th Avenue
T: 604 736 5711
Brief Description: In a neighbourhood that is home to some of Vancouver’s most well-known and costly restaurants (West, Vij’s, Cru), Rangoli stands out from the crowd by offering affordable, superb Indian food in modest surroundings.
If you live in Vancouver and you love food (and I’m assuming that you do and that’s why you are reading this blog) then there is little doubt that you would have heard of Vij’s. Yes, that Vij’s. Internationally famous, constantly talked about, always on the “best of” lists, Vij’s. Vij’s is certainly not short of attention nor compliments but what about the family dark-horse, Rangoli? Like a sibling that sits in the shadows of their older sibling, Rangoli may not be as popular as her big sister is but if you make the effort to get to know her, you will find Rangoli to be more affordable, more accessible and far more laid-back.
You really can’t talk about one without talking about the other and so I’ll start off with the most obvious difference between Vij’s and Rangoli: the atmosphere/appearance. Rangoli doubles as a restaurant and as a market where you are able to buy delicious pre-packaged Vij’s food to enjoy at home. Unfortunately, this means that refrigerators line one wall of the small restaurant and, as a result, the gentle hum and glow from the fridges does dampen the atmosphere. Although, with that said, effort has definitely been made and walls painted in cheery reds and yellows, and chic light features do their best to lend some character. If the weather is being kind, the patio that faces on to West 11th is a comfortable perch from which to enjoy your spicy curry and cold drink in the sunshine.
The other obvious difference between the two is the absence of the long wait for a table. Unlike Vij’s, Rangoli has quick table turn around so getting a table without investing the majority of your night is an achievable task. In my experience, the service at Rangoli has always been polite and speedy but it is quite relaxed so don’t go in expecting 5 star service.
Food-wise, the menu changes frequently but you can expect freshly made dishes, rich in flavor, with a tendency towards more fusion, less traditional, tastes. Rangoli is a happy meeting place for both vegetarians and carnivores as there is an ample number of choices for both camps. I was thrilled to find that the menu was full of tantalizing vegetarian entrées, amongst them Grilled Eggplant with Chickpeas, Curried Spinach and Paneer, and Black Chickpea, Peas, and Onion Cakes in Coconut Curry. I ended up chowing down on the Yam, Green Onion and Garlic Curry. The curry was incredibly tasty but my favourite part was actually the lightly spiced mushroom and brown basmati pilaf that it was served with. Yum!
Carnivores need not feel left out whilst their vegetarian friends are being spoilt with delectable veggie dishes. There are plenty of spiced meat dishes on the menu; Spicy Pulled Pork on Sautéed Greens, Lamb in Cumin and Light Cream Curry, and Tamarind and Yogurt Marinated Grilled Natural Chicken are just some of the many “meaty” options available. Goat (and Jackfruit in Creamy Curry), and Spiced and Marinated Tilapia provide alternatives to the usual lamb and chicken that are commonly found on Indian menus.
When I visited recently the menu offered a small selection of familiar appetizers. The usual suspects of pakoras, samosas, and kebabs of lamb, beef and lentil, were all there but with a Rangoli twist. A limited number of desserts, such as rice or coconut puddings, and drinks such as chai or lassi, will help complete your meal.
The prices at Rangoli are far kinder on the wallet than at Vij’s. Veggie entrées are around the $13 mark and the meat dishes are slightly higher at about $15. Serving sizes are decent and are served in bowls making them perfect for sharing.
Final Thoughts: With my limited knowledge of Indian food and culture, I don’t believe that I am in a position to critique the food at Rangoli. Quite simply, I enjoy the food at Rangoli – the flavours are interesting, the quality of the food is always extremely high and I enjoy being introduced to dishes and tastes that I am unfamiliar with. If time, or money, doesn’t allow a visit to Vij’s, then fear not, Rangoli has got you covered. And it is right next door.